It’s easy to discuss fear when it’s regarding spiders, heights,small spaces etc. but it isn’t always as easy when it comes down to affairs of the heart and mind. If I were to discuss every fear I had, it would exceed the word limit and frankly either be really boring or totally depressing. I have two main fears after the typical phobia’s; not being able to be a parent/being a parent and the invalidity of my thoughts and feelings. Now I’ll start with this latter one because it makes me sound very self obsessed and I want to clarify what I mean.
Invalidity is unfortunately a reality for many people that suffer from mental health issues. For me, anxiety not only causes the feelings of being invalid but allows other people to excuse or ignore my feelings. It is horrific to constantly be at war with your own mind and constantly self access whether you’re overreacting or if it’s justified. However when someone you trust, someone who cares for you, regularly asks “but is that because of your anxiety? Are you sure it’s not just your brain playing tricks on you? You’re thinking yourself into a bad mood”; it is telling that person that their thoughts, feelings and reactions are invalid. Now, I want to clarify that the above examples are not one specific person, but is in fact multiple people I have encountered including medical professionals. This brings me nicely to my main point. I dread going to the doctors out of fear of my own illnesses/ problems being invalidated by one 10 minute conversation. I fear telling someone they’ve hurt my feelings or pissed me off in fear of being told I’m over-reacting or “it’s OK she suffers from anxiety” I am terrified of asking for help because of that label applied to me and people not understanding. I fear my own anxiety because at times it takes away everything I am and replaces me with this giant ball of fear and fuzzy noises, blurred vision and a whirlpool of emotions but in the eyes of some, that’s not real. They aren’t real and I’m just seeking attention, so I’ve learnt to fear my own fear which in turn causes more of the above.
That, probably on a psychological front probably contributes to my fear of never being a parent and being a parent. To cut a very awkward and over personalized story short, my dad left when I was 4/5 and we’ve never had much of a relationship. There are a lot of bottled up and ignored emotions ranging all the way from love to full blow rage. This scenario has lent itself to two very very real fears; never being able to be a parent and/or being as “good” a parent as my father. I would never want a child to feel as invalid or irrelevant as my father made me feel, so from that point of view the thought of being a parent scares me. However in the reverse of that. The thought of never being able to bear my own child terrifies me as well. I’d love to be a mum and show dad parenting done right, but when a nurse once told me I may have difficulties conceiving and then raising a child, (because my anxiety may affect my health), my world shattered. I don’t want kids, at 24 I don’t feel like I can look after myself let alone a child as well but never being able to have one makes me incredibly sad and frankly terrified that I’ve failed as a human being – so it once again comes back to that fear of being invalid again.
So rather than continuing my rambling I want to finish with a couple of quotes that I found and appreciated.
How often in your life have you been criticized for having the feelings you do? Did this make you feel invalidated? How often do you simply stuff your feelings and agree with others, saying yes, when you really mean no – Catherine Cardinal
Do not deny another’s perception. Do not argue with his experience. Do not disown his feelings. Specifically do not try to convince him that what he sees or hears or feels or senses is not so, – Haim Ginott
And finally most importantly:
It’s a gift and a curse. You get the pain much worse than anybody else, but you see sunrise much more beautiful than anybody else! – Spike Milligan.