A couple of nights ago I sat curled up on my sofa with my jumper pulled over my knees like a child, crying. Why? Because, the next day I had a blood test.
My fear of needles developed when I was a very small child. It was something that my Mum describes as having been pre-programmed, there wasn’t a particular experience that put me off (although I do have a vivid and horrible memory of an ear operation; a doctor attempted to put a needle into my hand and let’s just say it didn’t go down well) it’s a phobia that’s always been with me with little explanation as to why.
I often feel misunderstood when I tell people about my phobia. Injections/needles aren’t exactly fun and not many people admit to liking them. I believe the word ‘phobia’ is overused so I end up hearing statements such as ‘it won’t hurt’ or ‘it will all be over in seconds’. Don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate people trying to reassure me but my fear is a deep rooted psychological issue that even I don’t completely understand. Therefore, anxiety doesn’t ease with the knowledge that I won’t experience discomfort, I am scared of needles, not pain.
The people who understand it as best as I do are my close relatives and friends. Especially my Mum who held my hand through every injection up until the age of 18 (I know) and my poor boyfriend who had no idea what to do with me pre-blood test! I apologise to anyone and everyone who has come in contact with me when these unfortunate appointments are due. Doctors and nurses truly are the most patient, understanding and fantastic people.
The worst thing about my phobia is the pressure I put on myself to get over it. I can put myself in other people’s shoes and see how utterly ridiculous the whole charade can be but as much as I try, I can’t help freaking out. Along with panicky feelings I have those lovely negative and limiting thoughts. ‘You’re being stupid’, ‘don’t be a baby’ and my personal favourite ‘you’re the founder of an emotional wellbeing enterprise, HOW can you let your mind take over your body like this?!’. Are these thoughts helpful? No. They make it worse.
How can we move forwards and push past our fears? I believe the best thing to do is to be more accepting of ourselves. I try to live by the following phrase:
“Change what you can, accept what you can’t.”
The more we try to resist our inbuilt characteristics the more difficult we can make life for ourselves. This is one example of something I don’t think I can change. Rather than pushing against the phobia and desperately trying to convince myself that I need to overcome it, I am instead making myself a promise. I will accept that, for me, fear is something that accompanies needles. I also promise to drag the closest person to me along to the procedure to hold my hand. Sorry in advance.
I hope that everyone reading this can relate. Unfortunately, life does not come without fear. It’s how we manage it that counts. Allow yourself to accept it as a valid emotion and remember that, like any other feeling, it will pass.
I almost forgot, how did the blood test go? Well, isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? On reflection, it went fine. Although, my boyfriend may disagree…