Courage Over Fear
It's not about fear dissipating in order to feel better. It's overriding the fear itself with courage. Why didn't anyone tell me this for the past 30 years? I always thought that it was "courageous" to not feel the sensations of fear. If you were diagnosed with anxiety disorder, you know that the "disorder" is fearing the fear itself---a vicious cycle of feeling sensations in our involuntary functions that make us think that something is wrong. For instance, whenever we feel bodily sensations from anxiety, like palpitations or breathlessness, we think "heart attack." That one thought snowballs into panic mode, straight into feeling the need to call for medical help---'usually' in order to ease our minds. Once we get that clean bill of health, we may start more of a positive start for the first couple of weeks, until that "disorder" kicks in again with that one initial thought when a bodily sensation arises.
It's hard to not think the worst when we're not feeling well. If you're like me, then you know what it feels like to suffer with health anxiety, or the politically incorrect term, "hypochondria." Anytime I felt pain in my lower right side, immediately my mind thought, "MY APPENDIX IS GONNA BURST!" Of course, Google is of no help. Google always goes to the worse case scenario. It always told me that I was dying of cancer and to basically plan my own funeral. Never Google unless you're in the position to weed out the CYA info.
From my years of experience of dealing with anxiety disorder and health anxiety, I have met my wonderful share of EMTs, nurses and doctors. I remember something in particular one EMT told me that I'll never forget, and I'd like to share it with you because of how effective this info was on my own life.
Whenever you get chest pains---what kind is it?
Sharp? Stabbing? Can you recreate the pain? If you move your arm around, does the pain get worse? Is it intermittent pain? If you said yes to all of those questions---then it is most likely not a heart attack. It is usually muscle/skeletal. I was told by medical professionals that heart attacks are (usually) a heavy pressure on your chest that does not go away and it's pretty much always consistent. Other symptoms for women may vary. But it's about questioning what you're experiencing. If it's anything other, then yes, please get checked out by a cardiologist and get a clean bill of health. This series of questions to myself lessened my trips to the ER and doctor's office by 95%. And sometimes, people often look for a medical condition just so they have something to "fix" or "cure." Their mindsets tell them, "Well, now I know what to treat." They literally want something to be wrong in some cases.
Squish the ANTS---make sure those intrusive thoughts are replaced by a positive one, or by a curious question: "Is this really life-threatening?" Go through the questions and evaluate the severity of it. Remember, our bodies are amazing machines that sometimes gives us false signals to our brain, telling us, "Hmm, this feels weird." Once that thought pops in---squish it and remind yourself that our bodies do strange things. If you are in severe and debilitating pain, of course get checked out. There's something called a "stitch" where you can feel a painful sensation in your abdomen which can send many people to the doctor. A stitch in medical terms is known as “exercise-related transient abdominal pain”. People often describe it as a sharp or stabbing pain, or sometimes cramping, aching or pulling in the side, just below the ribs. My own personal method is popping some Advil or Tylenol, and seeing if the pain subsides. If you can't take OTC medications, try putting a heating pad over your entire abdominal area. It's amazing how much that helps alone. For instance, if you really feel that your appendix is gonna burst, stand on your tippy toes (or the balls of your feet) and jump up and down. If nothing happens---it's not your appendix. If it was your appendix---you would crumble down to the floor in excruciating pain. Another method is to press down on the area where your appendix is, then once you release the pressure, if there is more pain, then get checked out.
Listen, I'm not a doctor or any sort of professional, but I am a professional at freaking out over bodily sensations and pain. I'm guilty of thinking every single tinge of pain or odd feeling is a disease or that I'm going to die if I don't go to the ER. And it's scary. But these series of questions and thought processes are so super helpful. It'll eliminate your need to get (unnecessary) medical attention and save you a whole lotta' money. Keep in mind, I am not minimizing your symptoms, but if you're like me, sometimes your symptoms are everyday sensations that the average person experiences on a daily basis. It can be as simple as a stitch, or maybe just a gas bubble under my breast bone. I'm okay. You're okay.
It's time to focus on you and your wellness. It's time to override the fear with courage. Sometimes it's really hard to do---setbacks are okay. Just remember to keep trying.
If you do suffer with this, I pray that God heals you in mind, body and spirit in Jesus' name. Nothing is too big for God.