Wednesday, 12 February 2014

My first step.

So today I took the first step in overcoming my dental phobia.

Before I opened up in this post, my blog was normally lighthearted and cheery. But sometimes, life isn't a bed of roses and I aren't super woman. This had got on top of me and I felt that by discussing it openly on Twitter, I'd felt empowered enough to book an appointment.

The initial step included a 'dental health check' which didn't actual consist of any treatment but rather an opportunity to chat. I really liked this idea as I didn't want to feel rushed into treatment when I was still feeling so perplexed at even entering into a dental surgery.

My Dad dropped me off at the appointment and my Mum came to keep me company. I'd debated going alone or even with Mr C but as I'm extremely self-conscious I felt that going with my Mum meant that I'd feel relaxed and not have to worry about being ashamed. My Dad was quite possibly the worst option as taxi driver but as Mr C needed to use my car, I had no other option.

As funny as it seems, my Dad is actually 'Mr Teeth'. He works for a dentistry company and has the most amazing pearly whites you've ever seen. He doesn't understand my fear, nor does he pretend to. In fact his actual words have been 'you're a mother now, you should grow up'. Not exactly helpful in this situation, as anybody dealing with a phobia would know.

It frustrates me as, if I was suffering with a physical illness, people would understand but as I'm suffering as a result of my own brain and mindset, people aren't as forgiving, especially my Dad. He means no harm but he's not exactly Dear Dierdre when it comes to thoughts and feelings.

So, I managed to make it there anyway. In one piece, with no panic attacks or tears as yet. Entering felt particularly difficult as it was a real significant 'step' into dealing with my phobia. I instantly smelt that smell that seemed to bring some memories that were previously locked away in the depths of my unconscious flooding to the forefront. At this point,I admit that I did consider whether my Mum would be able to catch me if I were to make a run for it!

Luckily I didn't take off and I managed to keep my composure until I at least got into the consultation room with the lovely lady with whom we were meeting. I got extremely emotional once I was away from the prying eyes of the waiting room however. 

I don't know exactly what it was because I wasn't scared as I knew I wasn't having anyone touch me but I felt like an emotional floodgate had opened. It gave me an opportunity to discuss how I was feeling and it also allowed my Mum an insight into how traumatic I find it too. 

Another emotion I felt was relief. I was so utterly overwhelmed that, after 2 years of trying and worry, I was at least inside a dental surgery, even if my mouth was firmly closed.

I've always been terrified of dentists and dental nurses and I knew my fear was getting out of hand when I had to stop attending baby group as one of the fellow Mums was a dental hygienist. Today I managed to sit down with one ans discuss my fears, without being completely agonised.

Funnily enough, she had gone through a similar journey as mine in treating her phobia of spiders. To me, being scared of a spider is completely irrational but to her it was everything. It just goes to show that a phobia is a phobia, and it can be as massive as we make it. Also, what seems silly to some can be completely dehabilitating to others. 

Within the hour, not only had I managed to speak to the dentist but I had conquered sitting in the chair. Not revolutionary but Rome wasn't built in a day hey? 

I'm booked in for a comprehensive assessment next Wednesday and hopefully, with the help of a sedative prescribed by my GP, I will be able to remain as calm as I did today.

It may take a while. It may seem stupid. But I'll get there and one day, in the not so distant future, my life will not be ruled by my irrational fear.

If anyone reading this is in a similar position, please do comment. I've found lots of help via this NHS website that you may find useful.

I also want to use this post to thank the lovely ladies who have provided me with a whole host of support via Twitter. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have ever made this first step so I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

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