PROMPT: How do you act when you’re afraid?
I haven’t been afraid in a long time.
I actually find that kind of depressing. I know that sounds weird but the fact that my life holds no panic instinct I think means it’s too safe. I’m not saying I’ll move to Johannesburg, Africa or something but a health dose of fear keeps us on our toes, no?
After thinking about it some, I realized there’s different kinds of fear and different reactions to it. There’s the Fight or Flight instantaneous fear like a car is speeding toward you or you misstep on the stairwell and pitch forward. This is handled by pure instinct and the conscious brain has little to do with the outcome.
This is the most common type of fear I think and I deal with this just about the same way everyone does. I think I’m going to die for about 2.5 seconds, scramble out of harms way, cling to something while my body freezes and tries to unlock my frozen muscles and I breath through the heart attack. Maybe I need to change my underwear too, depending on the severity of the scare.
There’s the kind of fear that’s controlled. It’s the CHOICE to be scared, like going into a haunted house or on a roller coaster. That’s more of a laugh/cry kind of scared that’s exhilarating and adrenaline-fueled. I actually am pretty unphased by this kind of fear. Once I decide to do it I’m like…meh. It’s here. I’m quiet, usually, even when monsters are coming at me or I’m doing a corkscrew. I don’t scream or cry or laugh. It’s stoicism at it’s finest. Sort of.
The last time I was truly, heart stoppingly afraid was the day my neck closed up and I had to be rushed into surgery. I remember laying on the couch a couple hours before, starving, dehydrated and barely breathing, trying not to go insane or cry. It would only make things worse.
I laid there, trying to sleep, to go into oblivion for awhile to stop the silent torture my body was inflicting on me.
“You’re okay. Don’t panic. Breathe in, and out. Do it again. Don’t panic. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Keep doing that. You’re not going to stop breathing. You’re not going to die. In and out.”
This was actual dialogue from my head at the time. FOR HOURS. DAYS! It was all I could do not to scream, trapped in a slowly suffocating body with my heart beating so hard on my ribs it moved my body on the couch. As if I could scream though. I couldn’t even talk or breathe.
I wasn’t scared when they told me they might have to trach me. I wasn’t scared of the drugs not working or not waking up or the pain afterward. But the feeling of slowly having my air tube close over days, especially when the doctors had already looked at it and sent me home, was terrifying.
My faith in health care capabilities was shaken to the very core.
I find that my dislike of hospitals has increased, despite my life being saved. I’ve found that any blockage in my throat or nose now makes that panic resurge. And I found that in time of extreme duress, I don’t lose my damn mind. That’s how I deal with extreme fear. I’m calm until I don’t have to be anymore.
“A woman is a lot like tea. You don’t know how strong she can be until you put her in hot water.”