I had to go and see the dentist last week. I have a phobia of dentist and have to be referred to a special clinic at the local dental hospital. I’ve been waiting nearly six months for an appointment that was marked as urgent and after weeks of chasing it up I was given an appointment last week.
I got there just before my appointment time only to find that I wasn’t in the part of the building that the phobia clinic is in. This made me panic a little and when my name was called and I had to go into an open plan clinic I got very scared indeed. The open plan clinic is, quite simply, a row of dentist chairs and students, over seen by a consultant, practise their skills. The smells, the sounds, seeing people with their mouths open even before hearing the drills shook me badly. I muttered something about being phobic and was grudgingly ushered into a room where I could still see everything that was going on.
I sat there forever and finally a young dentist came in . I say forever but it was probably about two minutes. By this time we were 12 minutes past my appointment time and I was crying so much I can’t remember what I said to him. I remember him quite clearly telling me that there was no way I was going to be seen in a place that was more comfortable for me and that he’d close the blind to the room and didn’t. He left to get the consultant and, after taking five minutes or so to summon up some courage, I quite literally ran from the building and down the street. I cried all the way to the centre of town and stopped shaking about 6.00 that evening. It was a hard day.
As someone with manic depression this had a big impact on my week. Nothing has really be done well and my eating, which is always chaotic, has been way out of control. Let’s just say that I eat on my feelings and I eat all the wrong things. I realised that I needed to do some mindfulness but couldn’t settle long enough to get started as I’ve been a little manic all week. Then it occurred to me that I can actually be mindful while I was manic for the very first time. How have I managed to turn this around?
I’ve discovered my baking skills again lately and have quite a good hand for bread. Unless I’m wildly manic I can channel the energy and use it to knead bread. As I knead I play music to help me time it and I drift off into a mindful state and exist only in the now. This, to me, is quite miraculous. By being able to be mindful I’ve realised that there’s nothing wrong with being afraid, it’s how we tackle that fear that counts. I have a dental phobia but I try to go to the dentist and that’s what counts; I’m making an attempt to face my fear even if it does go disastrously wrong.
So between the dentist and a loaf of bread I’ve made a step forward. Magic.