How fear cripples a person and some ideas on how to overcome some of its worst effects
First of all, 99 percent of my writing here has been political in nature, if not 100 percent. This is going to be an exception to that and is being published here because my other blog site would end up being a totally nasty experience for me if I published it there.
I wanted to use a picture to appeal to an audience but couldn’t find one that I could load. Now, hopefully, some people will read but even if not, I hope to exorcise some personal demons, or at least express my feelings to get things out there.
I will start by talking about my childhood. Yes, I definitely remember waking up at a relatively young age afraid of “death”. Now, part of that might seem to be connected to the fact that I was raised in a very conservative church that preached hellfire and damnation most Sundays, Even when the sermons seemed loving and not firey, the general message was consistent with that message.
But my absolute panic seemed to be more general. It wasn’t that I was afraid of hell, it was the actual “not living anymore that caused me to wake up in cold sweats.” I will always remember the fact that my mother once told me that I was a horrible child to get to go to bed at night because I was afraid I would miss something. Death, it seemed to me then and now, to be about missing a whole lot of something…much of it really interesting.
I know that fear, which I originally thought was unique to myself, to be an actual phobia called Thanatophobia. If you doubt me, check google. You will find a lot list of articles where people have chosen to provide answers for dealing with this fear. Based on that widespread concern about “overcoming” it, it seems to be another pandemic.
At age 68, I am still not sure how to cure myself of this fear or if there is any clue. I do know that there have been times when I have not experienced panic attacks over it. I will list some of those times below, but in the meantime, I will say that most of the “cures” people come up with don’t really seem complete. For example, very religious people will tell you that “believing in Jesus” will solve the issue. But they also have a proscribed way that you are supposed to “believe in Jesus” which to date makes no sense to me. Note, I don’t reject the possible existence of God, I just don’t quite find their dogma acceptable to me, mentally. Some suggest psychology, while others use science with the “life after death” research that Elizabeth Kubler Ross (I believe that is correct) and others have been involved with.
While none of those seem to answer my question, as I said above, there are times, even years during my life that I didn’t have a single “panic attack” about the issue. Let me list some of those:
- when I was dealing with first my mother and then my life partner’s last days
- Strangely enough when I was in the depth of blogging about the horrors of trump and his infiltration of politics in the United States (I know that the followers of trump are still a threat but how many times can I scream that before it starts feeling pointless even to me?)
So what do these times have in common? In both cases, I was part of life outside myself. I was not isolated certainly when I was focused on my mother Roy or politics to the extent that I was posting, at some points, an article just about every day.
I am writing now because I just took a walk at 4:30 Am after waking up in a cold sweat from what I can only call a panic attack. So why am I experiencing one now? Here are some possible explanations…maybe several of them are working together to bring this issue back up to the forefront.
- the Covid pandemic led me to isolate myself at home…especially with people running around without masks or vaccines.
- Two cases of skin cancer in the last 3 or 4 years — this second case (just about 2 weeks ago) being worst than the first. (still basal but more aggressive than the first)
Now, let me emphasize that they did get all cancer cells this second time also, but now I am concerned about every blemish or bump. Plus obviously, the sun is not my friend so I am even more concerned about being out during the daytime.
So take a person who tends to “keep himself to himself” to begin with due to a mother who taught me that behavior starting when I was an infant, and add issues like the above, and the isolation I feel is strongly showing itself. I do think I notice a pattern of isolation fueling a sort of almost despair that fuels the horrors of what I remember a country saying or song mentioning “afraid of living, and afraid of dying”.
I used the example from youtube at the top to represent that feeling. I am not so much “tired of living” as I am “tired of living this way”….ie feeling isolated and alone and feeling like nothing better is on the way.
Now, that almost sounds ridiculous to me because every time I think things will never improve, they always seem to. And very rarely is anything as bad as I think it will be. (again thanks mom) Now if I can just hang on till it gets better, or have faith that the myriad of times that I thought the sky was falling and then find out it was just a bump in the road might just continue to be true.