What Are You Afraid of?

I am not afraid of much any more.

Height doesn’t bother me as long as it is not combined with speed, I’m good. Oh, I should clarify: speed as in roller coasters. That’s just nuts. I can’t even watch them on television.

All right, I can tolerate roller coasters if I have to because I figured out if I close my eyes the whole time, I don’t see the scary parts, and I’m okay. Now some people might say that’s wasting a great ride and the whole point of roller coaster riding. I’m just telling you how I coped with it when I had to ride.

I learned at a young age how to cope with my fears. I had a kind of claustrophobia that started when I was nine, and it was pretty serious. I felt as though I was going to faint or throw up. My stomach hurt and everything looked woozy to me. Woozy. Yes, that’s the best word I can think of because it is not easy to explain a panic attack. I told my family, and the doctor checked me out but couldn’t find anything. So! In the 1960s there was no support for this kind of mental problem. (At least I didn’t get locked up!) There were no medicines other than Valium, and that wasn’t what you give a nine-year-old.

The reaction I got from people around me was like the so-called “natural childbirth” method: Breathe Through It! Just breathe through it. Just breathe. As an aside, I did natural childbirth three times. I am, as we all were, a very strong woman.

So when I got dizzy, which was what I called my panic attacks, I had to figure out what to do. Fight or Flee? No. Usually, I was in a place where I could do neither.

What I could do, though, was sit on the end seat, so one side had a bit more breathing room, and I could always claim that at family dinners because I’m a lefty. Easy.

(Don’t get me started on being a lefty. That will be a later topic. There will be discussion afterwards.)

Elevators were hard unless I could manage to stay near the front. Most children are squished to the back. However, the ride is usually short.

Movie theaters and auditoriums were my bane, and I couldn’t always sit near an aisle. So, you can imagine how terrified I was of being ON stage. I was usually in a singing group, but the hot lights really bothered me. I kept breathing and breathing and never directed my eyes to the audience. I don’t think anyone in my family knew then or knows to this day how anxious I was.

We find our way through the forest that frightens us. As an adult, I became a teacher and stood in front of many students, some who wanted to learn and some who wanted to curse me out. We keep going, usually.

Today I shopped at IKEA, one of my favorite stores, and it was packed with more people than I have ever seen. Back to College? Already? I managed okay upstairs, but when I go to the lower level where all the lights are, I have to stop myself from running to the checkouts and into the parking lot.

So I guess you could say I have IKEA lights phobia. Or IKEA electricity phobia. But I think there may be something about all that lighting in one place. I remember watching a television show where the occupants of the house were sure there were ghosts, because they felt sick and dizzy every time they went to the basement. The specialists used an electronic device in the basement and it went off the scale near certain spots. They recommended the owners have an electrician check the wiring because some people are bothered by certain electromagnetic fields When the owners had an electrician check the wiring, he rerouted and replaced some of it. End of problem. (I was a bit disappointed no ghosts were found, but I was glad the owners knew what was wrong.)

So, to recap…ha! I began with fear of heights and ended with electricity.

My mind at work.