Thanks to everyone who followed along with me in this challenge! It is hard to believe that it has really only been around 5 weeks since I started this challenge to not be afraid of what was dragging me down. It just seemed like the month of October was perfect timing for how I’ve been feeling lately. My struggle with anxiety and fear has been plaguing me for quite awhile. With October being the month of Halloween, I was reminded everywhere I went of FEAR! In every store and neighborhood are scary things hanging from the doors and pasted to the walls! It made me realize that while the month of October is a time to play around with these things— for many of us this is not “pretend”. Many of us have invisible fears plastered all over our lives. While in October we may hang skeletons and ghosts from our lamp posts for fun—some of us are dragging fearful thoughts and emotions around every single day. They go unseen. No one can see them when they drive by. They aren’t taped to the windows or worn in costume. But they are more real than anything you’ll see this month. And if you are living that way then it is quite simply NO WAY TO LIVE!
I decided it was time that I face these fears head on. I’m not going to say that all my fears and anxieties are gone completely. I will say, though, that facing them and beginning to deal with them has helped immensely. I can honestly say that by at least making an effort to face these fears, I have made progress. For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I am moving forward. And that was in no small part to this challenge and the input of all of you!
Last week I asked you the following question: How do you deal with panic? Have you ever experienced feelings of unreality (like you are going to lose it!) when it comes to food? Or other situations? Can you share any methods or strategies that have helped you?
Here are a few of the comments that others left on how they have dealt with panic/anxiety/fear:
“With prayer, discipleship, leaning hard at times on a pastor who is there, and good friends who understand, those fears have passed.”
“I find exercise helps me a lot. I don’t often work out to lose weight, I work out to keep my sanity! Even a gentle walk does wonders.”
“My way of dealing was to quickly get involved in something else to get my mind off it. That’s when I was able to not put that wanted food item in my mouth! I must say I’ve been better about it lately, but there were days I wasn’t so lucky!”
“The best advice I give is to breathe… just slow down, put your hands in your lap, close your eyes, and just breathe. Count your breaths, listen to yourself counting…slow everything down….”
“Having it genetically, and then add to that being middle aged, perimenopausal, and stressed, it GREATLY increases our inability to produce proper amounts of cortisol, adrenaline and DHEA – everything you need to deal with stressful situations. I am a BIG supplement taker and spend a lot of time researching to make sure what I take isn’t full of fillers, etc. I have found that Gaia Adrenal Health (liquid capsules) help by taking the edge off. I’m not saying it would work for anyone else, but they help me if I take them regularly”
“In addition to walking, running, riding an elliptical or partaking in some other form of physical activity, when those feelings of helplessness and panic seep into my brain, I pray and then recite to myself over and over “Day by day, in every way, it is getting better and better. Day by day, in every way, it is getting better and better….”
I appreciate all the comments that everyone left. It has been a great reminder and added some new ideas to my list of things to try. I think the biggest thing I have learned throughout the month of this “Not Afraid” challenge is to just remind myself that doing something is better than doing nothing. Sometimes when we deal with a recurring problem it just gets tiring. Like “Oh here we go again…” You begin to think you’ve tried it all. You’ve done it all. And there really is nothing left to do but give up. It’s one thing if you have never faced an issue before but if it’s something that you have already beaten previously and it keeps getting up and reattaching itself to you—then it’s hard not to just feel DONE.
I think it’s important to remind ourselves of two things. First—there is always something new to try even if we don’t think there is. We may be too exhausted to look for it. We may be too tired to go searching for it. But we still must be aware that it’s out there. That hope still exists for discovering a solution. Second, small steps are necessary when tackling big issues. Doing one very small thing to move us in the right direction can make us feel more hopeful. At least then we know that we are moving forward. So never discount doing one very small positive thing. Even the smallest steps can help us.
Last but not least, I’d like to share with you something that I discovered this month. I actually never knew this before! And it’s this fact:
“Do Not Fear” (or some variation of that general idea) is the MOST commonly repeated phrase in the Bible
Isn’t that interesting? I mean, the Bible is full of many themes and repeated phrases or ideas. However, I did not realize that “Don’t Be Afraid” is the biggest, largest, most used, and most repeated theme in the entire Bible. I mean thank goodness for that!! It’s good to know that God totally gets me! It’s also good to know that I am not the only person out there who must have issues with anxiety, worry and other fears. I mean clearly if it’s the most repeated theme/phrase in the entire Bible then it must mean that God is fully aware that this is one of our #1 issues!
Since we’ve been talking so much lately about the tortoise, I thought once again how aptly fitting this is for me. The tortoise does after all often retreat into its shell. Hidden from the world. To me, this is also what I felt like at 417 pounds. It may seem odd to anyone who has never been very big but there is something almost ‘safe’ about living inside so many extra layers. It’s a very strange dichotomy where you feel both positively and negatively about it all at the same time. Yes in many ways it feels like a prison. One in which you are locked deep inside and no one can see the real you. Yet at the same time, that can be a shield. While it is often frustrating that no one can see YOU behind all that weight—it is also in many ways comforting that no one can see through it. It keeps you from having to deal with many things life could bring your way. It keeps you from having to engage. The larger you are the more invisible you become. Odd but true. Mostly ignored and dismissed by a lot of people. And yet protected at the same time from having to deal with those people. It’s this strange feeling of fear and safety all at once. Fear of not fitting in a chair. And yet the safety of not having to go out to wherever it was that the chair was going to be. Fear that you won’t be able to keep pace with whoever is inviting you to go somewhere with them. And then safety that you can just say ‘no’ to the invitation because you can’t keep up anyway. Now you don’t even have to deal with it. You can live within the safety of your shell. Your inner world. Where no one can get in. No risks need to be taken.
I’ve been thinking lately that this could be one of the big things I’m afraid of. I feel like I really didn’t handle losing 240 pounds all that well. I did what a lot of people do. I had this weird midlife crisis where I spent too much money, bought too many clothes, dated too many men, and slipped into this strange regrettable phase where I wanted to relive my youth and party like I was 18 years old.
Not that I should have necessarily been doing any of that at 18 either!
But it was this awful phase that I went through where I lost all common sense and became this really selfish person who seemed to feel as if I was “owed” this time of fun for all the years I had been trapped in my shell. As a result of that, I made a lot of bad decisions and ended up regretting a lot of things. Sure—I put a stop to it. I put on the brakes. I had a heart to heart with God and got myself back on track. But now I can honestly say that I think I’m straight up SCARED of that happening again. I really did NOT think I would ever lose my mind that much if I ever lost weight. But then again….maybe somewhere deep inside I never thought I’d actually lose it in the first place??? It was like this far off fantasy I’d had for so many decades that when it happened it just seemed surreal.
At the end of this challenge I can honestly say now that the biggest fear I have is of MYSELF. I don’t want to shed my shell and go crazy. I’d honestly rather stay overweight with my common sense in tact than go down that road again. Now that I’m aware of that, I can see why I have struggled so much with motivation. Self sabotage. Lack of interest in continuing the journey.
Makes sense, right?
It doesn’t end here. I will deal with all those emotions. I will allow God to teach me what He needs to teach me. And guide me where I should go. But sometimes it’s a surprise even to us when we analyze our fears. Sometimes we end up being the most shocked of all when we discover what we truly are afraid of! Especially when what I feared at the end of the day wasn’t anything that came from the outside. It wasn’t any unknown force. Or some black cloud coming my way. All along what I really feared was ME.
And until that changes, nothing else will.
And so the work begins….
****This is the last post in this challenge. I don’t have any specific questions for you to answer. Just leave a comment if you like with your own feelings, feedback etc. I look forward to hearing from you and thanks again for coming along on this journey with me!****