Is FEAR Compromising YOUR Health
FEAR can unfold in many ways, such as through past experiences, learned behaviours, genetics, or environmental factors. Fear can be triggered by a perceived threat or danger, such as a traumatic event, uncertainty about the future, or even the anticipation of something unpleasant or unknown.
By Cindy Pivacic.
In 2012 I gave an HIV presentation at an evening event. The speaking event was for a culturally diverse group, and I required a Zulu-speaking translator who resided in Umhlatuzana, which is south of Durban. The event took place in the evening, and the taxi service would be nominal to my translator’s home, so I transported her home on this occasion, making my return home around 22h00.
I lived in the ‘respectable and safe’ suburb of Cowies Hill and felt safe arriving home at this hour. On arrival, I parked in my bay attached to my cottage, having a haul and a half to offload as I always supplied my audio-visual equipment, banners, written documentation, extensions etc. I had more than one load to take in, and with hands full on the first drop left my front door ajar.
As I had no hands left to switch the lights on, I entered my bedroom in the dark to drop the items off. Entering my bedroom door, the curtain to my right ballooned (I have gooseflesh just thinking about this again). I screeched with fright as a body emerged from the dark and raised a screwdriver to my face. I slowly backed into the lounge, carefully lowered myself into a chair and started a conversation as he stood directly in front of me, screwdriver at the ready.
The first thing I said to him was, “Are you going to rape me” he answered in the affirmative. I then told him that I was HIV positive, and he said that he was too, to which I nodded and said if the plan was to rape me, I had a stash of condoms (government issue) in the corner if he would consider using them. I asked a few more questions and then enquired if he realised I was old enough to be his Gogo. He stared at me for a long while.
I asked if he minded whether I removed my shoes, as I had been standing the whole day, and he said it was fine. I then started (for some unknown reason) to take off my watch, he stuck his hand out, and I gave it to him, saying he was welcome to take it. He looked it over, turning it once or twice in his hand and gave it back to me, put his finger to his lips and backed out of the front door, closing it behind him. I waited ten minutes then my entire body started to shake as I realised he had left and I was safe.
I got the police involved and a friend to fetch me to stay over at her home. There is more to this story, but space is limited.
Fortunately, I worked through this traumatic event as I had support, and had I not acknowledged and dealt with this challenge, my physical and mental health could have been severely affected. As it is, I had difficulty sleeping for a couple of months. I know this affected my ability to be as productive as I usually tend to be.
TIPS TO PUT INTO PRACTICE IF YOU HAVE/ARE EXPERIENCING TRAUMA:
- Prioritise your safety and well-being: Traumatic experiences can leave you feeling unsafe and vulnerable. Take steps to ensure your physical and emotional safety.
- Reach out for support: You don’t have to face trauma alone. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can provide a listening ear and understanding. Consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counsellor experienced in trauma.
- Take care of your physical and emotional well-being: Engage in self-care activities that nurture your overall well-being. This includes maintaining a healthy routine, getting regular exercise, eating nutritious meals, and prioritising sufficient sleep. Engage in activities that bring you joy and help you relax, such as hobbies, mindfulness exercises, or spending time in nature.
- Practice self-compassion and patience: Trauma recovery is a journey that takes time. Be kind and patient with yourself as you navigate through the healing process.
- Engage in grounding techniques: Trauma can cause feelings of disconnection and being overwhelmed. Grounding techniques can help bring you back to the present moment and provide a sense of stability. Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, grounding is an exercise that involves the senses.
Do not let fear fester in your everyday life for whatever reason, and to speak to someone before it further damages your mental or chronic health status.
SMS CHRONIC to 33857 to find out more.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure, and is not a substitute for professional consultation with a health professional.
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