I despise hospitals; its ghostly white interiors, its intimidating doctors, and the pervasive smell of blood.
All this began when I was a child, stricken with a high fever while my mom was quietly making an appointment with an available pediatrician. That gave me ample time to survey my surroundings and truth be told, upon doing so, I felt nauseated. I knew then and there that there was something disturbing about fake smiling mothers plastered on the posters of local paracetamol brands with their kids in tow. It was as if they were telling me to comply with prescriptions, drink water, and suck it up.
The nurse led me to take a seat beside him and proceeded to skillfully maneuver through medical tools until he eventually found his weapon—the damned syringe. So upon waiting for it to prick me, my face was deathly pale as recalled by my mother. I could still hear my heart doubling its pace as I searched for immediate ways to escape. I have never felt so trapped in my life until then; left waiting for the first prick of that needle to seep into my skin.
Looking back, I can only laugh about it now especially when my mother added that not only did I constantly struggle on being injected, but that I also bit the arm of the nurse holding me down as well. Fear can make you do an awful lot of crazy things.
There was also a time when we were going out of town to a place that could beat Baler for having so many narrow roads. I was sixteen and I loved cars that drove fast, but this was an exception. Probably due to recklessness and careless driving, we almost swerved off a cliff as high as the Antipolo grounds. Again, the knee-wobbling anxiety and the bad adrenaline rush clung to me like a second layer of skin. Death could have beaten us to it, but it would seem like God had other plans. This was the time when my life flashed before my eyes, and I thought about the things I was not able to do yet. Fear could make you go from ticking off bucket lists in your planner into re-evaluating your life in a blink of an eye.
Oh, how could I forget the fear of being chosen in a pile of deck for recitation in my law classes? Believe me, the mini-heart attack is not to be laughed at when your hands start to sweat uncontrollably, your feet becomes a bit more fidgety, and when your lips start to quiver with practiced answers in case the professor calls out a name.
The only thing that made it bearable was seeing my classmates with exactly the same faces and reactions. It was a good time, but not one that I would want to experience again. I had to learn to overcome it or better yet, get used to it. Fear could overwhelm you from obtaining valuable experiences and distracting you with insecurities instead.
My fear of hospitals and blood will probably never go away. The hospital has taken too many of my loved ones and treasured memories. It’s a symbol of pain and everything you longed to have but couldn’t, because there was nothing for you to take back in the first place. It was the mundane equivalent of purgatory but this time, God won’t be there to deliver.
My fear of reckless driving will stay innate within me and so will my fear of getting called from a deck. But the thing is, I will not let these fears stop me from attaining my maximum potential. The world may go on, but I am a person of my own; my dreams are bigger than my fears. A sound mindset is the key; that if you put your heart and mind into it you could overcome whatever distress knocks into your way.
Eventually, I will have to get another anti-illness-whatever shot from the doctor and I will face it with dignity, no matter how funny it sounds. Eventually, I will have to fire a future family driver who so much as runs over 80 kph on a narrow road, and eventually, I will become an individual who surpassed all her terror recitation days.
It will eventually get better because these fears only take a limited fraction of time. Even Noah built the ark without letting the fear of the flood get the best of him. So the next time you feel your fears creeping in, never turn it down and instead, accept it. You’ll never know you had it in you to brace the inevitable. Besides, Tyler Knott Gregson said it best: “Come now, flood, for you have no idea how long I can hold my breath.”