When Fears May Cease to Be

April 30, 2010

I have fears. I fear that my husband or son will be the victim of a fatal accident. I fear a stranger may try to hurt my son. I fear my son may hurt himself by one day running out into the street or jumping off a balcony. I fear that if such an accident took him from me, I would go completely mad and have to be committed.

Those are the irrational fears. When they surface, I deal with them in the following manner:

1. Count the facts. (My husband and son are strong and healthy. I don't have to worry about Will jumping off a balcony yet because he can't walk. Most accidents that occur in the home or at work are not fatal. My brother was a total spaz growing up and never met with a serious accident. Mental hospitals have nice padded rooms and visiting hours.)

2. Remind myself to focus on one day at a time. Sometimes I get so caught up in worrying about the future that the unpleasant scenarios of an entire decade pass through my head before I remember that the future isn't here yet.

Then there's this question: how do I raise my son into the person he should become when I'm not that person half the time?

I realize now that I was seriously depressed during my high school years, and had I gotten help back then, I could have been a little better off now. Unfortunately, my parents didn't believe in psychiatry or secular counseling back then. If you needed counseling, you went to see a pastor or a designated church counselor--someone who knew you and your family and saw you every week at services. I don't think those people could have handled anything I had to say. And the last thing I needed was for someone to quote two scriptures and try to "pray the Devil out" of me.

Don't get me wrong: I love scripture. Scripture has helped me many times when I have studied it myself. Prayer can also be very healing. But many Christian counselors view depression as a purely spiritual problem, and their approach to dealing with it can inflict major guilt on the person being counseled. After a while, you just don't want to tell them anything serious to avoid the feeling of being totally defective.

I think I'm going to need to seek counseling again after all, even if it means seeing that primary care physician I don't like. This time, I want a psychologist instead of a psychiatrist. All my last psychiatrist cared about was how my medication was working. I also don't want to go back on medication unless I absolutely need to. It does help in a way, but I just don't feel like myself when I'm on it, even with the tiny dose I had. I want someone to talk to, who can put things into perspective for me. Dealing with depression, for me, means facing it head-on--not turning my brain chemistry off.

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