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As we get older we like to think of ourselves as aging gracefully and leaving some of our youthful preoccupations and concerns behind. But getting older can also bring with it an increased risk of falling, more physical fragility, and those things can make people fearful of doing things they once did. People lose their confidence in their abilities and this lack of confidence can turn into fear and the loss of some of the person’s independence.

We witnessed this loss of confidence to move as freely, or to try new things, or go new places in some of the people we have visited this holiday season, and it made me think about my own life over the last few years.

I have become very comfortable isolating socially, staying in the house all day, not visiting parks and museums like I used to, never driving the car (I think it has been over six months since I got behind the wheel), and basically staying home as much as possible.

I noticed that I, too, am losing much of my confidence and therefore my independence. The woman I was four years ago – working, shopping, running errands, traveling by myself, etc. Is not the woman I am today and looks nothing like the woman I was before my first episode who would jump a plane and travel by herself to Europe or the Middle East.

I don’t want to travel to another country by myself anymore, but in the New Year, I would like to gain back some of my independence and confidence. I know that having that confidence actually makes me stronger and better able to handle my every day symptoms.

These may not seem like big goals to you, but after the holidays, I am going to start going to the grocery store by myself again. I am going to learn how to drive our new car. I am going to keep my bus pass current and meet my husband after work a couple of days a week to make sure I am getting out of the house.  I am going to spend time writing at coffee shops. I am going to attend more writer’s groups.

Not doing all the things above, and spending my time at home, has made me so fearful and has destroyed my confidence in my ability to handle situations by myself. All of this has decreased my independence dramatically.

I have a desire to be as strong and capable as possible. I don’t want my world to get smaller and smaller each year as it has been – I want to expand and grow and that means I am going to have to work at doing some things that other people take for granted.

I think the effort will be worth it though and with each small success my confidence will grow and grow and so will my independence. Who knows what will be possible for me at this time next year? I don’t know, I only know my world will be larger and I will be better for it.

In the face of a challenge I don’t want to cower with fear or insecurities. I want to say, “Bring it on!” in my most powerful voice, and really mean it.