Finding balance Around fear, change and the unknown


   Emotions tend to ebb and flow like the tide being drained away from the shore awaiting to rise again. Finding a balance around fears of change and the unknown is essential for navigating mental health symptoms.  

"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship." (Alcott L. M., 1868) 

   Fear is a primitive emotion that alerts the body to the presence of physical or psychological perceived threats (Adolphs R. 2013). When a perceived threat occurs, the body has a biochemical and emotional reaction. Biochemical reactions are connected to physical response’s such as fight-flight or freeze (Kozlowska et al., 2015). Whereas the emotional response to fear involves the release of chemicals like adrenaline which can be associated his perceived positive and negative experiences.  

   Imagine the ability to navigate fear-based reactions as you come face to face with a storm of symptoms that impact your mood, communication with others, sleep and appetite. Having awareness and a willingness to explore perceptions around fear can help create clarity. When sailing in a sea filled with mental health symptoms, do you feel lost, is there a storm approaching? Or is this an illusion? Are you already immersed in a storm and are afraid to travel to calmer waters?  

   When immersed in mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety the body tends to adapt to certain behaviors that create a sense of “normalcy”. Overtime the body begins to become comfortable and perceives anything different as a threat or unsafe (Adolphs R. 2013). The anticipated fear of sailing into change prevents the ability to foster growth.  

   In addition to treatment, below is a list of supports to help explore and navigate fear around substance use/mental health: 

  • 12-Step Based Programs  
  • Mutal Aid Groups 
  • Women for Sobriety 
  • SMART Recovery 
  • Faith-Based Recovery 
  • Culture- Based Recovery 
  • Art Therapy  
  • Music Therapy 
  • Fitness 
  • Yoga 
  • Energy Healing 

    I invite you to be curious about the ebbs and flows of your emotions, thoughts and behaviors. To imagine what it would be like acknowledge your fears and have a supportive community to guide your journey into the unknown. 

By: Heather Congdon, LPC-A, MAATC  



Adolphs R. (2013). The biology of fear. Current biology: CB, 23(2), R79–R93. 

Alcott L. M. (1868), Little Women. Boston, MA: Roberts Brothers, Ch.44 (1).  

Kozlowska, K., Walker, P., McLean, L., & Carrive, P. (2015). Fear and the Defense Cascade:  
Clinical Implications and Management. Harvard review of psychiatry, 23(4), 263–287. 

By: Heather Congdon