For years I’ve been told that my fear of food is causing allergic reactions to be worse than they otherwise would be, and, that my fear of having a reaction, or the memory of a really scary anaphylactic reaction makes the current reaction worse. The thing is, that’s a catch 22. When you’re body is swelling and you’re struggling to breathe, it IS scary.
And when you’ve been through such traumas as not being able to breathe, EMTs shoving a tube down your nose to make an airway, EMTs shove something over your face to try to push air down your airway that’s 99% swollen shut and hear them saying you’re turning blue and get ready to intubate you… when you have an ICU team worried about you and decide to intubate you to give your body rest and fight for you while they put you on an epi-drip… when you have an ICU doc tell you in the middle of the night they’re either going to have to increase IV med doses or intubate you… the memories of being rushed to the ER in an ambulance with lights and sirens and several EMTs in the back fighting to keep you breathing… yeah, it’s scary.
Some days, memories can flash back and overwhelm you with fear and can freeze you and make you feel helpless and hopeless. It takes the joy out of life. It sucks the life out of you.
In Harry Potter, there are characters called Dementors. They are evil looking and basically suck life out of you by making you relive your worst memories and drown in despair.
In life here, it’s the demons who do that. With me they try to make me drown in the fear of what I’ve been through and what could happen. When you have life threatening food allergies, it is scary, but especially so when you’ve come so close to death so many times.
Harry Potter asked a teacher at Hogwarts to teach him how to fight off the dementors because they kept making him pass out as he would hear the screams of his parents when they were killed by Voldermort (the most evil of all the evil characters) when he was 1. He kept reliving the memory and remembering the terror of that night. His teacher taught him the patronus charm which was more than just saying a word and waving his wand. It involved intense concentration on a happy memory at the same time. It was the happiness and joy from the memory that was the force that drives the dementors away.
Back to life here. I’m not one to say “oh, just think positive and it’ll all turn out ok” it doesn’t work like that. Trust me, I’ve tried. Positive thinking or happy thoughts just don’t make everything work out fine. HOWEVER… I thought back to the Bible and remembered the verse that says to take captive every thought and that whatever is right, noble, pure, just, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy, to think about such things.
So, while we might not use a wand and say words in Latin, the concept is the same. Just, by using the image of the dementors, it gives a face to my enemy (fear) and makes me stop and realize what’s going on rather than just be overcome by fear. And when I start being afraid, I think of the fear as dementors, and stop to refocus on something else.
I was trying to think of what to focus on instead as so many things seem remind me of my allergies. Then I realized I’ve had a song stuck in my head all day each time I start being afraid of having an allergic reaction. It’s a song by Steve Green, Think About Such Things. (Go listen to it, really, it’s good). And then it clicked. Growing up I learned hymns and other songs about God that I loved and I love singing those songs. And the songs my best friend wore an had recorded. And the songs that I play on my phone when I’m walking to the bus or having a rough day. And then I remembered a story I heard about a missionary who had been held hostage and was scared and heard a little voice say “sing”, and when she started singing the first hymn that came to mind, it calmed her down and refocused her back on God.
For years I’ve wondered how to fight the fear. I’m a visual person, (which is probably why I struggle so much with PSTD from seeing an ambulance or the flashing lights on an ambulance (flashing lights on a police car look different and don’t affect me)) so having a visual of the dementors helps me a lot to refocus.
I can sit there, overwhelmed with scary memories and all the “what-ifs”, and realize that I’m being overwhelmed by fear, but now, realizing that I’m fighting fear, I picture the fear as a dementor and think of a patronus and change to think about a song, a book, something exciting, etc., whatever it takes to send the fear fleeing. The most powerful though tends to be hymns and Bible verses I’ve memorized growing up in Awana.