Overcoming Phobias

One of the things I really want to work on over the summer is overcoming some of my phobias. I don’t have that many but I want to work on them and see if I can either overcome them or improve my response to them significantly. I have two in mind to start with that I really want to work on.

The Phobias

  • • Spiders
  • • Heights

What happened to cause them?

That’s something I really can’t pinpoint or even a timeframe when they started happening. I can remember as a kid that neither bothered me much and my parents have confirmed that. One of them though I think my father might have shed some light on the other day when I was talking to them and my brother on the phone.

Spiders

When I was younger I can remember being fascinated by them. It didn’t matter how big or small I loved watching them. I guess looking back I was never a fan or touching them or having one on me but I could watch them move or make a web. I was fascinated by their webs as well. Somewhere along the way I stopped watching them and became fearful if I saw them. Eventually, I have gotten to the point where I freeze in fear or sometimes I scream and run.

My dad said he figures this has to do with my childhood when we were living in Germany. We used to go for bike rides quite often into Hügelsheim and then towards the Rhine, along the Rhine and across into France. We would go about once a week to a little restaurant there. To get to it you had to bike under a highway bridge and dad said that it was just teeming with spiders under there. He said for him that’s when he first remembers me showing any fear of them.

Heights

This one is a little harder to place. When we were in Germany we were close to the mountains and the Black Forrest. Looking on a map now I believe that we were most likely closest to Belchen, which is a summit to the south of Baden-Söllingen in the Black Forrest. I remember we would go on almost weekly drives up in the mountains not just Belchen but all over the place. We also went camping all the time, we traveled all over and went skiing in the winter every year in Lucerne (Switzerland) and I had no issues being in the van when we went up the sides of those huge mountains. I had no issues when on ski lifts or gondolas. By 11 I was skiing double black diamonds so that meant going on some pretty big gondolas up high and I never experience any fear that I remember.

It wasn’t until the 90s when we were in Calgary that I remember the first inklings of fear when going on ski lifts or gondolas there, but that being said I would close my eyes and ride it out. More uneasiness then a true fear at that point. We moved back to Nova Scotia in 1997 and I don’t even remember any issues with heights for a while. It was not until a friend of mine got me in a ferris wheel at the Halifax Busker Festival that I really remember freaking out, crying terrified, hiding behind her, and just absolutely panicking. Since then it has just gotten worse. My mom is afraid of heights so maybe that has something to do with it, the number of times I saw her freak out, but at the same time, dad and I used to tease her (yes, I know, now looking back I seriously regret that).

What do I hope to accomplish?

I am really hoping that as far as spiders go that I can work on my fear enough that I can at least deal with one when home alone. Right now I panic and throw things at them, but killing it is something I do not have the heart or the courage to do. And I don’t want to anyways. If I could get to a point where I could get it into a container or something and take it outside to let it loose that would be awesome. Also, I’d like to be able to look at pictures online without freaking out and getting the major heebie-jeebies.

When it comes to heights I would like to try and determine where my fear came from if possible and see if I can overcome it a little at a time. I love amusement parks and love waterslides but this is interfering because I am terrified to go up to the top of waterslide towers and scared to get on high roller coasters, ferris wheels, etc. I was able to do it at Disney World back in 2015 when my mom, dad, and I went to Florida. The only reason I was able to do it was because my 24-year-old brother (at the time) was able to usually place himself between me and the edge where I could see how high up I was, that and excitement. I mean, come on… Disney World!!!

How am I going to overcome them?

That… is the question of the year. I really have no idea. Thankfully I am getting counseling so it’s one of the things I plan to talk to her about. Should I tackle them head-on? Is there any specific methods that seem to work. Is there any coping strategies, etc. All things I plan to ask about.

So those are two phobias I really want to tackle this year. What about you?

Questions
  1. What’s your greatest phobia if you have one?
  2. What are some ways you attempt to deal with it?
  3. Do you have a plan to try and overcome them?

Happy Mothers Day Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I love you so much! You have always been my best friend and the greatest influencer in my life. You have always been there for me from day one. You gave me life, a sense of purpose, and have always done your best to ensure that I was given all the love, caring, and tools I need to grow into the woman I am today. The photo below is my Gram, Mom, and I. Gram was about 103 this picture. She lived until 106 years old! I have to say I am lucky when it comes to my Mom, not everyone has this kind of a relationship with their Mom and I am eternally grateful for the bond we have. She is one of a kind and there is no other Mother like her in my opinion.

I never realized until now when trying to write this post for Mother’s Day today just how hard it is to find pictures with my Mother in them. Every time we go to take pictures she gets in the picture and just before the button is pressed she’s gone Mom’s never liked having her picture taken, much like me. I prefer to behind the camera not in front of it. The picture below is Mom, Me, my husband Edward, my brother Denton and my Dad from our wedding pictures. It’s always a little easier to find pictures with my Dad or brother in them.

My family has always been a close one, something that it took Edward a while to get used to. Mom and Dad took him in right away and treated him like a Son almost from the beginning. They love him and he loves them. Mom and Edward have a special bond as well. It warms my heart to see that we are still as close as we were before I got married and as close as we all were when my bother and I were little. So, I just wanted to say again, Happy Mothers Day Mom! I love you!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the other Mother’s out there as well! I hope you are all having an awesome Mother’s Day despite the restrictions in place due to COVID-19 and that you enjoy the day and spend as much time with the family in your household as you can and video chat with your parents if you do not live with them.

Why going back on meds for mental health issues is not failure

Warning: this post may be triggering to some and deals with the topics of mental health, depression, anxiety, medications, therapy, and suicide. Please do not read this post if you are sensitive at the moment to any of these topics or unsure how you would react. Please reach out to your local helpline if you are having thought of suicide or of harming yourself or others. I am not a mental health or health professional and this is just my own opinion. I am not advocating one way or another for the use of medications or therapy in mental health, just my own observations.

I’ll be the first to admit that when I was able to come off medication for depression and anxiety in the mid-2000s, I swore I would never go back on them. I hated the stigma. I hated the side effects. I hated remembering to take them. I hated everything about them. I was not ready, not willing, and not able to come to terms with my diagnosis and start the path to healing. Should still have been on them? Was it the right decision? Probably not, but since I refused to take them properly my doctor was more concerned about them causing harm to me, or me causing harm to myself with them and so she took me off. I had moved back home at the time after a couple of years of living away from my family. When I moved back I had good support so I think this might have been part of her thought process at the time.

Surprisingly I did okay for a number of years, after the initial rocky few months of withdrawal symptoms. So I don’t know, maybe it was the right decision at the time? I guess I will never really know. Six years later I ended up back on medication after trying to take my life for the second or third time. At the time I was going through some tough stuff and in a relationship that was very abusive. I felt like a complete and utter failure when I was told I needed to go back on some sort of medication by my family doctor. He prescribed me Paxil and referred me for a second time to a psychologist. I again was having a hard time with my diagnosis and with the idea of taking medication which I felt just compounded the situation. I talk a bit more about mental illness & me in other posts.

One of the things I failed to notice at the time and honestly so did everyone else around me, was that I was still not taking the medication properly. I didn’t think much if I missed a day here or there. There were days I just didn’t feel like taking it. I would start taking them, have some bad side effects and then stop taking them for a few days or weeks and then I would try again. This was the worst thing I could have done. I can’t say that I wasn’t warned because I was, in passing, by both the psychologist and pharmacist but no real emphasis was put on what this would do to me, to my mind, to my body. So I continued on taking them whenever I remembered or felt like it. I wondered why I felt so horrible. I wondered why I had continued thoughts of suicide. I wondered why I felt so down and felt like it was absolutely impossible to function day in, day out. Again I started hating the medication, hating the stigma of being on them because misguidedly I felt like people knew I was on them because of the side effect like falling asleep at work. I swore to myself again that I would never ever go back on them.

Fast forward another 5 or 6 years and once again I am back on them after losing my job and having a car accident. This time around however has been completely different. After talking with my new psychologist who is wonderful, we both agree that I am now ready to face the truth, willing to admit that I needed help and that I was struggling. With help from her, my husband, and my parents, they helped me realize the truth, that taking medication is not failure, instead, it is success. I am now willing and able to keep track of my medication, to use an app to ensure I don’t forget them. I have my husband to remind me as well, but I am learning to take control myself. The road ahead may not be easy. I may have setbacks. I may even feel again that I’m failing but the truth of it is, is that I am not failing. I am succeeding.

I am taking control of my life in a way I have never done before or only ever attempted at. I am accepting therapy in person (well, via zoom at the moment), I am doing the homework I am given. I am taking the medication, Cymbalta this time around. Beyond the initial side effects the first 2-3 weeks I am tolerating the medication rather well. I am feeling better. I am feeling hopeful. I feel refreshed. I am taking them on time and every day. I think I have only missed one day in about 6 months, which really didn’t affect me because I am taking them properly. This has made such a huge difference in my mood, my attitude and how I am processing things.

I still have a ways to go, but another difference this time is I am coming up with my own goals, my own things to work on and accomplish rather than waiting for other people to suggest things in my absence of being able to. In therapy when she suggests setting goals I come up with a lot of them myself. I participate and give suggestions on what I want to work on and how I want to improve my mental health and tackle my anxiety. All of these things make, for me, going back on medication a success. Do I still hope one day to get off them? Of course, I do. However, I no longer look at being on them as a failure, as being a necessary evil but instead as a tool to help me be the best me I can be. If I am able to come off of them again sometime in the future then great, and if not, that’s perfectly fine too.

My success is measured by who I am as a person and how I treat others and not whether or not I am on medications for mental health issues. I am so much more then that