Double points if you know where this title is from May the odds be ever in your favor…
(Photo credit to the amazing Hiliary at Kylee Ann Studios)
Now on to my post, wherein I teach you how to create a hierarchy and face your fears and basically CONQUER THE WORLD.
Dear Fear, you suck. I want to stop running from you, letting you talk me out of my dreams, and giving you so much attention. I recongnize that you’ll always be around so I will have to defy you and rise above you. And I know now that I’m strong enough to fight you. I know that my friends reading this post are too.
When I began IOP (Intensive Outpatient Therapy for those of you who are new here), they basically explained to me that their method of treating anxiety disorders is to expose you to everything that you fear, in increasing intensity over and over until you don’t fear it anymore. Sounds great! 5 hours a day, for 4-6 weeks!
The idea was scary but also kind of exciting. It sounded just crazy enough that it might work. Also after almost 2 years of searching for a solution, I was to the point that I was willing to try anything that might alleviate the constant state of panic and fear I had been living in. I figured hey, I face my fears every day that I’m alive so how bad can it be? And it really wasn’t.
Here’s how it works- you and your therapist determine some of your greatest anxieties and find a common underlying fear. For me, it was a fear of making a mistake and not being a “good Mormon girl.”
Then, the therapist throws out a lot of ideas for exposures related to that fear. Hold a coffee cup. Look at pictures of alcoholic drinks. Read a book at a coffee shop. Get up and leave church early. Then you rank them from easiest to hardest and that’s your hierarchy. You begin doing these exposures very frequently, many times a day and ranking your peak anxiety level while doing them from 1-10. As soon as you can do it with an anxiety level under 3, you move on to a harder exposure.
For me, it was actually exhilarating to have small victories in each exposure and soon, I was doing things I would have sent me into a full blown panic attack before. I was learning how to push back at fear by taking the jump into the unknown and I got. my. life. back.
And here’s what I learned about fear:
THE ONLY WAY TO BEAT FEAR IS TO ACT AGAINST IT.
And guess what? It doesn’t go away. I thought that once I had conquered my scrupulously OCD my anxiety would be gone, but in fact life has just led me to more things to fear. But now I know that I am strong enough to act even when I fear, instead of letting fear be the boss.
This is applicable to everyone. The only difference between me and a “normal” person is that with mental illness, my brain creates fear in either unfounded situations (e.g. the overwhelming feeling that something bad will happen if I go to a party) or exaggerated anxiety in a mildly stressful situations (I’ll have a panic attack over being late to an appointment). But we all have fears and we all have to learn to deal with them in order to reach our potential. I believe one of our purposes in this life is to learn to recognize fear and beat it.
So here’s my challenge-> build your own hierarchy. Think of a dream you aren’t pursuing, activity you haven’t tried, talent you haven’t shared, etc because you are afraid. Then do some soul searching and figure out what the underlying fear is that’s holding you back. And build your own hierarchy to face that fear little by little. I honestly believe this will change your life as it has changed mine.
I want to hear if any of you accept this challenge, and what happens! Please feel free to comment here, send me a message on Facebook (Kearis Jensen Ochs) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My purpose for sharing my story and thoughts is to help other people who struggle with mental illness or just regular life. I feel compelled to help others because that makes my suffering matter. Therefore, I am always willing to help others who are also suffering. I love hearing questions and sharing advice although I am far from an expert. So please reach out to me! Even if you just need someone to talk to anonymously- send me a message and we’ll connect. If you need to call me in the middle of the night, do it. Even if you don’t know me personally I am here for you. I believe in you. You are strong and brave.