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When Fear Overshadowed My Relief Over Receiving the Correct Diagnosis

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Fear doesn’t discriminate. A function of fear is to let you know when you aren’t safe. Fear is a protector, but fear can also be debilitating. This kind of fear makes your head spin as though you are on an endless merry-go-round, constricts your body, and shuts you out of the world.

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

Fear is unfortunately a familiar friend. It first entered into my life when I was 10 years old and developed a mysterious back infection that left my 10-year-old body feeling more like a 65-year-old’s. Just as the back infection mysteriously entered into my life, it mysteriously left four months later, only I was left with a new friend: fear. I feared the back pain would come back, I feared going to doctors, and I feared hospitals.  The “what if” left me with anxiety, which I wouldn’t speak about for years. Then five years later, I would continue on a 10-year-long medical journey that would conclude with me finding out I had been living with the wrong diagnosis for 25 years.

As a result of being wrongly diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 1 and a half, I had undergone countless unnecessary tests, even surgeries. Nine years into my medical challenges, I had lost faith in the medical system, as I was craving normalcy and was tired of doctors not having a clue what to do to help me. I spent countless nights researching and fearing my unexplained symptoms getting worse. It was no way to live. However, the moment I had given up on the possibility of having a root cause of my symptoms was the moment I discovered I had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Other diagnoses, and news of a needed surgery, would quickly follow.

My fear quickly overshadowed the relief of receiving the correct diagnosis. Fear had me living in the future, rather then enjoying the simple pleasures of the day. Fear had me researching all hours of the night, caused me to lose my intuition, and had my mind traveling a million miles a minute. Fear made me distant.

But then one day, I decided to play a game with fear. I chose to take back control of my life.

Every time I sensed fear — mind spinning, heart racing, and throat constricting — I would acknowledge the sensation of fear in my mind and body, and breathe. By no means is this game perfect. Sometimes fear wins, but fear no longer rules my world. To my surprise, the more I continue to play this game, the more peaceful life is, even with the unpredictable nature of my medical conditions.

I’m starting to notice what I need when I experience fear, and I’m learning there is always a way.

I’m becoming clearer in my decision-making, more present in my relationships, and happier throughout my day. I am actively learning to acknowledge the emotion, and assess if there is anything I can do to reduce this fear.

  • If the answer is yes, I do something (like talk it out, practice yoga or write) that eliminates the power fear is owning. There are a multitude of options!
  • If the answer is no, I take a moment to acknowledge what I’m feeling, breathe into the fear, and release it. Fear will no longer own my life!

We often live in fear because we are stuck in the future. Begin to take steps to actively be present in your day. The more I practice releasing my fear, the more free and empowered I feel.

Image via Thinkstock Images

Originally published: August 26, 2016
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