Apologies in advance because this isn’t a food related post but it is about me. Infact it’s about something which has consumed my life since I can remember – my fear of blood, gore, needles and hospitals! I remember going to the gym with my mum many years ago and the ‘Give blood’ van was there, she said she was going to go and give blood and then I turned green…then I turned grey….then I lost all colour completely! It felt like I had lost my vision and my ability to breath all at once and all I could concentrate on was this blanket of nausea and fear which had taken me away from the world.
This has happened to me many times over the years and most of the time it is triggered by an innocent comment from someone or I catch sight of something which instantly takes me back to that feeling. I hate it because I don’t know how to explain it to the people around me and I’m sure I’ve looked like a drama queen when I’ve had to stick my head between my knees and focus on my breathing because someone mentioned their gran had an operation!
When I was in my late teens I began to realise that I was really encouraging myself to behave this way, not voluntarily or consciously but I found myself imagining the worst or picturing things which made me feel ill when talking to friends about it and then I would feel sick again. I stopped watching anything which would set me off (including hospital dramas!!) and everyone knew not to mention recent gory events when I was around. It was my thing…my fear!
Over the last four years I have had a few health problems which has meant I have needed regular blood tests. Now I think my fear of needles is rediculous because I have had numerous piercings without fainting or being sick, but mention blood test to me and I instantly begin to well up and lose colour. My mum always came with me and held my hand, it was always a big deal and we’d have to warn the nurse I was upset. I’d fuss and pull my arm away frightened of the impending event and begin to get myself into a state of panic. I would imagine that the needle was going to break, or my arm was going to fall apart and I would start thinking of every horrible thing I’d ever seen and before I know it I’d be crying and desperately clinging to my mum (I’m 25 by the way this is not when I was younger). Then it would be over…pain free and no need for further medical assistance…and I would instantly feel embarrassed and apologetic, but also a massive sense of relief.
One day I had a blood test booked and no one was free to come with me. The night before I started to talk myself out of going and then I thought No this is my chance to be brave and start to get over this. The morning of the appointment I rang my mum crying but hopeful and she said that sometimes people cling on to their fears because that’s who they have made themselves, that’s what everyone knows about them and to them that’s normal. But it is something I can let go of and I don’t need to be that person any more. It was such an enlightening moment because I knew she was right, I instantly react in a scared way because that’s what is now expected of me and that is my reaction of habit.
I went to the appointment feeling a bit numb and as I walked in I began to cry but I saw the nurses face and the familiar feeling of embarrassment and I just stopped. I sat down, looked away and then breathed a sigh of relief when it was over so quickly. I know it may sound silly to some but to me that was a really defining moment. I practically skipped home with the biggest grin on my face and I knew that I would be able to do it again on my own when the time came.
I still cringe at gore and I’m not quite ready to give blood (I know its an amazing thing to do Im working up to it) but I can now listen to someone mention an operation without fainting, I can write this post without feeling sick and I can get on with my life as an adult! I faced my fear…and I won