The Power of Fear
By Jessie Close
I’m afraid of everything. Fear is what I keep locked inside me and is what I pretend to not have. My personal support system requires that I keep this fear inside of me. I find it sad that many times the fear, the fear inside the mental illness, shows in our eyes; those who observe us find our eyes frightening when in fact it’s us who are afraid.
Some of the things I’m afraid of or have been afraid of:
Walking outside my front door
Going outside when it’s dark
Writing a blog!
Considering that I used to let bags of garbage accumulate by the front door because I was too frightened to face whatever it was outside, I’ve made great strides. I can be afraid but I can also tell fear to leave me alone, most of the time now. The object of my greatest fear was something akin to the sci-fi monster in Predator, one of my favorite movies, (believe it or not!). Having something ‘out there’ was very much a part of my terror before I was treated with anti-psychotic medications.
When I was a little girl in elementary school, I was sick all the time and chalked up more absent days than any other child in my class. My doctor’s name, how could I forget, was Dr. Kitchen. One day, when I was in his clinic for probably a cold, Dr. Kitchen asked my mother to please leave the examining room (this was 1961) and after she left he turned to me. I remember that I was sitting on the examining table, my little legs swinging back and forth, until he began talking to me. He told me that he thought I was faking being sick, that I needed to stop being sick all the time, that there really wasn’t anything wrong with me. I remember my heart sinking, everything sinking actually, into myself; I created a part of myself that day, the part that hides and toughs it out. I don’t think I made myself get sick but I wonder. Mine wasn’t the happiest of childhoods and I treasured those few months when my mother was around every year. When I got sick and she was there she would bring me toast, lathered with cinnamon butter, and read to me and buy me dot-to-dot books. I would snuggle next to her warmth while she read to me and every time we came to the end of a chapter I would say, “no! don’t stop!” and she would comply. In a twisted scenario my mother’s presence taught me the rewards of being sick.
A friend of mine told me that she heard an esteemed gentleman say, “There is no such thing as good fear.” I’m not so sure about that. Now that I’m cognizant of where I am, and what I should be afraid of, (thanks to modern medications) I think fear has kept me safe during those times when I was not functioning in the world of reality.
There is enormous power in fear, almost as much power as love. I like to think that love wins every time but, when psychosis hits, I do think that fear overwhelms love. It’s up to our families or partners to love us and get us help and, in that respect, loves wins.
I don’t get sick like I used to although I was supposed to get a crown from the dentist today and cancelled because of a head cold. Suspicious but I have had the cold for a week.
My mother has passed but memories of her cinnamon toast and reading have stayed with me. I was able to pass those cozy times on to my daughter and now on to my granddaughter. There is nothing about fear that I have passed on; love wins.