My Fears and Phobias
It struck when I was seventeen years old. Out of the blue with no warning at all came a horrible fear of becoming sick to my stomach and getting ill. I'll spare the graphic details. I was so fearful that it kept me housebound. It would be so embarrassing to become ill around others. If it was to happen, I wanted to be in the comfort of my own home. Little did I know, this was the first of a long list of phobias to come. Somehow I managed to work up the strength to force myself out of the house a little at a time and got it to the point where I could manage. Still it controlled me. I planned eating around activities making sure that there was never any food in my stomach while I was away from home. As time went on it subsided but never completely. As if that wasn't bad enough, my next phobia developed, an intense fear of cancer. 25 trips to different doctors couldn't take away my fear. All through my twenties I had to endure these fears while still others developed. Fear of elevators, fear of the dentist, fear of flying, fear of any illness as all. Example: A cold could turn into pneumonia and I would surely die. How I was able to function I still don't know but it did cost me a lot of living and a few teeth as well. Counseling did nothing to help. Medications weren't available in the 1960s or 1970s so I was pretty much on my own. In spite of all this, I loved life and remained hopeful. Now well into my thirties, I had become a master of working around my phobias, or so I thought. I planned eating around activities, avoided the dentist, avoided elevators, stayed away from planes. Some life. Eventually, my teeth started rotting out and being as vane as I am, this was unacceptable. I had to get to a dentist, it was no longer just a cosmetic issue, but a health issue. Terrified, I made the dreaded appointment and somehow got myself to keep it. Lo and behold, I met the kindest most understanding dentist who understood and didn't judge me and told me that we were going to fix all of this together. Thank you God for him! He was so confident and likeable and put me at ease immediately. At first I was terrified. Little by little over time and his encouragement I actually got to the point where I looked forward to my next visits. One year every other week in the chair and I was cured. My mouth looked great and I no longer had any fear of the dentist at all! This is a lesson in desensitization! This method has worked for me with every phobia. I forced myself to eat and then go out. My fear of vomiting went away. Now in my 50's I am happy to say that I have flown to Florida and to California. How is this possible? I proved that I could conquer my other phobias and I was going to conquer this one too. I wanted to see Florida, booked the flight and got on the plane, period! Turns out I love to fly and recently got back from a trip to California. What about the cancer fear? My wife was recently diagnosed with Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia which is highly treatable. Yup, I took her to every chemotherapy appointment and once again desensitization worked. The treatment was nothing like you read about, she did just fine and I am happy to report that a long remission is expected. I learned that cancer can be lived with and treated and does not have to be a horrible ordeal. Sure, still frightening, but by facing it and learning about it at least I don't get panic stricken when I think about it. Now 59 years old living an anxiety free life I am thankful for the strength I had to fight and win. I believe anyone can do this.
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