What do you fear? How do you define fear? What does fear do to us? Do *you* fear the reaper…?
My favourite podcast ‘The Mental Illness Happy Hour‘ is hosted by the American comedian and satirist, Paul Gilmartin. He’s battled depression and anxiety for many years and has created a community both via the podcast and online at Mentalpod.com where people can share and communicate their experiences of living with mental illness.
He regularly interviews fellow performers about their journeys through bipolar, clinic depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, PTSD and other related mental health issues and his style mixes honesty with pathos and humour, putting his guests completely at ease. I can’t recommend this podcast highly enough for anyone living with mental illness or those with an interest in the field of mental health.
One of the regular segments on the podcast is a ‘fear off’, followed by a ‘love off’ where he and his guest prepare a list of their fears and loves, then take turns reading them out to each other.
The idea behind this is to show people that fears can be lessened and even conquered by verbalising them. It also proves just how common some fears are and works to show people that no-one is ever alone in their struggle, no matter how difficult it seems.
Borrowing the idea for this week’s blog post (thanks, Paul!), I’d like to share my fear list with you, followed by my loves list.
I’m scared of being seriously injured in a car accident. When I’m driving I picture cars around me slamming into my car from the moment I start my engine until I’m safely home again.
I’m scared that if I don’t check my food before each mouthful that there will be hair in it.
I fear that I won’t be able to find a house should we have to move next year.
I’m frightened that if I don’t wash my hands with soap three times after I’ve been to the bathroom that I’ll become ill from bacteria and have to go to hospital.
I worry about friends becoming fed up with my stupid mental health issues and dumping me.
I’m scared that if I go out by myself I’ll have a panic attack and not be able to make my way home.
I fear never overcoming my eating disorder and dying of a heart attack in the coming months.
I’m scared of making or answering phone calls.
I’m scared that when I go to bed that a spark from the power point next to my bed will set my sheets alight and I’ll burn to death in my sleep.
I fear that a crowd of people will turn into an angry mob and start hitting me and I won’t be able to defend myself or get away.
I’m scared that if I have a bath with bubbles that when I sink into it there will be a snake under the water. I also won’t go in the ocean because I’m scared of sea snakes.
I fear that I’ll never know love or intimacy ever again.
I’m frightened that my physical and mental health will continue to decline and I’ll end up unable to care for myself when I’m older.
I’m scared that security in a shop will mistake my anxiety for suspicious behaviour and confront me.
I believe that not having objects or computer files in order will cause an exponential growth confusion and disruption, making it impossible to ever return life to organised normality.
I’m scared that I’ll never achieve or be able to meet the standards I set for myself.
I’m scared of having a stroke aged 40 and having to live the rest of my life partially paralysed or worse unable to communicate freely.
I fear that my depression is permanent as I’ve now lived more years with it than without it.
I’m scared that I’ll make plans with people but they’ll change those plans when I get there, I’ll have a panic attack and be humiliated.
I fear losing my eyesight or feet to poor diabetes management.
I love giving someone a giant, squishy bear hug.
I love waking up on a winter morning and sticking my feet out of the bed to feel the chill, then snuggling down again in the covers.
I love the yell that Goofy does when he falls off a cliff .
I love it when people surprise themselves with a laugh – when a giant “HA!!” bursts out of them that’s so loud they cover their mouths instantly and look embarrassed. They’re the best laughs ever.
I love listening to a song that reminds me of a time in my life and being instantly transported back there for a few minutes.
I love it when cats lean in and gently bump their forehead against yours.
I love going to the movies by myself during the week when nobody else is there.
I love my regular catch ups with my friends that make me feel safe and loved. I also love that they don’t mind my weird quirk of it needing to be the same each week.
I love the sound of someone rifling though a pencil case filled with pencils.
I love eating something with just enough chilli to make you sweat but doesn’t burn your mouth.
I love stumbling upon an old black and white film you’d never consider watching on late night TV and discovering a classic.
I love finding a copy of a song you’ve spent years looking for and playing it over and over until you’ve memorised every note.
I love it when you are able to clean something old or really dirty and restore it back to its original state.
I love going clothes shopping on AFL Grand Final Day because I’m usually the only person there.
I love being in bed when it rains, especially during a thunderstorm.
I love being home alone with music playing and doing little dances while I do the dishes or clean something.
I love discovering an older TV series I haven’t watched and burning through every episode in a week. (Just one more! Okay, now one more!)
I love the amazing people in my life.