Journaling Your Way Through Fear

The last few days, and presumably the next few, I am exploring journaling as a way to face down fear. I'm scheduled for cataract surgery on my left eye on Monday, and the right one ten days later. In general, cataract surgery is no big deal. In fact, my father claims that he'd rather have cataract surgery than a root canal. It's said to be the most frequently performed surgery in America, and virtually 100% effective, with infection and other complications virtually nil. 

It does help to know that, but it isn't that simple in my case. If I were having standard, old-fashioned cataract surgery, that would surely be enough to hold my fears at bay. But today there are choices. Today there are at least three kinds of hi-tech "premium" lens implants available to increase post-surgical range of vision, perhaps to that of a healthy young eye. 

My choice is the Crystalens. Some people never need glasses, even for reading, after these lenses settle in. Most need over-the-counter reading glasses for prolonged reading. I can deal with that. I already have umpty pairs of special glasses positioned around the house for specific needs. 

I've done my homework in selecting both lens and surgeon. So why the anxiety? I wonder, will they work perfectly? Will I need further treatment for my minor astigmatism? Will I be happy with my choice? This latter question is a biggie. The basic surgery is covered by Medicare. The premium lenses are extra. I'll have a tidy sum invested in these new lenses. I expect to be looking through them for another thirty years or more, and this is an irreversible decision.

Over the last few weeks, I've filled a dozen journal pages as I worked through this decision. Now I'm at the howling stage, anticipating the final step: "That doctor is going to slice open my eye! She's going to suck out my real lens and put in a plastic one! What if it doesn't work? What if I HATE it and want my old eyes back?

I WANT MY MOMMY! 

I'm going to have to settle for a picture of my mommy. But it helps to write it, in huge letters, filling half a page. Just saying it helps. I can write, and drop tears on the page, and I feel better. 

Yes, journaling definitely helps control current levels of anxiety. It helps by simply letting the feelings out in a safe and honored place. On the page they feel real. They have substance. They are transferred from my heart to the page, without danger of being lost or dismissed. It isn't just fears that go there. I write all the solid reasons why everything is going to be okay. I've written them so often I'm staring to believe them. 

I have found a great way to face my fear down — on the page!

Write now: think of something you are feeling anxious about. Take ten or fifteen minutes and write about it in your journal. Let it all hang out. Scream and yell on the page. Feel sorry for yourself. Call names. Cuss if you want. Then give yourself a pep talk. If you don't have a journal, or you want to be sure nobody finds this, use plain paper and shred it.  

9 comments :

Maribeth said...

Thanks for sharing. Will keep you in my thoughts. Keep sharing that will also help. Just think, you'll see all this snow more clearly now! Lucky you!

Dreamin Diva said...

Best wishes Sharon, and thanks for your post on this. Don't know personally if there would be anything I could be more anxious about than my eyes.

Elly@memoircreator

Diana M. Raab said...

I really enjoy your blog. As a journaling advocate, you might be interested in getting a copy of my latest book, WRITERS AND THEIR NOTEBOOKS just released in January. Also, stop by my blog and I'd appreciate a link on yours. http://www.dianaraab.wordpress.com

Thanks and happy writing!
Diana

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thanks to all for your warm support. You may have heard about the killer storm that pounded the mid-Atlantic region. We were supposed to get around 8 inches. We woke up to no power and 26 inches on our 100 foot long steeply sloping driveway. It is simply gorgeous! And believe me, I do not have time or energy to fret. It will be late tomorrow before we can get a car down the drive in preparation for Monday's Big Event.

I'll include some picture with a post tomorrow.

Oh! The power was back on in 12 hours rather than 5 days, and the phone was only out for 2 hours. Life is good.

MeganRebekah said...

I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

Jerry Waxler said...

Alright. The cliffhanger is even more impressive. Fears about the snow and the danger of the operation. I just heard of those new implant lenses a few months ago. The promise of never needing glasses again seems like a nice compensation for needing to get your eye sliced. And you'll have the drama of a snowstorm to remember it by. I hope you are taking good notes.

Jerry
Memory Writers Network

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thanks Jerry,

Journals are a great place to keep notes. And the drama goes on. The car is liberated and ready to roll. In a mere 12 hours I anticipate feeling flooded with relief.

This is definitely a story that will be written, perhaps many ways for many purposes.

Linda said...

I don't blame you for having anxiety about letting someone cut into you - all we ever hear about are the things that go wrong. Such fuel for our over-active anxieties. Even though, I'm quite sure, a HUGE percentage of the time all things go perfectly, for me it would take a lot more than just journaling! Linda

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thanks Linda. They can cut nearly anywhere by MY EYE and I won't worry too much. But ... no problem. The first eye is finished, and it was truly the quick and easy procedure my dad promised it would be. After only a day I see better than before, and I'm promised it will continue to get better. I'm now eager to have the second one done.