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The Fear that Causes My Panic Attacks

The Fear that Causes My Panic Attacks

Since I’ve been blogging and speaking for over 20 years, I feel as if my life is pretty much an open book: I’ve shared the tragedies, the highlights, and the funnies. 

I have real panic attacks

But one thing I’ve never admitted until now is my horrific fear of dentists. I’m not talking about a little reluctance to go; I’m talking about a full-blown panic attack whereby I’m shaking so badly I can barely drive my car, where I can’t find the office door, where I have uncontrollable tears, and where I can’t even speak a word to the receptionist let alone the dentist. Yep! It’s that bad.

I have to resort to sedative dentistry. Drugged just to get my teeth cleaned. To merely get x-rays yesterday required the moral support and tender love of a friend to drive me there and get through phase one of my dental journey.

Fear of Public Speaking vs. Fear of the Dentist

75% of Americans cite public speaking as their number one fear. In fact, it ranks higher than the fear of death!

My dentist had to smile because we are two sides of a fear. I can easily speak to 8,000 folks vs. going to the dentist and yet she lives in that world, but would rather put forks in her eyes than speak in public.

Why am I sharing this story with you? Because I’m tired of my real fear being dismissed. “Oh, it’s no big deal.” It is a big deal to me.

And if you have a fear of public speaking, and you are tired of being told, “it’s no big deal,” I hear you, too.

Panic Attacks and Fear Are Real

I also had to get comfortable with one of the reasons for my fear. I grew up so poor that we never could afford to go the dentist. My teeth rotted. I had a terrible overbite and braces let alone regular cleanings were a luxury we couldn’t afford. When I was working full-time and going to school full-time at age 18, I took myself to the dentist. The experience was humiliating. Neither the dentist nor his staff could understand why I hadn’t taken better care of my teeth. I felt like a failure. I hated admitting to the poverty of my youth.

Get Help to Own Your Fear

I eventually connected with a brilliant orthodontist who shifted all of my teeth to the right to fill the gaps caused by the lost teeth. He also fixed the overbite on the top and the mess on the bottom. Yet, every dental visit still starts with someone reviewing my X-rays and becoming perplexed.  I don’t have the correct number of teeth and they are all in the wrong place.

Now, I’m getting comfortable saying: These are my teeth, I own this mouth,  and I bought my smile.

To anyone reading who has a real fear, panic, and anxiety, I feel you. If you are fearful of speaking in public, I empathize. I also know that simply telling you to relax is not a solution.

If I can lend a sympathetic ear, reach out to me. I’m here.

To your sizzling success,

Liz

 

 

 

 

 

3 Comments
  1. Powerful and personal – thank you acknowledging that fear is a part of being human.

  2. Thanks, I heard from many folks privately that they too have fear; mine just happens to be the dentist.

  3. This is wonderful and impactful! When we share our vulnerabilities it helps all of us feel less alone!

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