T Minus Two Type Two Diabetes and Other Passions

12Nov/120

Fear, Part 2: How I Experience It

Since I posted Part 1, I have done extensive research on the topic of fear and anxiety, if you can stretch your definition of "extensive research" to mean "spending ten minutes scanning a couple of web pages". So I still don't know much.

The web pages I looked at classified types of anxiety. However, my cursory reading of these classifications don't suggest a real fit with what I experience. So the classification that follows is my own.

1. The Fear of the Ouch

For reasons that I touched on in this post, my early childhood taught me that life is pretty much hazardous to my physical well-being.  So, for example, I don't like descending stairs though I haven't fallen down stairs in four and a half decades. More broadly, I don't have a lot of what's called physical courage.

2. The Fear of Edges

I don't mind heights per se. But I don't like edges - situations that put me in danger of falling, even when that danger is miniscule. Not only do I not like cliffs or roof edges, I hate crossing bridges over busy roads, and I tend to walk around large steam vents or city sidewalks. Other than the bridge thing, which causes me to need a bus to get to places that are within walking distance, this doesn't really cause me a problem.

3. The Fear of ... Well, I'm Not Quite Sure

This would appear to be what those that know things would call 'generalized anxiety', and I think of it as being a depressive symptom for me. I have periods when I have the sense that something terrible is about to happen although I have no idea what that terrible thing by me. On perhaps two occasions, I have had what may have been panic attacks. In these periods I hate to answer the phone and let postal mail pile up.

Special Case A

I spent the first two decades of adulthood in cities where my living circumstances made it pretty easy to get by without a car. My current city is a little more difficult in that sense. After so many years of driving rarely, it took a while to get comfortable but I came to enjoy driving. But I had three accidents in two years: one clearly my fault, one clearly not my fault, and one somewhere in between. The third came during the onset of a bad depressive episode, and imagining accidents at every intersection rapidly became intolerable. I parked my car in my parking lot and left it there. I finally sold it after two years of not using it.

I have mixed feelings about this episode. The degree of anxiety I developed was clearly irrational, but I was not in fact a good driver and might eventually have had a crash that was very serious. I feel guilty about the anxiety but good about the decision to sell. When I'm asked if I miss my car, I reply "No, but I miss liking my car".

Special Case B

I've never thought of myself as obsessive, but a few months ago I developed this weird conviction that my wallet or keys would fall out of my pocket while I was out and about. I find myself checking on this frequently, especially when crossing a busy street. I have no idea what this is about.

 

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Well, that’s kind of an outline of what I experience, leaving out one category that probably deserves it’s own post. Thanks for hanging in with me.

 

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