T Nation

Dealing with Fear

Serious post here

Three weeks ago I went through a fire fighter training, Smokedivers. Basically a two day advanced SCBA and survival class. I didn’t complete the class due to almost blacking out from dehydration on the last evolution (yes, I’m a dumbass) and tapping out. After sitting down and thinking about what happened I’ve come to the conclusion it wasn’t my body physically letting me down, it was a mental thing.

Doing this training I discovered I have some sort of claustrophobia. It kicked in when having to crawl through confined spaces, getting hung up with all the gear on. Specifically going through pieces of 2’ pipe.

I’ve got to deal with this fear because I am going to go back in September and complete the class. Physically, endurance wise, I know what I need and will be ready. What I’m struggling with is the mental part. The obvious answer is go buy a piece of pipe, put it in the back yard and start crawling through it, face it and kill it. But sitting here typing this, the thought of gearing up and doing that is jacking up my pulse and respiration’s.

Have any of you had to deal with a fear, a phobia, in order to accomplish something and if so, what worked for you?

[quote]lawsonsamuels wrote:
Serious post here

Three weeks ago I went through a fire fighter training, Smokedivers. Basically a two day advanced SCBA and survival class. I didn’t complete the class due to almost blacking out from dehydration on the last evolution (yes, I’m a dumbass) and tapping out. After sitting down and thinking about what happened I’ve come to the conclusion it wasn’t my body physically letting me down, it was a mental thing. Doing this training I discovered I have some sort of claustrophobia. It kicked in when having to crawl through confined spaces, getting hung up with all the gear on. Specifically going through pieces of 2’ pipe.

I’ve got to deal with this fear because I am going to go back in September and complete the class. Physically, endurance wise, I know what I need and will be ready. What I’m struggling with is the mental part. The obvious answer is go buy a piece of pipe, put it in the back yard and start crawling through it, face it and kill it. But sitting here typing this, the thought of gearing up and doing that is jacking up my pulse and respiration’s.

Have any of you had to deal with a fear, a phobia, in order to accomplish something and if so, what worked for you?[/quote]

You know exactly how to beat this, you even said it yourself. Go buy a pipe and start crawling. The ONLY way to beat this is to face it.

Also, ask yourself, what is it that you fear when crawling through small pipes? Why?

what freaked me out, was being in the pipe, pulling myself through face down, cause theirs no room to raise your head and look forward…my SCBA mask compressed to my face and my air was cut off for a few seconds.

the fact I couldn’t move forward or back, I was stuck in their, that was the fear. no control, no ability to just get out of the spot and go on, just stuck.

Buy the pipe and sleep in the bitch every night til you get over your fear. Grab the bull by the balls and twist!!

Thats my motto…

okay not really, I just made that up, but because of this thread I now have more ammo for the man above thread! Sweet!!! =D

^sick twisted bastard that secretly envies and lusts after firefighters, disguises this with cynicism and self loathing.

yeah, gonna buy a pipe. Mother in law runs a lumber yard so might get a good deal on it.

I was scared to death to ride a motorcycle. I had wanted one for years but the truth was, it was hard for me to do…until my grandmother died.

I am one of those types of people who hates having anything get the upper hand as far as “life” is concerned. If something scares me, I want to conquer it even more than I would otherwise.

Every time I got on that bike, what made me push the limits was focusing on every emotion that fired up after she died. I wrote this about that concept a while back:

To get over a fear like that takes finding whatever hate, guilt, fear, anger or passion-filled “fire” that got you to that point in life and focusing on that until you get through it.

I relate it that line in the Animated Dark Knight movies…“You don’t deal with pain, Bruce…you work through it”.

This is true.

I love my bike now. I also take risks that most would be afraid to. But then, dying doesn’t exactly scare me that much at this point. I refuse to let fear control me that way.

[quote]lawsonsamuels wrote:
^sick twisted bastard that secretly envies and lusts after firefighters, disguises this with cynicism and self loathing.

yeah, gonna buy a pipe. Mother in law runs a lumber yard so might get a good deal on it. [/quote]

^ Fears large pipes after his uncles showed him the meaning of “laying pipe” when he was a boy.

[quote]lawsonsamuels wrote:
^sick twisted bastard that secretly envies and lusts after firefighters, disguises this with cynicism and self loathing.

yeah, gonna buy a pipe. Mother in law runs a lumber yard so might get a good deal on it. [/quote]

The pipe isn’t the problem…

I think this particular problem stems from something a lot of people (ESPECIALLY men) cope with…not being able to handle a lack of control.

We hate not having control over a situation, whether it’s a relationship, driving on ice, crawling through a confined space, etc. Understandable to a point, also…I think it’s just a primal instinct that you have to, at some point, overcome. For me, it was roller coasters. Knowing that once I strapped in, and it started climbing, I had ZERO control over what happened. It was terrifying. So I went on roller coasters, plain and simple. Now I love the thrill, and look at it as “well, it’s out of my hands now”…and enjoy the ride.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

[quote]lawsonsamuels wrote:
^sick twisted bastard that secretly envies and lusts after firefighters, disguises this with cynicism and self loathing.

yeah, gonna buy a pipe. Mother in law runs a lumber yard so might get a good deal on it. [/quote]

The pipe isn’t the problem…[/quote]

Unless the pipe truly is too small for him to crawl out of, then the pipe is a BIG fkn problem!!! lol

^ can’t have fun with Richard Gere and his gerbils due to his opening being too small. learned the hard way.

no, the pipe is not too small. I lost about 25 lbs before going to that school, was a definite help.

I’ve done confined space drills before, never had a problem. In this school though you were going through openings as small as 18" and 16" in full gear. it is very possible to do, but it can really screw with you when you get hung up trying to pass through a spot and can’t move forwards or backwards.

You should put about 20 staples into your arm.

I’m sure my question won’t help your situation much but going through this scenario in my head is gettin me worked up too.

What do you do if you get caught and your mask cuts off your breathing? I’m assuming there is some quick way your classmates(?) can help you out? That is what scares me.

Plus, I don’t think I could fit through a 16in hole…

^ Uses trying to overcome his fear of pipes as justification for sucking on as much manpipe as he can handle.

My lil brother and I used to handcuff I would try umy hands behing my back and tie my legs together, then I would kneel down in a kitty pool and he would try to drown me and i’d use my torso to TRY wiggle out from under him and go up for air. There were times where he got the best of me and I could not get up and I honestly thought I was going to drown before he’d finally pull me up with a big smile bragging how he could’ve drowned me.

This may sound incredibly stupid but with two young boys who are always trying to do come up with new ways to kick eachothers ass it seemed like a great idea.

Anyways one day my sister who couldn’t swim very well was pulled out by the undertoe at laguna beach and was drowning, I swam to her and she in her panic began to claw and grab me pulling me under. My initial reaction was to panic and push her off, but I managed to maintain my composure and swim her out to shallow water. I think extreme situations prepare you best for extreme panic. Like I said, buy the pipe and live in the damn thing.

the only way the mask would shut off is if you were compressing it down into the floor, only happened the one time, I learned not to do that again.

the 16" is actually a drill going through the spaces in between studs in a framed wall, not a 16" hole. 16" wide by maybe 30" high. It is still a major bitch to maneuver and compress yourself through a space that small.

the 18" was the opening into a 3’ wide pipe, half the opening blocked, then two more obstacles inside the pipe each also covering 1/2 the pipe diameter. that stuff I had no problem with.

I understand what you’re dealing with.

For me it was water.

I had to complete a swim qual while I was a Navy Corpsman so I could fly Medivac missions on deployment. I was a decent swimmer, but was terrible in the water with all the gear on (flight suit, steel toed boots, survival vest, helmet, etc). I went into the first exam cold, passed every competency but the dead mans’ float, thus failing the whole thing. I was fucking terrified to think I’d have to do all of it again in a month.

I ended up breaking the events down by one and training with each piece of gear individually, ultimately adding them together one by one until I was comfortable. Not sure if you can do that with turnout gear or not, but if you do end up getting a pipe, crawl through that motherfucker in boxers until you feel right, then add a shirt, then a helmet, then the coat, then the boots/trousers and tank until it all feels second nature.

It worked for me.

I’m blessed to have no phobias. So of course, for a while, I made it my life’s purpose to do enough stupid shit to where I have DEFINITELY experienced fear. There’s been a lot of good advice given so far, but I’ll add my part: Control your breathing. High stress situations bring on the fight or flight response, which causes a significant chemical cocktail in your blood stream causing all kinds of physiological responses that you may not be prepared for. You feel like you’re losing control. As H$M said, this lack of control adds fuel to the metaphorical (and in your case literal) fire. So the way to re-establish control (and eventually not lose it in the first place) is to control the only thing you can - your breathing.

Now I’m not just talking about “taking a few deep breaths”. I’m talking about learning how to control your breathing while in action. From holding your breath and knowing your limits, to slowing your breathing during exertion and WILLINGLY depriving yourself of oxygen and getting used to dealing with that. There are some martial arts, yoga and meditation practices that could assist you with this (as well as some modern ones, such as running with a snorkel, etc…). This may seem like it’s a little out there and I wouldn’t normally get this “woo woo” on you, but you are a warrior - putting your life on the line for a just cause and I would see you having all the tools available to you. Hold this mindset and train as warriors used to train. Look into it. They knew a little something about overcoming fear.

Good luck.

DON’T FIGHT YOUR FEAR, MAKE CONTACT WITH IT

It’s hard to give some kind of advice over the internet, but here’s my .02

The human mind is an expert at analyzing, solving, judging,… It’s the product of 1000’s of years of human evolution and it’s made for one thing only: surviving. Imagine you live in the stone age. In the distance you see a shadow. Is it a bear or is it a bush with maybe some berries, you wonder. Your mind will probably tell you: don’t go near it, leave it be, you can get lunch many times, but you can be lunch only once. Your mind will choose the safest route.

Uncertainty, loss of control is the most threatening thing to a human mind. It’s the antithese of what a mind likes to do. Your mind needs a solution to a problem, WHATEVER the cost, it hates uncertainty. In the real world we became pretty good at finding solutions (fire, wheel, warm water, cars, electricity,…). But when it comes tot your emotions, you’ll see that your mind is powerless. You can analyze your emotions, searching for an answer or causes, try positive thinking, try medication, drugs or booze, avoid situations in which negative emotions arise,… It all might work for some time, but will these emotions really be gone? No, in trying to control negative emotions with your mind you can even create more negative emotions. Now you are fearing the fear, you’re depressed because you can’t control your depression, you get angry because you feel powerless,…

If this class is really meaningfull to you, you indeed know already what to do. Don’t fight your fear, don’t avoid it, just let it be. Gradually try to expose yourself to this fear. First by recalling your past experience, just let it come to you. Then you can try to imagine what it would be like to be in that situation again, be afraid, let the fear come to you, approach it like it is an old friend that you meet again, a forgotten part of you. Be curious. Then gradually expose yourself to smaller rooms and spaces and just feel the fear, but don’t judge it. You will notice your mind scream for an exit, but just observe. The more you do this, the more you adapt. Just do it gradually. There’s no need to speed things up. Don’t see your fear as an enemy, because then your fear will ALWAYS be fear, whatever the situation.

This class is what you seem to value, this is what YOU want. The only thing for you to do is act upon it and experience it without judging, thinking, analyzing,… How much time and energy are you losing over pondering, when there’s just one thing to do. You can’t “outwait” your fear.

(Can you hear your mind fight right now when you read this? “But I don’t want to, I can’t, what’s the point of this, I am weak, I will be too overwhelmed, this is BS, this will never work…”)

appreciate all the ideas. This is what I love about T-Nation, despite the bullshit and trolls, there are some damn serious and intelligent people on here who will lend a hand with knowledge.

next class is held in September, 9-11 this year, ironically enough. I will be there. I will complete it.

Definitely just expose yourself to the situation as much as possible. Only real way to become comfortable with a situation is to acclimatize yourself to it. I alwadys found if i was scared of something, i just had to keep doing it until i was comfortable with it, such as riding a bike, learning how to use my whole body to hit someone on the football field with reckless abandon, fighting, etc.

I was always terrified of how i’d react in a fight, and growing up bigger in stature then most of my peers, i was often a target. Especially in hockey, as i always played a very physical style. Was challanged so many times to fight (on and off the ice) and never did. The best thing that ever happen to me was a bigger guy grabbing onto me and MAKING me fight. I had no choice or I would of gotten my face beat in.

Point is i didnt skate away, i didnt talk alot of shit until the situation dissapated. I decided in that moment it was time to man up and face my fear, losing a fight. I definitely wouldnt call what ensued a win, but it was by no means a loss, and from that day on i was never scared of it. I knew what kind of man i was, and i think thats the biggest thing you learn when you overcome a fear, that you are a fucking man and can do anything if you put your mind to it.

And nothing is more liberating then that realization that the only limits we have are the ones we set on ourselves. Bam!