When I was a little girl I spent a great deal of time in a panic. Mostly the panic was about my death. I was afraid that I would die. There didn’t seem to be any logic to the theory that I should die. I just worried about it constantly until it became routine to obsess about it. My near death experiences would keep me in a space that separated me from everyone else. There wasn’t anyone that I felt I could tell about this feeling. I would tell my parents that I was afraid that I was going to die and they would reinforce that fact.
I really wanted to share what that place is like. What it is like to be so afraid that nothing else in the world is going on. The anxiety would usually begin with me noticing a change in my skin. I would find a new freckle or mole and off I would go to my panic room. I would spend days obsessing about it. How it would turn into cancer or something else that would end my life. I just knew that this little mark on my body would have all of my attention. I became known to many in my family as “the nun” because I would dress from head to toe covering as much of my skin as I could. I would wear long sleeves, pants and a high collar. My face and hands were all that I could bare.
As I got older the panic was still with me, probably even more so because I was armed with so much more information about disease. I remember on one occasion when I was breaking out of my shell a bit, and I was getting more comfortable with showing skin that I decided to go to the beach with my sister and the kids. I drove all the way to Tampa to find that my sister had invited a friend of hers. Her friend was married to a Dermatologist. I went straight into my panic. I told my sister that I couldn’t go because she had invited someone who could look at my skin. Even though my sister tried to explain that her friend was only married to a Dermatologist, I kept insisting that I was sure her husband told her things about his work, and if she saw something on my skin she could probably tell that it was bad. So I didn’t go to the beach that day. I didn’t go for many days. I had to ride this out for a while.
Nothing seemed to make me feel better about it ever. If everyone around me got sick, and I didn’t, then I suspected that something had to be wrong with me. I should be getting sick like everyone else. What is wrong? I was constantly asking about myself.If I happened to get sick, well, then I knew I would die of a cold.
I spent way too much of my life in this room. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else when I was in there. I couldn’t watch any movies that dealt with illness because I would be forced to that room and the only thing that I knew about treating this condition was to stay away from things that stimulated the panic. Like a real panic room, I sat separated from everyone in the house. No one knew that I was there, except for me.
Things are different today; I’ve since then had quite a bit of therapy regarding this ailment. It turns out that I was afraid of me. I didn’t want the world to see me, so I made myself invisible by slipping into this room. I didn’t want the world to see just how flawed I was. It wasn’t for the reasons that you may think. You see if the world saw me, they would comment on what they saw and then if I heard it, it would become true. As long as no one said a thing, I would be fine. I spent a couple of decades of my life trying to escape it, only to find I was a hostage to it all along.
April 10, 2012 at 11:27 pm
The mind is such a powerful thing, and I know this all too well. I grew up fearless and something happened to me in my late teens and I became very fearful. I am currently working on this and I know I will get through it just like you have.