I spend much of my life in fear.
Fear and dread.
I am mostly frightened of things that have not happened, things that probably will not happen, and things that are not happening.
Yet, inside my head, fear lurks like a scarab, scratching and scraping at frayed nerve ends; never ceasing, except, perhaps, for that first few seconds of awakeness following sleep, when all the possibilities of a good day are crammed into a few, brief moments.
I am a sufferer from a mental illness, I am not stupid; I know that certain things of which I am afraid are unlikely to happen, I know that the world is not as my head interprets it. Yet, there is, seemingly, no escape from the dread that comes with every telephone ring, with every siren, with every knock upon theoor. The unopened mail that is official has fear written all over it, as surely as if the sender had inscribed ‘Be afraid of the content of this letter’ in bright red crayon on the envelope. Flashing blue lights that hint at emergency, arrest – cardiac and otherwise! – , exposure, lies; each whirring beat of the helicopter blade that hovers in the neighbourhood, looking watching, listening.
Shame of loss; losing a home, a loved one, a partner, a child. Shame, indeed, of having the fear in the first place; as a human being, supposedly wise in years, it is unbecoming, as a Christian, it is damning in itself as commentators professional and personal remind you that the bible ‘says’ ‘Do Not Fear!’ many many times. These are fears that you will be shunned not only by community, church, and friends, but by very God Himself. The dread of letting down your family or your friends – actual, virtual, or imaginary – is a constant companion.
One is assaulted by doses of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – if one is lucky – from the psychiatric department, mostly which seeks to persuade kindly, but instead can instill the fear of failing the practitioner. The drugs should alleviate the terror, but one is frightened to tell someone that they do not.
Living with fear is a by product of PTSD and depressive illness. It is exhausting and it drains. It also, strangely, increases belly fat. Prolonged Cortisol release, without breaks, can cause weight gain around the middle. Cortisol is a fight-or-flight hormone released when one is anxious or emotional.
I’m frightened of something that does not exist.
I’m frightened of people laughing at me for being frightened of something that does not exist.