Courage Is Donating Blood

Courage Is Donating Blood

| Cara Kaplan, 26

 A fun outgoing girl with anxiety issues, but, who doesn’t, right? I’m always fun, showing one version of myself to the world, but on the inside I’m having an attack of insecurities and worries that I don’t show. And those insecurities follow me always, thinking the worst that could happen and always the best option is not to do anything and stay in my comfort zone. Even these struggles follow me to my professional life, where I’m always in a battle between finding what I love to do and doing what I’m best at.

Day by day I try to prevent these things from interfering with my life, however, it has been a constant struggle. I find it hard to enjoy life because I can’t help but think about the worst of every situation, or maybe a random panic attack ruining my day. I wrote a statement awhile ago where I decide to face my fears and follow a #100daysproject, but even with that decision, I was afraid to be judged or rejected. A month later, after changing the day I’d begin my challenge hundreds of times, I posted my project, expecting the worst feedback from everybody. The first challenge was to accept suggestions of things other people think I should do. And that is where I got my worst challenge, and biggest fear; a very good friend challenged me to donate blood.

Needles are by far my biggest fear.

I’ve been afraid of them for years and I have no explanation as to how I grew afraid of them. I avoided needles at all costs, even when it came to my health. I’d procrastinate on making appointments when I knew I’d need to get blood work or shots. And when the time came, I’d never go alone. I always needed someone to hold my hand. Of course, I had nurses roll their eyes at me and make comments about how ridiculous I was.

I’ve heard comments like “What are you going to do when you get pregnant one day? Do you know how many needles you’ll need then?” Imagine listening to that when you’re crying and only 16 years old. Ten years later I still get mad when I remember that moment.

Unfortunately, for health reasons in the last year, I’ve had to get more blood work done than I’ve had in the last 5 years. I got my first IV due to being in the hospital. I still remember the anxiety and the sensation of the needle. Blood work is one thing, you’re over in a few minutes, but an IV? My arm went numb, I refused to move it, and just remembering the fluids running into my veins makes me nauseous just thinking about it.

So after that experience, I decided that it would be a great way to overcome that fear by willingly donating blood. And why not, help someone at the same time? Did you know that you can possibly help three people just by donating blood? I didn’t! Helping others is something I strive to do in life. It gives me joy and purpose.

When the day arrived I almost backed out, my anxiety manifested itself into physical pain. My entire body hurt and I was nauseous, sweating and felt like having a panic attack. What if I faint? What if the nurse can’t find my vein and has to poke at me multiple times? I’m pretty sure I spent the entire day with a migraine, but I knew it was my anxiety controlling me.

So I got to sit on the bench in a blood drive bus, I was a nervous wreck, but something inside me was telling me that this is the right thing to do and I’m feeling courageous just by getting to that point. I feel happy and proud and I smile to the nurse and she smiles at me back, I feel warm and ready to help others with my blood. After 8 minutes I’m done, I feel dizzy, but it’s natural. I think to myself that I am definitely doing this again. The pros outweigh the cons for sure!

Facing fears is teaching me that once I overcome being scared and uncomfortable I will only make myself stronger. It will help me live a more fulfilling life. In a few months, I’ll be marrying the love of my life and I’m ready for this adventure because I know I’ve learned how to defeat my insecurities and control my anxiety, I am, every day from now on, a better version of myself.

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