Tag: fear

The Fear

The Fear is a phrase I’ve noticed myself using a lot in the last year or two- “this is giving me the fear,”; “I have the fear,” etc.

I first heard the phrase as the title of Lily Allen’s song “The Fear”. In it, she describes the “shallow girl” fantasy- to be thin, rich and successful. But that’s not what I mean when I say I have The Fear.

And I don’t mean I’m hungover either.

To me, The Fear is this shapeless, black, bubbling mass of anxiety. Something that doesn’t have rhyme or reason, but is a sense, that is almost instinctual. I can feel it building and wrapping itself around me, but I don’t know why. I just know that it is there. It’s not even an emotion I feel, it is like an actual physical presence.

The Fear is that feeling when you go out walking at night, and you pass a dark alley, or the hole in the graffiti wall, and you have this overwhelming sense that something is there. And you walk a little faster, but all the way back home you can’t shake the feeling. I know that is fight or flight, but I’m sure it is something more.

I don’t just get The Fear when I walk past an alley, or the hole in the graffiti wall- I get it when people say certain things, or I see something on tv, or even when the weather does a specific thing. My mind and body decides that it is not safe, that there is an evil presence, and the evil presence is The Fear.

Erin

Falling

 

I can feel myself falling back into the worlds in my head.

I didn’t even realise it was happening, though I never do.

It is warm and comforting, but I quickly discover I am trapped, and I cannot navigate my way out. Imaginary worlds are becoming more real than the real world again. They are certainly more desirable. It is not just my mind but my body too, I can feel it crying out to be a part of these worlds.

When I realise I am not in those worlds, it is soul destroying. It crushes me. It feels as though that is where I belong, not here. Why do I exist here? Of all the parallel worlds there are, why am I in this one?

The realisation that life continues beyond this moment is currently terrifying me as well. I will finish university, I will spend time job searching, I will end up with a job eventually, I will marry, I will have children, I will get some illness and die. People are always saying “life is short”, but no it’s not. It’s fucking long. Birth to death is an eternity, because it is the only time we will ever know. Time comes before an after us, but the only time that actually exists is the time we are in.

Before my birth, time did not exist to me. After I die, time will not exist. So, to me, the universe will only exist for maybe another 60 years. And then I’ll be dead and time will stop.

The time I’ve lived up till now is huge. I have lived for 20 years, or 241 months, or 1052 weeks, or 7362 days, or 176688 hours, or 10601280 minutes, or 636076800 seconds. I could go on. And each second has no end. You can cut it up into smaller and smaller pieces, but you can always cut it that little bit smaller. In the time it takes me to write this sentence there will have been about 15 mini infinities.

I feel like I have lived forever. Like I said, I kind of have. My forever is only as long as I am conscious/aware. So much has happened, and so much has already been erased from my memory, never to return. People tell me about things that occurred, and I cannot remember.

If I can’t even remember my own history, then I don’t even know myself.

Erin

Dreaming

Last night I had a dream, that has stuck with me throughout the day. I haven’t been able to get it off my mind. It wasn’t that it was extremely frightening or distressing, but it has stuck with me.

In it, I had started university, and discovered my roommate was Emma Roberts, but as she was pre-Wild Child (probably around about her Unfabulous years).

In the canteen, we befriended 3 guys- a very tall, large, curly haired guy who constantly wore sunglasses. I don’t remember his actual name, but in the dream I nicknamed him Hagrid. There was a black boy, who had hair that sort of held itself up in a cylindrical shape. I can’t remember his name, but from here on we’ll refer to him as Jim. Then there was the emo looking boy, who was kind of silly and basically my best friend along with Emma Roberts. Can’t remember his name either, but we’ll call him Matt.

There was the usual rigmarole of university life, which went on for a while. It was basically the development of our friendship. Then, we met again in the canteen, the 5 of us, to plan a trip. We were going to go to some hot place, with desert, for a few days.

Myself and the boys went, but Emma got sick and couldn’t go. She wasn’t happy, and covered our room in posters.

We rode horses through the desert, but we got lost, and we had very little water. It was night by that point, so we decided to make camp and move on in the morning.

In the morning, the horses were gone. Hagrid carried Jim for a while, and from his position in Hagrid’s arms, Jim spotted a yurt in the distance. We went to it, and found it was kitted out with all that we needed but water. We decided to each take a compass, and head out in search of water. We searched for hours, and eventually I found myself crossing what appeared to be Matt’s path. He had entered into a cave, and a butterfly and a dragonfly flew down onto my shoulders. A spider was spinning a web. I walked deeper into the cave, and it was all bioluminescent, with beautiful fish residing in pools. It was quite cold. I began to resurface, the cave was in fact a tunnel, and at the other entrance I found Matt. He was sitting  against the rock, and he had cut his wrist open. I felt sick to my stomach, and asked him what he was doing. He wasn’t trying to kill himself, he told me, he just wanted to feel it. I ripped my top and tied it tight like as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.

He was so weak from exhaustion and blood loss, that I had to carry him in my arms back to the yurt. Hagrid and Jim were back, and when they saw him Jim immediately ran to get a doctor, and Hagrid just went outside and left us on our own.

I placed Matt in the bed, and he smiled at me as if I was the most important thing in the world. It was a very powerful look he gave me. In that moment I wanted to protect him and keep him safe more than anything else. It became my only goal. But no matter what I did, I couldn’t fix the wound on his arm. I just wanted to make it all okay.

And then my alarm went off.

It wasn’t the fear of Matt dying that stuck with me today, or the horror at him so violently injuring himself. It was the look he gave me, of complete trust and love, and my overwhelming need to protect him.

I can be quite a maternal/protective person, but rarely have I felt it so strongly as I did in that dream. It was like nothing else in the world mattered, I just had to keep him safe. It is frightening, the lengths that I feel like I could’ve gone to to make sure he was okay.

Erin

Volatile

Volatile

Today, I realised something, that I hadn’t really noticed in the past.

My flatmate (M) came into the kitchen, while my other flatmate (H) and I were just hanging out. He came in to tell us to make sure we left the extractor fan on in the bathroom till the walls were completely dry, and that someone had turned it off just there. I told him it was me, because it’d be on for ages and I thought it needed to be switched off.

He didn’t insult me. He didn’t turn it into an argument. He wasn’t nasty in any way. He simply said, “Okay, well you need to leave the extractor on till the walls are dry,”.

In my head, it felt like a personal attack. I immediately felt as though I needed to defend myself. I started to rise to those feelings, and at the same time could feel stress and anxiety and, well, anger, bubbling up inside me. It made no sense. I had no reason to be angry, which just made me feel more stressed.

Thankfully, at that moment my Mum phoned, and I made a hasty exit.

But later on, I couldn’t help wondering what would’ve happened. Would I have given way to the anger and go on the defensive? Would I have changed the subject? Or would i have accepted what he said on moved on.

And it became apparent to me, that the third option would not have happened. And in most situations it doesn’t. When people say something to me that maybe I don’t agree with, like in the past when H told me that I should’ve left the kitchen when I had an hour long phone conversation with my Mum so that her and boyfriend could make and eat their dinner, I seem to take it as a personal attack. I can’t accept it, or brush it off, or ignore it- I feel this need to defend myself, or change the subject as quickly as possible, so that the situation de-escalates. Even though in reality, it hasn’t escalated at all, and someone has just made a totally normal comment or request.

It could be that is because of my social anxiety disorder (SAD). My SAD is essentially caused by a deep and intense fear of rejection and abandonment from friends, to the point where I find it impossible to talk to many people, because I fear their rejection so enormously.

But I worry it’s something else, something more. The more I consider these things, the more it begins to seem as though something else is going on. I need to know.

Erin

An Intense Fear of Abandonment

All relationships are conditional to some degree. It’s undeniable.

Relationships (and I don’t just mean love/sex ones, I mean friendships, family etc.) all hinge on something that can switch it from good to bad.

Perhaps the thing it hinges on is whether your best mate shags your ex, or if you forget to do something for someone, or if you become a sex worker.

What makes me uncomfortable and kind of pissed, is when someone I considered a close friend let our friendship hinge on my mental ill health.

I know that sometimes mental health problems can end friendships, and they can certainly strain them.

I have an anxiety disorder (it was more specifically social but I’ve recovered from that a bit, only for it to become more of a general anxiety disorder). I’ve also suffered from depression in the past.

My social anxiety disorder (SAD) was essentially centred around social rejection. I am/was so intensely afraid of abandonment and rejection that it made it very difficult for me to form friendships because I lack an ability to trust people. I mean, to an extent I can, but trusting people is extremely hard for me. I don’t really know why. Things happened in the past that intensified it, but did not cause it- I cannot pinpoint a time when this inability to trust began.

Anyways, because I have such difficulty forming friendships, and I mean proper ones, not the kind where you just say hi in the street. At present, I would say I have maybe 3 close friends. That sounds pretty normal, but then apart from that I don’t really have a huge number of friends. I have people I am nice to and who are nice back, though really it doesn’t matter to me whether they’re in my life or not. I can cope.

So you can probably imagine what a massive effect it has on me when one of the very small group of people I actually feel comfortable with decides that being friends with me is too much effort.

To be fair, last autumn/winter (from about October-December, so maybe 10 weeks total), I had an extraordinarily hard time with my mental health. I’d become convinced I was evil and dangerous, and I was in a constant state of fear of the world and myself. I was terrified that I was going to harm someone or myself. Reality and the world in my head blurred a little, and things I would not normally believe, things that remained strictly in my daydreams, became darker and had more power over me. It was a very scary time. This friend, who at the time I considered my best friend (although I don’t know if that’s really something you have at 19 but whatever) at first tried to look out for me, but, as they’d recently gotten into a new relationship, became increasingly unavailable.

And then my friend committed suicide, and everything exploded. I wasn’t able to really eat or sleep for a good 2 weeks, I was having anxiety attacks a few times daily and a few panic attacks a week. I dissociated almost constantly- I knew I wasn’t real, that I was part of some mighty creature’s game, or part of a book. I wasn’t able to see my boyfriend much either, who’d normally be there for me, as the dead boy’s closest friends at home were even worse than I was.

I felt completely alone. I’d been convinced my friend would abandon me, and when I needed him most, they did. When I asked them if they would mind hanging out and watching a happy film with me or something, two nights after the boy died, they told me that they’d rather leave me to it and hang out with their partner.

This was the first time in my life that I’d actually been able to be open about my grief. In the past, I have put up a steely facade, and tried to be a crutch for the people I’d decided deserved to grieve more than me (which was everyone), and this time, because I was learning to accept my emotions more, I actually let myself feel it. I didn’t really know how to deal with it, but I knew I needed the friends I trusted and cared for the most to help support me. And although the others did as best they could, my closest friend was just so… Distant. They seemed to find it so easy to leave me on my own to cope with a huge trauma, so they could go and watch a film in bed with their partner.

When I came back to myself a bit, as in being able to sleep a bit more and eat a bit better, I was furious. This person had always said to me we’d always be friends, they’d always be there for me, and they hadn’t been. I’d fallen off the cliff completely, and there were no footholds or handholds to climb back up. It felt like I had no support system.

And then the fighting began. Rather than actually talking to them, I’d crush it down inside, primarily because I thought if I told them how I was actually feeling they’d move further from me, abandon me more. It felt like if I was anymore alone I was going to die. That’s not an exaggeration, my mental health was in such a state that I thought I was going to die from it. Not kill myself- just shut down completely.

But that amount of anger can’t be crushed for long. Soon it began to explode out, at the smallest things. Eventually, it became directed towards their partner, who, in reality, had done nothing wrong, and had actively encouraged my friend to spend time with me and be with me through that really horrible period.

As I had done in the past during times of such extreme anger, I cut the partner off completely. I removed them from all my social media, and, as best as I could, avoided them. I behaved standoffishly when they were about, keeping my sentences to monosyllables, keeping my door locked so they knew I didn’t want them near me.

As I was falling apart inside, my shields, which I had so recently learned to let down, went right back up. I still talked to most of my friends, but emotionally I was back to where I was from about 2010-2015. I was cold and numb.

My severing of ties caused more tension in the friendship, but things calmed down because I felt that by doing that I had removed anger.

The Christmas holidays came, and we were all apart for 4 weeks. I went home and recuperated (and also a wisdom tooth came in which was not pleasant, didn’t enjoy Christmas dinner as much because my whole face hurt) and when I came back my mental state, though it wasn’t perfect, had greatly improved. I decided to keep my distance a bit, because, although most of what I did was reaction and response, rather than attacking, I had, at times, been unfair.

I apologised to my friend, and their partner, and did my best to make amends.

And was met with a wall. I tried to talk to them about stuff, accepting that we’d both been dicks, and instead I was ripped to shreds. They didn’t understand how much they had hurt me, and instead tore into me. I apologised over and over, and meant it each and every time, for the stuff I’d done and said, but not once could they bring themselves to say sorry, or accept that anyone but me had done anything wrong.

In the end, I got so tired of feeling like I was the only one who had to make amends, I started distancing myself from them. They had become so prone to lashing out at me that I felt as though I couldn’t say or do anything, literally anything, around them without it being wrong. The steps I’d made in improving my mental state were quickly reversing. I once again was starting to feel as though I was a great evil.

I had my other close friend, but because she is so extraverted, and so sociable, I am used to her not being as available. I couldn’t see my boyfriend as much as I’d have liked either.

It was at this point I did something I thought I never would: I reconnected with my best friend from high school, who I’d battled with over something petty (that’d gotten blown out of proportion by other people sticking their oars in) and hadn’t spoken to in 2 years.

I once again had support, and it was beginning to feel more like I had people I could turn to. I was sad because this person had faded out of my life mostly, like Homer in the hedge (google it), but I was mostly just glad that I felt like I had true friends again.

The only issue was that I was supposed to be living with that person next uni year. We hadn’t said much beyond “hi” for weeks. I didn’t want them in my life at all anymore, because it had become so detrimental to my mental health. I had grown stronger again, and though I was terrified of fighting again, I knew I couldn’t sign the lease for the new flat with the way things were. Because the way they’d been making me feel… I didn’t want to have to deal with that for another year. I’d rather they just got out and stayed out.

My other flatmate, my extraverted friend, had become more of a confidante in this time, and she encouraged me to talk to them. And then eventually half forced me into it, because I was beating about the bush.

I told them that we needed to talk asap. I told them that if they didn’t talk to me then I would not be living with them next year. So they agreed.

I was so distressed about it that at times in the conversation I had to tell them to stop talking because I physically felt like I was about to throw up. When they came into my room to talk, I was shaking like a leaf, felt feverish and dizzy. It was like the beginnings of a panic attack. It took all my strength of will to stop it becoming a full blown panic attack.

I kept calm though. When they started to raise their voice I very carefully asked them to keep it a bit more relaxed. I sat and took it as they unreservedly lay into me (although it was mostly at very calm tones, but it was still aggressive). I tried my best to respond in the calmest manner I could.

I did cry.

I cried because I was distressed. I cried because it felt like this was the final chance to make things better. I cried because I felt like if I said anything at all then they’d walk out of my life forever. I cried because of the things they were saying.

By the end of it though… Things weren’t good, but they were a little better. They hugged me. Which was nice.

Now though, I don’t feel as though I can ever truly trust them again. My extravert flatmate had a nice way of putting it- “there are a few people in our lives that we know, if we were taken in by the police, and phoned them, that they would do anything to help. We both thought he was one of those people, but maybe that’s not so” (she also felt as though he could not be relied on as much anymore). Maybe, superficial friends is all we can ever be. I don’t think I can ever let them know what’s really going on my head, or trust them to be there for me when I need them, because I know it will happen again. They are talking to me and acting as though everything is fine, but it’s not. And I just don’t know how we can ever get close to returning to how we used to be.

I get that when people get into horrendous mental states it can be hard at times to support them. But it’s not okay to just walk away from them at the first sign of trouble, which is exactly what happened. I know that I did become pretty awful. The primary reason for that, though, was because I felt alone, and by avoiding me and abandoning me further, I ended up feeling completely terrified and isolated.

When people say that your mental health is your responsibility, it really pisses me off. It’s simply not true. It is your responsibility to seek help, but then it also becomes the responsibility of the healthcare professionals looking after you. Friends and family are responsible for, essentially, loving and supporting you. Not being there to fix you and pick up all your pieces, but to stand by you and help you to be strong, till you can be strong on your own again.

It is extremely difficult to make it through serious mental issues alone. Trust me, I’ve tried. You need a support system there for you, so when things are at their hardest, you have someone there give you a helping hand. Not do it all for you, but just help.

This is honestly all how I feel and how I view the events that occurred. Obviously more stuff happened inside my head, that I would prefer not to discuss at the moment, because I still struggle to think about it. Maybe at some point, I’ll feel better about talking about it, but right now the wounds are still raw.

Erin

I Need to Speak

There are many things I need to say, but I can’t. I am ready to say them, but I can’t make the words come out of my mouth. I need to say the things and have them validated.

I can’t say them on here, in case someone from home sees them.

I can’t say them to my counsellor, in case she tells me they’re not real, because they are. I know she wouldn’t, but I’m scared she will.

Most of all I have so much I have to tell my Mum. I had so much difficulty talking to her about my mental health issues in the past, things that’ve plagued me for years, and was only just able to start telling her last year. I don’t know how to tell her these things. I know I need to, but I’m afraid they’ll hurt her, and I’m afraid that telling her will hurt me. I can talk freely to my friends about them, and it doesn’t affect me, but it wouldn’t be the same with my Mum.

I feel like I am trying to swim through treacle at the moment, by not approaching these issues properly I am stopping myself from moving forwards. But how can I approach them when I have this absolute fear that I will be told they’re not there, when I know they are.

It is impossible.

Erin

Numb Arm and Samara

THIS IS AN OLD POST THAT I FORGOT TO PUBLISH BUT WILL SHARE ANYWAY

I’m just awake (I nodded off again after my alarm) and also post dream. So I will try to write it as quick as possible.

I woke at about 10:20, and my arm was completely numb. I bit it very hard to check and felt nothing. It was by my head so it kept slapping me and I had to carry it when I rolled over because it wasn’t moving. In my half awake state I got really scared it had fallen off or something.

Sensation returned to my arm, and I nodded off again, into a dream. In my dream, I was at a LIP rehearsal, but Shakespeare had written Treasure Island so it was all a bit confused. Anyways, something went wrong and the director (who was a girl now) told us to just stop and go home. I did, and my friend phoned. She told me to watch the trailer for the new Ring movie, so I did that.

But horror movies have a way of worming themselves into my head. I know it’s nonsense, but my brain doesn’t seem to, and I often get more frightened afterwards rather than while watching. To be fair, most films stay with me beyond the ending, but horror movies really get stuck in there. And it doesn’t take a lot either; reading a bit of the plot or watching the trailer can get them stuck there, and make me behave oddly.

Well that’s exactly what happened. I thought could see Samara in my room (to be honest I’m a little worried about my wardrobe at the moment!) and kept my eyes tight closed so I wouldn’t see her. I still saw her eyes behind my own but at least she couldn’t hurt me. I just had to keep my eyes shut.

With my eyes closed, I left my room and went to flatmate’s door across the hall. I knocked, and she very quietly opened the door, but I didn’t hear and kept knocking. She asked me what was wrong, and I told her Samara was after me, so she gave me a hug and took me into her room. Sometime during this I had become an 8 year old little boy. With her, I was able to open my eyes again and we played cards, and she said I could sleep in her bed, so I did. But Samara was in my dreams and told me I couldn’t avoid her forever, so when I woke, my eyes remained tight shut.

The problem is, was I was starting to realise it was a dream, and that I could wake up. But because in the dream I had to keep my eyes closed, I couldn’t open them in reality. I hid in my flatmate’s bed for days, terrified to open my eyes, until suddenly I did. I saw Samara’s flash, but then my eyes creaked open on the real world. Where Samara is only a character in a film, and closing your eyes protects you from nothing.

Erin