Fear is a Mindkiller
I was reading The Pop-Up Book of Phobias when I came across the page for clowns. I thought clown fear was a rare thing. At least I didn't think it was common enough to be included in a book about phobias, or to have a real name: Coulrophobia
Think about your fears; clowns, heights, darkness, snakes. What are you afraid of? Any idea how you got that fear? Did a clown once frighten you? Did a snake once bite you? Fall off a building? I bet not.
I'm afraid of water - deep water, wide water, open water. Yet I've never had a near drowning experience, nor any kind of experience that would make my brain go into high anxiety mode when confronted with a large body of water. Same with heights or clowns or large crowds of unfamiliar people.
Perhaps your brain comes with all these pre-set modes. It's impossible to turn them on or off or adjust their volume without some serious rewiring. And to rewire those things often means rewiring things that don't need it. In other words, fixing one thing will fuck up something else. So you have to decided at some point, is fixing one fear worth, say, turning off the switch for emotions?
Anti-anxiety drugs are good for some people. They work miracles for other anxiety/panic/fear sufferers. Some brains and bodies accept these things while others reject them. I seem to be a rejecter. Once, I gave up my soul to save my brain and decided in the end that it wasn't worth giving up 90% of who I was to save the 10% of me that was crazy.
So now here I am, full of fear and panic and anxiety once again. Since my emergency episode the other night, I've reconciled myself with the fact that I'm batshit crazy. Ok, not really, but maybe getting there. I figure it's five years before I'm a full blown agoraphobic, or at least one of those people who wander the neighborhood at 7am in bunny slippers and a house coat, collecting stray cats and empty soda cans and talking to hyacinth bushes.
My sister invited us to her block party today. For two days, I've been thinking about nothing but this block party and how many people are going to be there and how many of those people I don't know. I've been thinking of excuses for not going - my mouth still hurts from the dental work, I have a cold, I just don't feel good - and I wish I could be honest and just say to her: I'm not coming because just the idea of it is making me nervous. I don't want to spend all day with a whole bunch of people I don't know. Most of the time I don't even want to spend a whole day with a bunch of people I do know. I just want to be home, in the comfort of my own living room. And if I do go out, I want it to be on my terms, where I want to go, who I want to go with, how long I want to be there, who I want to talk to. That's just the way it is. How do I get people to recognize that without making me feel stupid? How do you say to someone "I can't come to your party because parties make me freak out" without them thinking you're an asshole?
So the anxiety of reneging on an invitation adds to the panic I've felt about accepting the invite all along. And why did I accept? Because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I do have my good days. I have moments where I can take on the world. I've been to parties and gatherings and picnics and concerts. Sometimes it's ok. Sometimes I can do it. Sometimes, not so much. This week has been bad.
The heat is stifling, I'm exhausted and the middle of August brings thoughts of getting ready for school, which always translates into dollars, which translates into anxiety which, at some point, turns into panic. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel like I can tackle that head on and I'll drag the kids school shopping, get it all done in one day and the feeling of accomplishment for having done that will let me ride a crest for a couple of days, until something like the heating bill or the threat of a hurricane or the fact that my 43rd birthday is two weeks away will knock me back down. Mostly, I don't even need that trigger to knock me off the crest. Sometimes, like Monday evening, it just happens, out of nowhere. The panic sneaks up on me like an evil clown, just jumps out of the bushes and yells BOO! and - instant freak out.
My life is a roller coaster of fear and fearlessness, of calm and panic. And I'm afraid of roller coasters.
But you know what? I've accepted it. I've accepted this is who I am and how I operate and how my mind works. I just need others to do the same.