Archives for Astraphobia
It's like any normal Sunday evening at home, really. The clothes dryer is humming hypnotically. My husband is playing a video game and occasionally shouting stuff like "Get the sniper!" and "He's shooting an orb!" into the headset that he uses to talk to other players. My pet parrot is all fluffed up and happily beak-crunching beneath his electric heating lamp. And I'm putzing around on the internet, as usual, oscillating between Twitter and Facebook. But I'll admit it: I've got a little twinge of nervousness in my gut. After all, if Hurricane Sandy hits Central Pennsylvania hard, then I'm sure tomorrow evening in my apartment will look quite different from tonight. No internet. No heating lamp. No video games. No appliances.
(Missed the first half of this post? Check it out here.) I don't know why the sound of rain was (and to an extent, is) so painful and jarring to me -- I mean, to others, it's pleasurable. It's soothing. To me, I suppose it represents just another fake danger that us panickers so commonly concoct: the danger of eliminating access to the only truly "safe" place for me at my office -- the back patio. If I panicked at work in the rain, where would I go? I'd get drenched on the patio. And if I tried to escape to my car, I'd get drenched on the way there and transform into a miserable and soggy heap of humidity. And of course, if my car was warm and humid, I surely couldn't open the windows in the rain to cool off. So, the car wasn't an option. No patio; no car. What was left? Nothing, I concluded. There wasn't a single place I could go during a rainstorm and feel safe. There wasn't a single place in that damn office where I could allow my panicky feelings to de-escalate. I couldn't escape to a safe place, I felt. And of course, just knowing that I didn't have a safe place available made the panic strike more harshly. It went something like this: Sound of rain. Fear of not having a safe place just in case I were to panic. Rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, dizziness, shaking. Panic.
As I write this, a thunderstorm is rolling in. Through the window to the left of my desk, I can see that my usually bright green backyard has taken on a sunken gray hue to match the dark clouds above. If I were still 9 years old, this is where I'd grab a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book and start reading. Or, if I was feeling creative that day, maybe I'd grab some paper and markers and draw each of the lightning strikes I saw. (I actually did this on a consistent basis for awhile and then compiled each drawing into a book called "LIGHTNING WATCH!" with a construction-paper cover. Yep. I wore [and still wear] my "nerd" hat proudly, thank-you-very-much.) But I'm nearly two decades older now and I can no longer remember why on earth I thought adding fear (Scary Stories) to fear (thunderstorm) was a good idea. I suppose I was a high sensation seeker...and "was" is certainly the operative word here.
The sky was gray and I heard thunder in the distance. It wasn't even raining yet during my head-throbbing walk from my car to the front door. I had left work early with a migraine. I walked into my apartment and hurriedly got ready for my date with the dark bedroom: meds, a glass of water, and an ice pack. It was 3:00 pm. The other week, I finally bought some light-blocking curtains for the bedroom. ("Helps reduce stress and improve sleep!" boasted the plastic package.) Glad to finally have a dark room to retreat to, I drew the curtains shut. Save the light of the alarm clock, I was in near complete darkness. Ahhhh. Perfect. For about five seconds or so.