“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain
Fear is not all bad. Going back to prehistoric times, it has a survival advantage. We want courage: resistance to fear or mastery of fear.
I walked down the road to the chiropractor’s this morning, a bit over one kilometer. I went somewhat further this morning on the way because I circled the civic park. However, on the way home, I took a shortcut. It was getting hot by the time I returned. I told the chiropractor’s assistant that I was still doing very well. It has been three and a half weeks since I came home from the Santa Fe House. My productivity level has gradually gotten higher and higher. I am starting to do things I have put off for years–such as getting into more recipe creation. There are a few recipes in my blogs over the past two years, but not many. I would like to have something every time I post a blog entry. Lately, I have not been my complete self.
However, in the past two years, I have learned a great deal about mental health. Learning about the prefrontal cortex was a breakthrough for me. You may enjoy this mindmap of what Dr. Daniel Siegel, author of Mindsight, believes are nine essential functions of the prefrontal cortex. (I had to put a diagram of a brain in the background.) Take a look at the mindmap. I memorized the nine functions using Kevin Horsleys’ method of associating them with parts of a car. They are:
- bodily regulation
- attuned communication
- emotional balance
- response flexibility
- fear modulation
- moral awareness
Is it possible that all of these functions go away during a manic episode? I think they may do. If I were to give specific examples from my manic episodes, it would be embarrassing. I say a lot about my disorder in this blog, but I cannot tell you everything. In some ways, it is impossible to exaggerate about it.
When I first learned about manic-depression in a high school psychology class. I thought, “That’s me.” However, then I thought it was nothing more than extremes of mood. That was years before my first episode. Bipolar disorder is also extremes of behavior and highs and lows of energy level and rewards seeking.
During my last manic episode in 2016, I finally had enough energy to drive on the freeway and do everything I wanted to do. I drove from one end of the county to another.
I ended up begging for quarters in a laundry mat. And I have my own washer and dryer! I turned my apartment into disorder from going from one project to the next, without cleaning up in between. Regrettably, I did lose my moral awareness. At the time, it seemed like no big deal. Anyway, I know now that I cannot afford to experiment with my medication. Men close to me and even my doctor in the past urged me to ditch it. They were not real friends.
Loss of Fear
When I was manic, I lost my fears. I would have been better off to have remembered the wisdom behind my anxiety. There seems to be a movement now to help people get rid of all their fears as if becoming free from fear makes them whole. I think that is dangerous. We have fear for a survival purpose. We would do better to learn from our fears rather than trying to get rid of them.
You can argue that there are irrational fears. Still, perhaps there are fewer irrational fears than you think. When I was nervous about an upcoming airline trip, I mentioned it to my therapist. He said, “Are you concerned? I will never say your fear is irrational. I helped a lady overcome her “irrational” fears once, and she went on her trip. Her plane crashed.” End of story. I went on my trip anyway. Still, that was a lesson. Fears are not all irrational. Sometimes, they are premonitions.
So are dreams. I had a dream once that I was put on disability at work. Not long later, I was. Before my 2016 episode, I had long been afraid of driving on the freeway. During that mania, I drove on the freeway freely. However, I could have died. My physical and mental condition makes it hazardous for me to drive on the highway. My medication slows my reaction time. The labels on my medication say, “Do not drive or operate dangerous machinery until you know how this medication affects you.” Now that I know the effect of the drugs, is it time to pause and adapt?
I work less at overcoming freeway anxiety now. And I am less bothered by it. If I have to take the freeway, I call Lyft. I could sometimes force myself, but why do I need all that anxiety?
To ditch freeway anxiety, I tried:
- vision boards
- calculating the odds
- beating myself up about it
- neuro-linguistic programming
- taking the freeway to visit boyfriends
- reading the car owner’s manual from cover to cover
- self-hypnosis for driving anxiety
- buying new tires and a spare
- buying two newer cars
- doing it anyway
I still had it. It was practically a paralysis. The only way it goes away is to do something like take Lyft. Maybe it is a protection rather than something wrong with me.
If you have phobias or fears, you can get them treated. They might go away. They might not. Consider the realities of what you fear. When I was about seven years old, I almost stepped on a rattlesnake. A friend of my parents was staying with us and had taken me on a walk. She jerked me off my feet to protect me from the snake and could have saved my life.
Reptile Gardens, a tourist attraction in the Mount Rushmore area, was just a few miles from our home in South Dakota. They had an exhibit showing a man’s arm, grotesquely blown up and black. A rattlesnake had bitten him. Whether he was able to recover entirely, I never knew. I am grateful I never went through that. People have phobias of snakes for a reason.
Hope For The Future
Doing some things will help you overcome phobias and anxieties. Russ Harris, the author of The Happiness Trap, never overcame his fear of public speaking. Still, his belief in his message was so emphatic that he would do it despite the anxiety. Fortunately, I do not have a fear of public speaking. However, I embarrassed myself on the podium several times, especially when giving speeches while manic. If I were wise, I would not speak in public while manic. However, I did not always know until later that I was manic. Luckily, I have had enough positive experiences that I do it anyway without much discomfort.
If you would like to join me on this journey from the beginning, please start with Day One. If you wish to download a FREE copy of my ebook (with no need to enter your name or email), click on the book below.