It's always scarier in your head

January 25, 2017

Today, has been my first day officially back at work. To be honest, Monday should have been my first day but I had a fever (probably self-induced).

I was nervous. Nervous! I was so terrified of stepping back into my workplace simply because that was where I was before I fell into a extended period of gloom and doom. Everything about the place had morphed into scary memories in my head - which weren't true, but I was afraid, and my body was doing all it could to keep me away from the place. So, it made sense for my body to react this way, except it doesn't make sense either, when you really think about it!

Your brain controls your whole body. A lot more than you and I are aware. When we panic, our brain sends signals to all parts of our body telling us to run or fight.

Some of us, are special. When experiencing a momentous (scale dependent on tolerance of each individual) amount of stress, we don't run or fight. We curl up in a ball and play dead. We are unable to move, some even have cold sweats and difficulty breathing. Believe it or not, playing dead is also a form of natural body defence as useless as one might feel during a panic attack, it's okay - You're perfectly human. Tried & tested.

Thankfully, (after stocking my backpack full of xanax) I went into work and it was wonderful. When I met my supervisor, we hugged. And let me tell you how lovely it is to be hugged! Especially so, when I just spent the entire journey on the way to work anxiously trying to think if I should greet my supervisor with a handshake or a hug.

Oh, but when someone hugs you, you feel like,
"It's okay. You're in safe hands now. I understand. We'll work things through."
That was great! And then I continued meeting several people whom I knew (before I called it quits a year ago) and gave them great big hugs too and it was wonderful. It made me feel so welcomed and it was so nice to be back.

Now, I can look at my nerves and laugh for ever being so afraid of these friendly people. Silly nerves!
Though, who are we kidding? My nerves are up and revving away for day 2 tomorrow!

Sometimes, when we spend too much time away from the thing that we were, once upon slightly nervous about, this thought can be reinforced again and again until it grows into a huge irrational fear. The only way to eliminate such a fear is to face it. Flat out. No safety gear, just head on. The more frequently you face it, the stronger you get. It does not necessarily get easier, but it feels less difficult because you're stronger. You get better at dealing with your nerves, you get better at calming yourself.

We forget that these are skills we've learnt when we were kids. Whenever we felt unsure, we were encouraged by our parents or given a form of incentive to proceed. This was how we were thought to make rational and right decisions. Now, we need to re-explore this part of our brain which has an overactive fear and re-learn the skills required to differentiate between rational and irrational fears.

We can do this. Slow and steady wins the race!

By your side,
Rachel W.

Decisions, decisions.
(In case you were wondering, I chose blue.)

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