Facing My Greatest Fear.

Today I took on a task that I’ve been avoiding for 1.5 years.  I refuelled a ute (truck!).  It sounds ridiculous, by my fear of petrol has prevented me from doing this very basic activity.

Mike stopped the ute and told me he wanted me to fill it up.  I paused and took a deep breath and realised I had to do it now.  He and I both know that it’s a mental struggle for me, so he stood and talked me through it.  He touched me to reassure me I was going to be ok.  I was shaking and hesitated, but knowing he was standing with me…at least if the diesel did ignite, we’d both be a goner.  If he thought it was safe enough to stand there, I did too.  I trust him.  He made me feel safe.

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 11.55.17 AMScreen Shot 2013-03-13 at 11.30.00 AMScreen Shot 2013-03-13 at 11.41.37 AM

The infamous cow shit covered clothes…

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These images are from the time period when the accident took place.  Apart from the second one, that’s today!

Leading up to this point today there is a sense of urgency for me to tackle this problem.  I’ll be driving a seeder in a few weeks, and I’ve got to be confident to fuel it up on my own.  I certainly don’t want to faint or have an anxiety attack in front of our new boss.

Until today, my reaction to petrol was still very panicked.  If there was a petrol jerry can in the shed I would walk as far from it as possible.  I’d not go near gas tanks, or cans for fear of explosion.  I’d avoid standing in the gas station.  I would sweat and my skin would feel cold.  Every so often I’d end up covering my face with my hands out of total fear.  Mike has been very calm and patient with me.  He helps me when I need a voice of reason.

Last year I was able to learn to light the gas stove, and touch matches.  I did have some post traumatic stress counselling initially after I left the hospital, but for the most part it’s been little baby steps toward being confident around gas, matches, and fire.

Sometimes when a television programs show someone being burned or who has been I get incredibly uncomfortable.  I have a flash back and my empathy for the pain that person must be feeling (even if it’s a mock scene) is pretty intense.  I feel as if I am that person burning.

We can be driving somewhere, or eating in public…and I see the wrinkles on my arm, and I have an instantaneous flood of horrible memories.  My brain seems to enjoy making me relive the experience every so often.  I wish it would just let it lie.

They say that the more you talk about your trauma, the more at ease with it you’ll become.

This has been the most difficult test that I’ve been through in life.  I’m really grateful that I’ve got such a loving and kind partner who helps me, and does not get frustrated with my sometimes slow progress.

I got a big hug and smiles from him when I was able to actually fill up the truck.

One day the memory won’t make me sweat and today I feel really good about where I’ve managed to get with Mikes support.

Have you ever had to overcome a fear?  What was your fear?  How did you confront it?

If you have been through something traumatic, and it affects you deeply…try not to hold it in.  I would urge you to seek a therapist, or councillor to help relieve you of the burden of your memories.

13 thoughts on “Facing My Greatest Fear.

  1. I just wrote the HUGEST reply and because I couldn’t remember my damn password it wouldn’t let me post and I didn’t save it! ARUGHHARUUHGHHHH!!!!

    I wanted to basically say that I suffer from PTSD and know how much of a struggle it is. Colours, smells, even the way someone hold’s their arm can send me into a flashback rendering me immobile for up to 10 minutes at a time, or leaving me breathless in a panic attack, or at worst, just losing control and throwing up.

    Not even 5 minutes before I read this I saw my friend’s daughter, sleeping, with her arm laying a certain way and I just about threw up. It scared me. The stillness, the shape and the bend. It was just one of those tiny little things, and my first instinct was to make sure she was breathing-but I didn’t, because of course she was breathing.

    RIght after he died, I would go downstairs every 10 minutes to check on my roommate sleeping, to listen for her breathing or a slight rustle in her blankets. It was creepy – but I was so scared of something happening that I couldn’t help myself.

    Anyways, long story short, I get it. PTSD is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with, and just wanted to say I get it. Thank the sweet baby jesus for good, amazing people in our lives to help get us through it.

    Also – sidenote – I deleted my facebook (I know you did too). I’ll still be blogging (hopefully) emailing, tweeting and instagramming, but facebook was just getting to be too much. I was invested too much in other people lives and ignoring me own. I’m also sick of reading shit that means nothing to me

    Anywho, write me whenever! My email addy is cdschristine@gmail.com., twitter is miss_sullivan, and instagram is cdschristine

    I love your blog, and I’m so happy you do it!! I read every post, in my google reader!, so I don’t comment as often as I should, but I really look forward to your blog.

    Keep it up:)


    • Thanks for writing Chrissy, my heart really feels for you. I have never been through what you’ve been through but I understand the stress that lingers. Have you been able to talk to a professional? They can give you tricks, and even just speaking to them they can help you find ways to manage your mind and memories. Sometimes an ear that’s willing to listen can reassure us. Good friends can help too. : )

      Because I am so remote, a woman named Rose would call me and discuss how I was handling my recovery. I actually had to ask for it during a check up at the hospital, I cracked in front of the doctor and nurse. I knew I needed help so I asked for a councillor. I’d only been out in the real world for 2 weeks. I felt at the time that the world was falling in on me. A lot of the time I lived in complete fear. I also felt completely disfigured. I had a fear of Mike getting in the truck and dying, fear of lightening striking us…fear of Mike dying while he was fire fighting. haha I was a mess. I’m so much more relaxed now…but for a while….I was a Nervous Nancy. It’s just the petrol that I’m still wrestling with. But I’m super proud for my win today.

      I’ve got your email, and I’m not a twitter user or instagram, though you should email me some photos or I’ll check out your blog! : )

      I’m so glad you enjoy reading this blog! I have no idea who sees it…it’s nice to know you’re digging it!
      I wish you could come to Australia…I hope you feel better soon!

      Thank you for sharing your story, and for your comment.

      Love ya!


  2. Wow – doing what you did as fearful as you were is very brave. You weren’t just walking past a book of matches, you actually filled a truck up with gas…that’s huge! I think we all have at least one great fear that keeps us in bondage, so a post like this is encouraging.


    • I guess I was grabbing the bull by it’s balls as they say! haha….Thank you for your support! I’m glad you found it encouraging. Hopefully over the next few weeks I can just do it without any fear. Either way, it was a happy moment for me.


  3. Holly, you are a strong and brave woman. I have no doubt you’ll be able to heal yourself, you recognize your triggers! But being a strong and brave woman, you will also know when it’s ok to cut yourself some slack and not feel ashamed about feeling a little nuts from time to time.
    This post is well timed actually for me. Today is my middle daughter’s birthday, who we lost. I think I will pick up the phone and ask for a little love from a few family members, because your soo soo right, talking about it is the best medicine.
    Some weird behaviors happened to me after I lost my daughter, I woke up every morning thinking daughter #1 was dead, every single morning. I clench my jaw and grind my teeth all the time now for no reason. I developed some weird and crazy superstitious behavior, and I’m not a superstitious person. But I tell myself every day that it’s ok I feel this way, and that I’m maybe being just a little bit silly, and every single day seems to get a little bit more normal. And always amazing to have a supportive partner!
    Good luck with driving a seeder, you will come through it and feel more alive and stronger then ever!


    • Jen!

      I’m so glad you’re be talking about it today, and I am so sorry also for your loss. I know it would be devastating, and yet I cannot even fathom the amount of attachment you must have felt and then lost. My Aunt, told me once that I took the place of her loss…(if you can see where I’m going here). There will be someone who might come into your life at any point that is her spirit. I hope the day goes ok for you. Sending you positive thoughts! xo


  4. Holly, has it really been a year and a half already? Time goes by so quickly!! Good for you for taking that huge step – next time it will be that much easier, and eventually, as you keep taking those baby steps (or huge jumps!) you won’t have that fear at all. Keep working at it bit by bit. You’re getting there!


    • Hey Vanessa! Yeah time has really flown by! I agree with you, soon enough I’ll be able to manage perfectly, so long as I keep trying. Thanks for your message (I found it a little late!).


  5. Wow, good on you for grabbing the bull by the horns and going through with it. That is extremely brave and I salute you!

    I’ve always been afraid of travelling on my own. I’ve never travelled, most of my life, and while I always listen/read with envy when friends, family, colleagues, other bloggers talk about travel, I’ve always secretly been afraid of doing it on my own because I was convinced I’d die if anything went wrong. So last year, after a horrible few months, I grabbed my own bull by it’s horns, sold up and shipped out: I’m not on a year (or more, if the moolah lasts) sabbatical around the world, on my own, on a very worn shoestring budget. The ups and downs have been intense, but all in all, every day is a good learning experience.

    Came to your blog via Broadside, by the way. Always curious about recommended Australian bloggers, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find that you live in Western Australia, and in a regional town! Hello from a fellow immmigrant (I moved to Perth from Singapore 14 years ago)! I am feeling a touch homesick, especially for the bush, so it is very nice to find you 🙂


    • Hello Charlene! Thank you for coming and reading my blog. I 100% understand your homesickness… Just as you long for Eucalyptus trees, I often miss the scent of pine trees. I took a look at your blog, and love your photography! You have an excellent eye! I’ve followed and will keep up with your adventure! It sounds like a lot of exciting moments have come your way. Enjoy your time in Mexico!


  6. Thank you for blogging about something so personal to you. It’s an inspiration for others who struggle with PTSD and anxiety and fear to know that they are not alone and that they can overcome their fears if they work at it like you have. Thank you again for sharing, and congrats on your recent progress. 🙂



    • Thank you for such kind words Kate. I’m a pretty stubborn person….haha so it helps me if I resolve to sort out a problem. Facing my fear was difficult, and it really does help that I’ve got such a calm and patient partner. I know I would be less patient, and it’s given me something to consider if I encounter someone with the same problems in the future. The one thing I feel is immense empathy for burn patients…or someone who’s long since recovered but still has the scars. When I am in Perth I’m hoping to give a gift to the burns ward for helping me and many others. Despite it being a very terrifying experience they really helped me.


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