It was a cold night in the year 2010 at the peak of my generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. There I was in my ‘man cave’ playing the victim and feeling sorry for the people that cared about me and what I was putting them through. To this day I vividly remember the way I walked up those stairs to the main living room every night alone with tremendous fears of the dark.
I remember keeping the light on in the staircase, and flipping the switch with a long stick that I made once I made it to the top
I also remember always looking back down the staircase as if some presence was watching me the whole time, that gave me the heebie-jeebies every time! The fear or phobia was never about the darkness itself, but the imagined dangers concealed by the darkness.
What I learned through that cycle of panic I went through during those times dealing with my fears of the dark was that when our primary sense of sight is taken away from us, we get into a state of panic.
So the memory of this panic is stored and of course whenever things get dark guess what, the cycle of panic begins… but why? Simply because our sense of hearing becomes heightened, and a small crackling sound automatically comes with a million different questions sent to our protective minds.
Facing Fears Of The Dark In Small Doses
OK, so I know you’ve heard it all before and so have I… if you fear something face it and eventually it will go away. But I want to be a little more specific about what I did to stop my fears of the dark. Step by step I started with:
1) Understanding that having generalized anxiety disorder comes with a big imagination, this reality check becomes hugely important.
2) A systematic approach to facing the fears of the dark starting with watching a funny movie that included many darkness moments in it. Here’s a YouTube video on how imagery and sound can help to alter the way we think about our fears.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of here that’s for sure. Back in the historic cave-dwelling days being afraid of the dark was a good thing and helped people survive potential attacks from numerous types of beasts. There’s nothing to fear… but fear itself and nothing can bring greater relief than to challenge the fear and restructure your idea of what darkness is.