06/01/2016 09:56 GMT | Updated 06/01/2017 05:12 GMT

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway


I was privileged to be asked, just over a year ago, to blog for this paper and have failed to take full advantage of the opportunity, so one of my three resolutions for the year ahead is to write a regular post here. I hope I can live up to it. (The others, incidentally, are not to care about my weight and to - oh, I have forgotten was it was actually, but I wrote it down somewhere so I am sure I can soon find out again and will share the information with you if and when I do).

Anyway. As you can probably guess from the little note next to my byline - 'mental health blogger' - I am on a constant drive to beat my neuroses. Sometimes it feels a bit like that game where you hit the crocodiles or frogs or whatever with a hammer - you bash one down then another pops up in a different place, seemingly faster and faster... Funnily enough I started to write this blog one day last week and then the following day Deborah Ross, one of my favourite columnists in The Times, used the same analogy in that paper and had the correct name for the game too - Whack a Mole.

So then I was going to edit that bit out of this column because I didn't want anyone to think I was copying her. Then I decided that in fact I should go ahead, because I thought of it before she wrote her column and anyway, what does it matter... You see what I mean? I am neurotic. I think about and analyse far too many things, take responsibility for all of it and then anguish unnecessarily.

I am going to keep fighting my neuroses. Sometimes this is best done by ignoring them (although note that this is pretty hard if, like me, you are in the habit of writing about your various issues and then publishing the said writing). Some of my difficulties I have to face head on. I am not sure why, I just feel compelled to. For example, many people (women especially) have or develop a fear of driving and they, probably sensibly, just take avoidance action - after all, nobody has to get behind the wheel of a car.

I like driving around town and am grateful to have the use of a car, but I have always been fearful of driving on motorways. I don't really need to do any motorway driving these days but every so often I make myself do some anyway, just to prove that I still can. Even if I am shaking and sweating before the journey (and I always am) I find that the next time is immeasurably easier (as long as I don't leave it too long between trips).

I won't list any of my other 'problems' just now. I have done so elsewhere, at length. I do want to share the good news though, for anyone who is still suffering from various worries, phobias, neuroses or however you want to term them. As you get older, all sorts of things become easier - from socialising (you tend not to care so much about what other people think of you) to working (you tend not to care so much about what other people think of you) to battling your various fears (you tend not to care so much...etc).

Basically as you get older, you realise that you are not the only person in the world who worries about things. Everyone is riddled with insecurities, they just manifest them in different ways, or if they are really lucky, they have learned to overcome their difficulties (I recently re-read M Scott Peck's The Road Less Travelled and it was brilliant on this subject).

So, my advice is, just get on with life. Tackle things, or choose not to. Live. Don't be shackled by fear. In fact, feel the fear and do it anyway. And guess what - I stole the title for this article from the book of the same name by Susan Jeffers. But - you know - who cares?!