Fear: a spectrum of experiences

I look at fear as a spectrum with many different varieties, intensities and expressions. Everybody has experiences with fear. Whether it is the fear of a monster underneath our bed as we are children, anxiety for having to perform at work, or worries about our children’s well-being.

Some of us experience a wider range of the fear spectrum at some point during our lives. Fearful feelings can become dominant and chronic, and can interfere with our day-to-day functioning, general well-being and health.

When I was diagnosed with anxiety/panic disorder at the age of 19, my experience of fear had expanded beyond the common definitions of fear.

I experienced regular panic attacks: sudden flashes of extreme fear. This fear was accompanied by heart palpitations, cold sweat, superficial breathing patterns, body tension, and most scary: uncontrollable, unnerving images in my mind and a sensation of alienation from the world and people around me.

The panic attacks were so overwhelming that I feared their unpredictable arrival. A downward spiral of fear had been created. My days were filled with anxiety, tension, crying fits and depressed feelings.

I had never heard of anxiety disorder or panic attacks before. And I never imagined this kind of fear even existed. As I had difficulty understanding my own experiences, I assumed other people would not understand my experiences either.

I felt very lonely and disconnected.

This was enhanced by the tendency of society to not talk much about the struggles of life. Success is being shared, difficulties are often kept silent about. Whether it was a discomfort with the depth of my emotions, or an incapability to talk about them; rarely anyone asked me about the details of my fearful experiences.

I did not easily tell about my experiences either, for fear of being judged. I feared others would see me as weak.

However, when I started opening up to people; relatives, friends, and even strangers, I learned there are many others who have had struggles similar to mine.

To me, connecting to people through open-heart communication about our deepest emotions is one of the most valuable things in life. It is this value that inspired me to write this blog. To create more openness, understanding and support between each other.

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