On Seizures and Fighting Fear

Everyone says that the best way to start fighting fear is to learn about the thing that you most fear. Chris Brogan talks quite a bit about it in his book, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth and these are some pretty amazing quotes as well: 

[Tweet “Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid? That is the only time.” George R.R. Martin #fiercefocused”]

[Tweet “Knowing what must be done does away with fear. Rosa Parks #fiercefocused”]

 

Face your Fears

The concept about learning more about that which you fear made absolutely NO sense to me. At least, it didn’t until our dog started having seizures. We adopted him, literally from the street, when he was just a baby (about 8 weeks old) and he quickly became a beloved member of our family. Not one that most would choose, even his breed name meant “lowest of the low”, but he was truly loyal, energetic and adored by everyone who met him.


The first time I got a phone call, I was instantly in a state of panic. He was at the enrichment class we call doggy daycare and one of the staff told me as I drove that she wasn’t sure what happened, but he apparently had a seizure, and it was long enough that she had to physically lay with him on the floor until it stopped, a very long two minutes later. 

I am not sure whether he had any previously or how many more he had since then – out of my presence – but the first one I witnessed was horrifying.

I stood – absolutely as stiff as a board as I watched his legs twitch and his eyes go glassy. I was literally frozen in fear and had no idea what to do or how to help. My feet felt glued to the floor and my arms felt heavier than I would think possible. When he collapsed on the floor and his entire body convulsed, I suddenly snapped to attention and went to work. I asked my middle little for a towel. Also for water and then I think, I asked for my phone to try and time the duration of the seizure. I laid on top of him – my entire body over his – to keep his head from hitting the tile floor. When it was over, I burst into tears. 

After seeing one, I put a lot of energy in finding out more about seizures. We learned that crazy, erratic behavior out of the blue can sometimes be the prelude to a seizure. Seizures aren’t always full blown affairs. Sometimes they only result in twitching. I was significantly fearful about SA’s rapidly declining health because I didn’t know what was happening. We spent visit after visit with the vet clinic trying to figure out his issues, including multiple sets of blood being drawn, x-rays and a lot of medication. 

It got to the point of seriousness where his behavior snowballed into something that I was no longer comfortable quietly and apathetically going along with not knowing. We made the decision to go full board and finally exhaust all options for educating ourselves and scheduled a MRI, where we quickly learned that a very large and very aggressive set of tumors had completely invaded his brain and nasal cavity and showed no signs of stopping.

We then were left with the very heart-breaking realization that our only choice was to let him go in peace as there was nothing the doctors could do. We are still missing him every moment, but we have some amazing memories of our time with him, just shy of four years. I’ll talk more about him and the value that pets can add to a family in future posts, but let’s keep going on this concept of facing your fears by educating yourself.

[Tweet “The more you know, the less you can fear something. #fiercefocused”]

I firmly believe that this is an equation that is solid and non-negotiable in life, not just when dealing with medical issues with your pets. When you know nothing about <insert your thing>, it is super easy to be deathly afraid of it, walk in fear and tiptoe around it. When you know more about <insert your thing>, it becomes easier to handle the reality of that fear. You regain control, simply by doing some research or filling your daily existence with knowledge.

How do you actively tame that fear though, and learn more about the <insert your thing>?

First, name your fear.

In this case, it was the unknown future medical diagnosis. It was also the scary situation of watching the suffering of a being who couldn’t speak about his pain. The process of naming your fear may not be an easy process, and I would strongly suggest you brain dump and spend some honest time with yourself writing it all down. Feel free to download the free .pdf at the end of this post. 

Second, identify the trigger points.

The next action step should be to talk yourself through 3-4 things that are bothering you the most about the fear. Whichever one(s) has the biggest emotional response from you will be the focus.

Third, brainstorm where you can cut the wire.

Identify 2-3 things you can do to change your reality about that situation. Look at each of those things you’ve identified and think in terms of cutting the wire to diffuse a bomb. Maybe you are worried that you will go broke if you say no to a client? Cut the wire by researching options for other income generators.  If you are fearful of making a decision to move house, cut the wire by committing to educate yourself about the cost of living in three potential neighborhoods.

Fourth and finally, tell someone about your fear. 

That sounds scary, I know, but the more you talk about your fear, the less it becomes scary. Simple! Commit to yourself to share this discovery with a loved one, a trusted friend, or an accountability partner.

 

If you’re feeling extra brave, share in the comments! I’d love to help support you through your fierce fear-fighting process!!

 

FightYourFear

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  1. Frances says

    Oh no! I am so sorry that you have lost SA – he was a sweetie, and with you through so many different places.

  2. says

    So sorry about your loss, Naomi. And this is really useful, practical advice. I often find it helpful to play the worse case scenario out in my mind . . . it’s like you explain about naming our fears. And the truth is most things we worry about do not happen.
    Nina just shared …The Best Books of 2014 So FarMy Profile

    • says

      Nina, discovering and exploring the worst case scenario is a great idea as it pushes it farther than just deciding what the fear looks like.

  3. Kathy says

    Naomi, I am so sad and so sorry to hear about SA. He really was so sweet and you could see it in his eyes. I am glad he had your loving family to care for him.
    I feel like my fears are mostly those of the “what if” nature. Fears of something painful or tragic happening to someone I love. I suppose there are other things as well. Fear of failure, which can present itself in so many ways — the idea of going back to work, or back to school, or performing —- all things done in the past but I know it would not be the same doing them now and so if I were it would somehow be failure. But then again, it would really be a success because it would be taking the step of “doing”, which is really what we all learn when we take public speaking, right? Okay, nothing quite as specific there as a fear of spiders, snakes, heights, or needles! All things that at last one or more in my household fears. I have no problem scooping up a snake on a long handle and tossing it out of the basement, squishing creepy crawlies, removing dead critters, or live if necessary, having blood drawn or doing a ropes course. I don’t enjoy or revel in all those things but just take a “gotta do it” attitude. I know I would need to do the same to address those things that make me back away. Taking a first step….. WORK – do volunteer work that has a similar nature to a paid job I would like to do – less risk with that; SCHOOL – take a fun class or crafty class just to be in a classroom setting – PERFORM – help backstage with a performance …. there certainly are ways to get there. The questions is, do I have enough desire for work, performance or school to jump into any of them. Again, a little testing of the waters would let me know right? Don’t check up on me, then I would have to tell you I haven’t tried any of it!!! I’m a much better preacher than doer :-).

    • says

      Oh Kathy … you know me well enough to know that I won’t NOT check up on you! I find it interesting that you were able to identify three different categories, but yet they fall under the same basic fear. I loved the baby steps to get you to the performance goal. Have you heard of Listen To Your Mother (they refer to it as LTYM) … you would be FANTASTIC at that.

      • Kathy says

        How fun! I have only watched a couple but I love LTYM. That would be fun and I can actually see myself doing it. Though it would have to be somehow covert as my kids have major issues with me talking about them under any circumstance. I guess there would be some fun creativity with that, taking specific situations and making them not about them but about motherhood in general. This would be a hoot done as expat wife scenarios as well.

  4. says

    hearing about suffering animals brings me to tears, every time. i’m so glad SA had a happy life with you and your family and was so loved. i’m so sorry you had to say goodbye (even if it was the best, and kindest, choice).

    i think once i process the pup part of this post (really, i’m that affected by animals!) i’ll delve into the fear part. thanks for sharing.

    all my love!
    Ingrid just shared …“Peek”-ing into My PeacetreeMy Profile

    • says

      Ingrid, I am apparently that affected by animals too! I grew up in the country and animals were utilitarian and for a purpose. It has been such an amazing (necessary and healing) path for our family to understand and respect the immense respect we had for this pup. We have casually named our random, teary moments “SA Moments” and we have decided it is just ok to let it all flow (salt heals so many things – sweat, tears or the ocean!). I will challenge you to come back and work through your fear, sweet girl!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Face your fears. Are you scared of what will happen when you finish the work? Are you afraid of the criticism, the success, the failure, the rejection, or the responsibility that might come with it? If so, facing your fears head on is the best way to get unstuck. Naomi Hattaway shares a simple yet very effective exercise to fight your fear: Name your fear, identify the trigger points, and then “cut the wire”. Read the details and download the worksheet here: Fighting your fear. […]