This is a saying I heard many years ago and something I try to live by in many ways. As an example, I had a friend who learned to sky dive when I was about 16 years of age. As someone who has always had a fear of heights the thought of it was quite terrifying. On family fishing trips sitting on a jetty with rod dangling, the rest of the family would sit with their legs over the edge while they fished. Not me! I sat well back, so that I didn’t have to look over the edge. I didn’t even like looking through the gaps in the boards on the jetty. If there was a view that we stopped to admire on a road trip, my Dad would stand close to the railing looking down. Again not me! I would hang back and look out but never down.
So, using the motto/saying in the title, how do I ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’? Well, when it was coming up to my 50th Birthday, my husband and I went for a trip to Melbourne to visit family. When my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday I replied, “I want to do a tandem skydive”. Knowing me as he did his response was something along the lines of “But, I thought you were scared of heights?” To which I replied, “I am and that’s the point!” I explained that ever since my friend had told me of her skydive, I had pondered upon how scary that would be for me. I vowed that one day when the time was right, I would take the bold step of jumping out of a plane too. However, it was not be a solo expedition for me as I chose to tandem skydive. When the time came I was apprehensive to say the least, but determined to go through with it. Here I was thousands of miles up in the sky strapped to the front of a very nice young man. I remember saying to him, “I’m not so sure about this” not long before the jump. His response was “it’s too late, we’re doing this!” Shortly after, there I was in the open door of the plane, my legs dangling out the door. Before I knew it, out we went. I admit I had my eyes closed at first, but once I opened them, my fear gradually started to ebb away and I felt exhilarated. I landed on the ground with the biggest grin on my face. I am so glad that I conquered that fear. That said, I still don’t like looking over a cliff!!
For my 60th I went swimming with dolphins. I didn’t realise it initially that it would cause me to be in a situation that was frightening, but it certainly was. The sea was choppy and my wetsuit made me terrifyingly buoyant and I kept being flipped over onto my face. I got out of the water – as we relocated to find a better spot – and waited in the boat. It had been a terrifying experience for me. However, I got back in a second time and was no less terrified. But I did it! Would I do it again? Hello no!!!
So, most recently I had a reasonably significant fall from my bike. It was scary that it happened so fast and I fell hard and hit my head. I had to go to an after hours doctor, but luckily all I had was mostly internal bruising. That was almost two weeks ago and I knew I had the potential to be fearful of riding my bike again. So, today I got back on my bike and went for a ride with my husband. I could feel myself being a bit shaky and nervous and knew that I had to do this, so that I conquered my anxiety. While not quite fearful, I had some flashbacks to my accident and felt a bit anxious about getting back in the saddle. All went well though and I feel I can regain my confidence again.
Life is full of uncertainty and situations that can make us fearful. I have deliberately put myself in situations that are outside my comfort zone, because I think in doing so we learn that we can operate in situations where perhaps we thought we might not be able to cope. As a Social Worker we talk a lot about resilience. The ability to push through a difficult situation and come out the other side stronger. I have lived through earthquakes as, living in Christchurch, New Zealand we have had significant seismic activity. At the time terrifying, but my husband and I lived through them and I think the resilience we built in life through those experiences is something we draw on now.
If we can get through things like earthquakes and other situations that have caused us to be fearful, I feel we have the resilience to get through this Parkinson’s journey. The strength and the bond we have developed through adversity will stand us in good stead as we journey on in this different life that is shaped by our experiences with Parkinson’s.
So, rather than allowing Parkinson’s to make us fearful in life, we can acknowledge that at times the life ahead of us can be a scary thing, but not allow it to stop us doing what we want to have a rich and full life.
So like my sky diving experience, here I am with both feet off the ground, ready to leap into the future acknowledging a certain amount of fear, but determined to do it anyway.