Love, Fear and Anxiety

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This piece has been written by a Donegal GROW member

Recently, I heard a radio interview with singer-songwriter, Imelda May, who was promoting a benefit concert for the homeless charity Focus, a cause which is close to her heart.

She said that we all, as human beings, have two primal emotions – Love and Fear. This is reflected in the lyrics of her song, “Human” – “I have chased away my demons but I`m human at my best”.Hello (2)

These words resonated with me because fear and its bedfellow, anxiety, were often demons in my own life. I was bullied as a young child because of a skin pigmentation which covered my entire body. I became extremely self-conscious about my appearance. People would stare and make comment. Other children were hurtful in their name calling.

Fear is “the emotional response to a defined threat” while anxiety is the same “unpleasant feelings, to an unknown or imprecise threat”. Fear “causes anxiety and anxiety causes fear”.

I avoided meeting people by staying home as much as possible. In doing so, I now know, it only served to strengthen my anxieties around not fitting in and not being liked.

To keep ourselves safe from danger, our brain (mind) has evolved so that our fearful instincts respond to situations much faster than caring emotions. As a result, we are more likely to instantly focus on negatives in our lives, rather than look at the positives.
When I first joined GROW, I was sceptical about how GROW could help me. However, what kept me going back was the friendly welcome from the group. I discovered from listening to personal testimonies that other people had faced similar struggles and how GROW had helped them recover. Together, this gave me grounds for hope.

I discovered in time, it was possible to acquire a better understanding and control of my overwhelmingly self-critical thoughts.

After 12 months, I completed the Leadership Course. This gave me a better understanding of the GROW Programme and encouraged my own confidence in taking on the role of Group Organiser. I have found that the more involved I became with these leadership roles, the more I felt I could contribute to the group, which increased my sense of self-esteem.

Looking back today with the insight that the GROW Programme has given me, I now understand that my fears and anxieties are largely created from my own “Imagination and  Thoughts.”

Thankfully with the help of GROW, I am better able to recognise and ignore those “fearful even terrifying thoughts and imaginings” that invade our minds and ruin our lives.
I also found writing my own personal testimony, helped me to come to terms with my past and I learned to better control my demons, fears and anxiety and those feelings of wanting to be left alone.