Ever feel afraid? How do you cope?

By Dr GaryCA Latest Activity March 7, 2016 at 4:12 pm Views 16,216 Replies 11 Likes 1

Dr GaryTherapist

“I’m afraid.”

Two small words with a really big meaning, right? Words that we are often hesitant to say. Or more to the point: Afraid to say.

Chronic conditions bring up lots of fears, from the moment you receive your diagnosis, to beginning and maintaining your treatment regimen, to contemplating the road ahead. These fears all fall under the umbrella of the biggest fear of all. Uncertainty. Humans don’t do very well with uncertainty. We’re wired to be in charge. Chronic conditions teach us that we don’t have all the control.

So we are we afraid of fear? Maybe if we let the fear in, we might be overwhelmed by it. Or if we allow ourselves to feel afraid, we will have to admit that we have something to be fearful of (also called denial). Or maybe so many people have said to “think positive” that we don’t allow ourselves to feel how we feel.

So often, my clients will say something to me like “I shouldn’t be afraid.” Or “I can’t let anyone know I’m afraid.” Here’s my response: “When something scares us, we feel afraid.” I say that because fear is a normal human emotion.

I wrote an article about fear awhile back. Here’s a link:


I am wondering if you ever feel afraid. And if you do, what do you about your feelings of fear?

Were you more afraid when you were first diagnosed? Or has the fear stayed with you over time?

Really looking forward to hear about your experiences here.

  • Report Report as inappropriate
  • Share
    Email Email
    Print Print Twitter Twitter
    Facebook Facebook

Replies (11 replies)

Add your reply Reply Down
  • Joy Love 1921
    Joy Love 1921 April 20 at 11:31 am   

    When I was first diagnosed in 2011 I was devastated. I thought how in the world could someone like me be depressed. I am smart, I am well liked and I have a great job, family and friends… I was in denial for months and refused to even take the medication. Fast forward to 2018, now I just want to work on a plan to take better care of my emotional health and learn and grow from this depression and anxiety and figure out the best way for me to manage it.

  • Dr GaryCA May 5 at 8:59 pm   

    Hey Joy Love, great to meet you. And thanks for checking in and telling your own story. Depression can just come out of the blue, with no reason. And some initial denial is something many people go through when they are initially diagnosed. You are sure not alone. I am glad you are ready to get moving on taking better care of yourself. It takes whatever time it takes to get to this point, what's important is to take the next step. Sounds like you are ready. I encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional. If you are currently taking medication, I hope you will continue to work closely with your doctor. I also encourage you to consider working with a therapist. A therapist could meet with you and suggest ideas for a treatment plan, which you would work on together. What you are experiencing is treatable. I hope you will stay in touch with us and let us know how you are doing. Take really good care of yourself!

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous March 15 at 5:57 am   

    Well, you mentioned that many people may have said to "think positive". I just came back from a therapy appt. last week. It was the first time I saw this particular therapist, and there were basically 3 things that stood out during my appt.; 1) he has never suffered from a chronic illness, 2) he schedules physical activities on a monthly basis, such as 100 mile bike rides and fishing, and wants me to do the same and 3) I need to stop thinking negatively and start thinking positively, then my emotions will follow.

    My thought process is as follows: ideally yes, I need to think and feel more positive. However, reality kicks in and my chronic physical pain, fatigue and depression don't allow me to accomplish very much.

    My feelings after I left that appt. were that I will work on the things the therapist outlined for me. My feelings a day later were that he has never suffered a chronic illness, so how in the world can he know how I feel or what I'm up against everyday?

    My fear is…not being able to get help from a therapist. I don't want my heart to harden so much, that I just stop seeking the help that I know I need.

  • Dr GaryCA May 5 at 8:49 pm   

    Hi Anonymous, sorry I didn't see this reply sooner. I understand your frustration. Only with clothing does "one size fits all." If you want to continue to work with this therapist, you might offer to educate him on your chronic condition and what that means for your life, and that any recommendations regarding physical activity are between you and your doctor, and not what you are looking to a therapist to guide you in. You might also let him know that thinking positive sounds good on paper, but isn't so easy when you are coping daily with the impact of a chronic condition. And then be clear about what you do want to accomplish in therapy, including getting emotional support from an objective listener, who is willing to meet you where you are right now, not where he thinks you should be. If you don't feel he is willing and able to do that, then you might want to look around for a therapist who is experienced in working with people living with chronic conditions.

  • princess andrea monet
    princess andrea monet November 25, 2017 at 12:40 am   

    five or six hours of tv everyday feels like its working for me

  • Dr GaryCA November 29, 2017 at 6:26 pm   

    Hi! Nice to see you. TV can sure keep you distracted!

  • Meran
    Meran March 21, 2016 at 1:48 pm   

    This is a very thought provoking topic. I don't like the concept of fear much, although of course I've had fears like everyone else has. I don't like the idea of something else controlling my behaviour like that, particularly an emotion I struggle to acknowledge as valid. I tend to confront whatever I fear as much as I can, so I can conquer it and regain a sense of control (however illusory it is). Social fear is probably the biggest one, the sense of awkwardness when among people.

  • trying to overcome
    trying to overcome March 15 at 6:10 am   
    Edited March 15 at 6:11 am by trying to overcome

    Alot more people have a fear of being awkward in social situations than you think. I have many accomplishments, both academically and professionally…BUT, more than half of the time that I am around people I freeze, or I feel that I have nothing interesting to talk about. I've tried various methods to encourage myself. What works alot for me, is to just socialize with those who already know you and have a good relationship with you. But in reality, more people than you realize feel exactly as you do.

  • Dr GaryCA April 17, 2016 at 11:39 am   

    Hi Meran, nice to meet you! And thanks for checking in here. You are sure not alone. We all have something we fear, or many things. That's part of being human. I think comforting yourself is a good way to deal with fear. Many, many people have fears around social situations, even people who don't appear to have this fear. I personally find it helpful to remind myself in social situations that I am not the only one feeling awkward. We are all in this together. I hope you will stay in touch!

Hide the Social Toolbar Show the Social Toolbar