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I assume all human beings have fears. I don’t know if it is my personality or my illness that causes me to experience such high levels of fear. At the doctor’s office, my pulse goes up to somewhere around 120. My doctor jokes that I am running a marathon in his office. Seriously, though I had to buy a pulse and blood pressure monitor to check my pulse and blood pressure at home to make sure that the numbers at the doctor’s office are not my normal range. I’m happy to report that at home, I have much healthier numbers.

I have been preparing to go to the dentist all week. My dentist is fantastic, his hygienist is so compassionate and kind and yet, I still get anxious and fearful about going to the dentist (not quite as bad as going to the doctor).

Last night I was talking to my husband about my fears and I said to him, “Do you know how I get through my fear of the dentist? I think about Senator John McCain and what he went through in Vietnam. I tell myself, I will never in my life have to experience something so horrible, awful, hateful, loveless, terrifying, or painful as torture. Look at Senator McCain. He survived one of the worst things humans do to one another and went on to help lead our country.”

It may not make sense to many people, but John McCain’s experience is the reason I can do things that terrify me. Many people support and are inspired by Senator McCain. He has had a very successful political career, and he manages to work successfully with Republicans and Democrats (an amazing thing in this divisive Congress). There is much to admire about him.  I like him as a politician, but that isn’t what inspires me about him.

His experience as a POW (prisoner of war) makes me feel like I can overcome my fears. He is a personal hero to me because he is who I hold up as someone who is alive that has more courage, strength and ability to recover, and then thrive, even after spending five and a half years dealing with continuous abuse and trauma.

I don’t know what level of fear you have, but if you are willing to listen to someone wracked by fear, then may I suggest you keep the name John McCain in your bag of coping skills?

I doubt that Senator McCain will ever know that the worst part of his life helps a mentally ill woman do things she may not otherwise be able to do. I don’t know if he would even understand or care about such things, but the great thing about public servants is they are public and holding one up as my guide to overcoming fear is allowed.

It’s not only allowed, in my world, but it is also encouraged.