Do not let fear guide you

If you are suffering from a chronic disease like me, it is easy to blame it for practically everything in your life. I try not to do it anymore, but of course it is very tempting.

I can’t get up in the morning because of my depression. If I get up, I can’t get started because of my low blood pressure. If I get started, I am not to blame for anything, because I can’t concentrate and I really don’t feel well. If I manage to get something done, I have an excuse to spend the rest of the day relaxing as it is simply too much for me. I have relationship problems, because my partner doesn’t know how to cope with my poor health. You can’t compare me with other people. I have a chronic disease. And therefore, I have an excuse for pretty much all the demands you can imagine. I can shrink my everyday life to miniature proportions if I chose to and if I let fear guide me.

The same procedure can be applied to life in general. Should I really go on this trip? Is it not too risky for someone with my medical condition? Can I have children? Won’t it be too much for me? My friends have invited me to go kayaking with them. But I can’t. I have to be reasonable and behave in a responsible way.  I have my health to take into consideration. There are millions of questions concerning your plans, wishes and dreams that will be answered the same way: “I would love to do it, but as I have a chronic disease, I can’t”. People will be understanding, even compassionate. The status quo feels good. So why should you give it up?

If you are already caught in this vicious circle where nothing seems to be possible anymore, my advice might not convince you. You will always find reasons why my situations differs from yours. And you are right. We might suffer from different diseases, live in different countries, have different economic possibilities, different desires and so on.

And yet…I was thinking about how I could make you want to get out of the vicious circle which has become a comfort zone for you. Tough cookie. I will start with the words of someone a lot wiser than me, the Roman philosopher Seneca. He says: “Where fear is, happiness is not.” So my question for you would be: “Are you happy?” And if you tell me now that you are as happy as someone with your diagnosis can be, I won’t let you get away with it. How much happier could you be, if you did not let fear guide you?

Because, if you are honest, at the bottom of all your excuses lies fear.

There are many types of fear when your health is concerned. I would never encourage anyone to behave in an irresponsible way. But, being aware of the restrictions and dangers your medical condition comes with, you can probably still get more from your life than you are currently getting. Take a chance!

I did and I don’t regret it. It has not been an easy path, yet I have overcome most of my fears by now. I have accepted my diagnosis, although, I must admit I sometimes use my chronic disease as an excuse in everyday life. My leukemia fits me quite well once in a while. Surprisingly, it also has advantages. Recently, it saved me from having to participate in an outdoor gymnastics course for school children on a chilly day. Great. The other mothers had to attend. I don’t compromise on a larger scale though. If I have a vision for my life, I will go for it. I will not let myself be guided by fear.

So please, find out which anxiety type you are, get rid of unnecessary worries that impede you from enjoying life and gain more happiness. Because, as Seneca already knew, this is exactly what is going to come about when you try. Bobby McFerrin landed a hit when he told people pretty much the same thing: “Don’t worry, be happy”

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