The FEAR LESS Society
Hello and welcome to The FEAR LESS Society.
My name is Shawna and I used to suffer from a debilitating panic disorder. I had bouts of anxiety all throughout my adolescent years and was diagnosed with ADHD. I had my first full-blown panic attack on the Los Angeles’ 405 freeway three days before my twenty-first birthday. Within a matter of months, it quickly escalated into agoraphobia and I didn’t leave my house for over a year. Yes, over a year!
For those of you who don’t know what agoraphobia is; it is an extreme or irrational fear of entering open or crowded places, of leaving one's own home, or of being in places from which escape is difficult.
In the early stages of my disorder, I was given Prozac, which didn’t sit well with me. I had a few major side effects, including hearing voices. I was already a girl on the edge-of-a-ledge, and the medication pushed me into episodes of paranoia. When I told my then psychiatrist about the voices, she said it would “take a while to regulate into my system and balance out”. She encouraged me to continue to take the medication. Scared, afraid, and paranoid, I didn’t fully understand what was happening to me.
In time, I became depressed. I felt like I was in mental prison. I was unable to go outside or spend time with my friends like I had done all my life. I soon lost my job, lost my apartment, lost my social life, and eventually, I lost myself, too. The mental disorders—together with the medication—saw me spiralling deeper into despair; even becoming suicidal. I hit rock bottom.
As the voices grew louder, my Indigenous mother began to fear that Western medicine had failed me. She made me stop taking the medication and took me to see a Medicine Man at the Pala Indian Reservation in California. That night, he cured me inside a sweatlodge ceremony that was nothing short of a modern-day exorcism. That was the last day that I had a panic attack, but my journey was far from over.
All of a sudden these feelings inside of me were gone and I was left instead with questions. What had I just experienced? I was worried—and now experiencing a fear of the fear—that it may one day come back. I had to baby-step my way back into my life. One day I would walk to the corner and then another day I would walk to the store. Another day, the park. I started driving myself to my appointments, and eventually I found a job and an apartment. It took two years. Life for me slowed down immensely and I was living literally one day at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time.
Over a period of time, I learned what my triggers were. I had to strip back, layer by layer, and it was not an overnight process. I had to learn how to train my brain to change its perception of fear. I had to find the suppressed trauma living inside my body. This took years and a lot of discipline to overcome, but overcome I did. It was not a simple path. After letting go of my psychologist that initially prescribed the medicine, I had a new therapist. She was not shy about letting me know that, in my case, it would be an incredibly hard journey without medication, but not entirely impossible. After my experience with Prozac, I had firmly decided that medication wasn’t right for me. It took me over twenty-years to release all the toxic pent up energy and clean house of all the losses and trauma I was holding onto, consciously and unconsciously. I had to face and banish my inner demons one by one. We all have them to one extent or another. In my case it was severe. I had so many, from suppressed and repressed emotions, trauma, abandonment, and loss.
The FEAR LESS Society is a blog exploring the inner terror of fear and how it stunts our growth, leaving us trapped. We all experience fear in our lives... Fear of speaking before a crowd of people, or the nervousness and terror of taking exams, mustering the courage to ask someone out on a date, or moving to a new state or country for a job, or fear of being successful or failing. We have to ask ourselves: What drives that fear, and how does it stop us from becoming our
We will explore tools that help us fight the good fight against anxiety and panic disorders,
depression, trauma, PTSD, loss, and depression. I will embark on some delectable discussions that include traditional psychotherapy, alternative medicine, life tools, nutrition, exercise, Eastern and Western medicine and more.
The FEAR LESS Society is inspired by my journey of wellness and learning to become FEARLESS. The definition of fearlessness is “lacking fear” and/or “not afriad.” My spiritual mentor taught me that BEWARE meant to Be Aware. In light of breaking it down, our plight to become FEARLESS will be embodied by this space, where together, we are learning to become FEAR LESS.
Long after I stopped suffering from debilitating panic, depression, and agoraphobia, I discovered
that I had very little self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. I was conditioned by what I had
experienced, but I knew deep down inside I was more than I gave myself credit for.
I learned to deprogram the mental conditioning that I had endured and allowed into my belief system. There is hope in turning this all around. Our goal is to shift from a state of fear into a state where we are no longer afraid, where we can FEAR LESS.
We don’t have to be afraid anymore. Come with me on this journey as we uncover different ways to wellness.
You are not alone!