How Facing Your Fears Can Transform Mental Health.

from dark to light

So I mentioned in my previous blog how I struggled with a mini bout of anxiety recently. It happened about one month ago (May 2021), around the time when a great deal was changing in my life: my career, my dad passing, one of my daughters struggling with a traumatic set of circumstances, coming out of lockdown, plus much uncertainty around my book as it neared completion.  I don’t suffer with anxiety in day-to-day life, so it was of great concern that this could have been a signal of something more serious looming. 

Risk of psychosis

 I truly believe that the experience could have resulted in another episode of psychosis, but, thankfully, something was different this time. The anxiety was intense (the likes of which I can barely describe), and with it, came a fear so strong that I could literally throw up my insides. I was terrified that I may be about to experience the damn psychosis again. But this got me looking at my ‘fear’, and where it comes from, which made all the difference. 

I’ve talk candidly about psychosis in my book ‘Catch Me if I Fall’, putting myself in a somewhat ‘vulnerable’ position as I expose how I suffered  a ‘stress induced psychotic episode’ leading to my traumatic accident in 2019. I also opened the doors, adding to my vulnerability, by addressing the fact that I had experienced previous brief episodes too (four in total). The writing was extremely cathartic and necessary, since, if I’m honest, I don’t believe I have ever addressed these myself or with my daughters in the past. 

Childhood Fears

My dad used to be a bit of a practical joker, playing games and tricks on me (and others in the family) when I was a child. What was meant as fun (being told to run and hide as he slowly began turning all the lights off in the house), would stir fear in me on a high level, sometimes resulting in me screaming before he would turn the lights back on and realise he may have gone too far! If you revealed a phobia or fear, my dad was the sort of person that couldn’t resist preying on it! 

I’ve realised now (nearly 50 years later), that my fears manifested themselves from childhood as experiences that would stay with me until I faced them and learnt to understand them. I do not believe, or indeed have any evidence that these experiences are the cause of my psychotic episodes, and only time will tell if understanding these fears will safeguard me in the future. There are other elements of my childhood that could have effected my mental health, as well as hereditary issues. 

Breaking the fear

Somehow, I managed to get a grip with things in the midst of the anxiety. I became aware that my mind was not switching off and playing out every horror and scary scenario that it could think of; very reminiscent of my previous psychosis.  This included scary childhood memories. However, unlike previous times, there was a crossroads… or rather a fork in the road. This has NEVER happened before.

I could see how my fear patterns were getting stuck in a loop and somehow managed step out of of it; I told myself that I was so much more than just my mind and these scary thoughts. By making sense of the fear this time, it meant I could stop resisting what was happening and find acceptance. 

Feel the fear and do it anyway 

I started to breathe and meditate, as well as practicing some mindfulness skills, whilst learning to let go. It was a case of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.  I had to face the fearful thoughts. Slowly, I managed to take the helm and steer my mind back on course to peaceful waters. It was as though I was able to shine a light to find my way out of the darkness before it swallowed me up and tipped me over the edge. This may be hard to understand for many, but perhaps others who have experienced something similar may relate?

Susan Jeffers

Self Care 

Life was put on hold as I decided to take a break from my work. Miraculously, I started to experience some deep connections around me. As I let my fears out ‘to the universe’ (for want of a better word), my mind started to empty itself of all the scary thoughts and they were replaced with a sense of synchronicity, connection with nature, peacefulness, and tranquility. These sensations have remained and long may they do so! 

Breakthrough 

I have never been one who notices nature, but I became deeply fascinated with the birds and bees (no not like that!). We are very blessed that our beautiful garden has an abundance of birds and two huge laburnum trees that are buzzing with bees! It is the most tranquil and beautiful spot, where we are surrounded with open fields and countryside; it is like a little piece of paradise.

The Birds

I found myself not only listening to the call of the collared dove, but wanting to google and find out more about it, and what differentiates it from the wood pigeon. (Never saw myself as a twitcher!) We have a couple of pigeons who sit on top of our pagoda daily, and I love the fact that they are a monogamous breed.  This pair (whom Martin and I call Ethel and Bert) are probably together for life. 

I could sit in our garden for hours, just watching the activity of all the birds.  Sometimes, I get a magical glimpse of them from inside the house too, since we have little clear bird feeders stuck on the windows which attract the blue tits. My husband is rather amused by my new interest in wildlife, but many say that birds are messengers between the spirit world and physical world, which I find quite beautiful.

Spirit animal 

Now call me an ignoramus, but I didn’t know that a blackbird could be brown! Yes, the female is brown and she and her male counterpart keep landing on the wall in our garden and giving me the eye! I have googled of course… and it seems these birds are quite knowledgeable.

When this bird comes into your life, it encourages you to reach higher; along the lines of higher ideals and higher purpose. If the blackbird comes to you as your spirit animal… it’s time to give your words power apparently. Whether or not it is my spiritual animal, I read this as it’s time to get my arse back in gear and finish my first book and get it published. 

The Beauty of Bees

So, this girl who would once scream if a bee came near her, is suddenly looking at them with different eyes. As pollinators they play an integral part in every aspect of the ecosystem and are beautiful and gentle. I find myself fascinated and wanting to learn more about them. Did you know that honeybees can unhook their wings so that instead of giving flight they vibrate and generate heat to the hive? The wonder of Mother Nature. 

Here is a picture of a huge bumble bee (most definitely the queen) that I nurtured onto a card, and out of the kitchen window last week. In the past I would have shut the door on the room and waited for Martin to get home and remove!

Honestly, I feel like a young child in kindergarten with my new awareness of such beautiful things in our world. I think I would be singing ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ if it weren’t for the fact that I have a terrible voice and Martin would roll his eyes. Still, perhaps if I continue listening to the beautiful birdsong in our garden I may pick up a few tips.😜

1 Comment

  1. Sam Bielby on June 7, 2021 at 10:38 pm

    Absolutely lovely – and thought provoking. I remember such childhood teasing in my family as well. I think this was quite common 💕

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