Fear is Relative

Fear is Relative

Fear is a strange thing. What strikes terror in one person’s heart doesn’t faze another person at all. For me, I could drive motorcycles at super fast speeds, pushing them faster and faster, just to see what they could do. Opening up my 2017 Harley Softail Slim (with a built 120R) on a backcountry road – or even on a downtown expressway – was thrilling. I loved the adrenalin rush.

On the other hand, taking medication totally freaked me out.

Seriously. For most of my life I wrestled with untreated anxiety and depression. I tried treating it myself, drinking to alleviate the anxiety, and that worked for a while – until it didn’t. I tried meditation and exercise. They helped some. But nothing really got to the root of the problem until I got desperate enough to take prescribed medication for my anxiety under the supervision of a medical doctor.

Today, it’s something I’m open about – but for a long time, I was terrified of taking medication and I never talked about it with anyone.

The more I share it openly, the more I learn I’m not the only one who suffered this fear. In fact, there’s a lot of us. They even have a name for it: “Pharmacophobia.” It’s the fear of medication and a negative attitude towards drugs. I found a study that said between 30-50% of people don’t take their prescribed therapies, and one of the biggest reasons they think is this fear. That was me.

When I finally surrendered and went to the doctor and got a prescription, I wouldn’t take it. Or I would sometimes take it, but not long enough or regularly enough to get any real effect. I would get the prescription filled and leave the bottle untouched. The bottles collected on the bathroom shelf. Or I would bring the prescription home and toss it in the pile with mail and bills.

Why? Fear of the unknown. Of being out of control. Of side effects I couldn’t anticipate and couldn’t control. I knew what it was like to live with anxiety; I’d been living with it since I was a young kid. I knew what it was like to stay up all night with a racing head and a pounding heart. What I didn’t know was what it was like to take a pill to make that go away. Because then what? What if it changed me into a completely different person? What if it gave me new emotions that I had no idea what to do with? What if I took it and went to sleep and never woke up?

These are all questions I grappled with a for a long time, alone – until finally, I got so low and hit a bottom and finally, finally surrendered and asked for help.

And that changed everything.

Next up: I’ll talk about what happened and what it’s like today.

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