Fear: A Contagion That Spreads Like Wildfire

Updated on November 13, 2018
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more daily than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, & LGBT advocacy.

With Fear You Need Courage - And It's Not Going To Be Easy


No Easy Answers

It's interesting to me how easily fear can spread. It can spread as fast as a flame - faster, really, given the right circumstances - and will settle into your being like a winter's chill.

Certainly, there are things we should be fearful of, to an extent. That will vary from person to person, but to an extent, fear can keep us out of trouble. Fear of doing something to disappoint our parents or get ourselves in trouble, for instance, is one such thing that can keep us out of trouble when we're younger. None of us want to get "that speech" where our parents chastise us for causing trouble and then they either ground us or tell us they're disappointed or both.

However, fear of the unknown - of the "bad things" that you hopefully don't learn about until you're in your young adulthood or even a little older - can keep you in its grip for days, weeks, or months, if not a lifetime.

I tend to feel it as a heavy weight sitting on my chest and my leg muscles tingling as though I need to go out and run for a few kilometers. It's that weight that has me checking that I've locked up the house properly and closed the garage door a couple of times over. Outside of grief, it's probably one of the worst feelings I think I've ever experienced.

The problem is, fear - like grief - can touch every part of your life, and sometimes, you don't even know it. You might feel more short-tempered, or overly cautious, even hypervigilant. You might eventually feel ill from the stress of it, and you know what? That's OK.

It's all right to feel afraid. It's okay to feel anxious when terrible things happen, or feel that need to lock things up just a little tighter for your own piece of mind. You might feel that way for some time, and it takes time to process that fear and that unfortunately does transform your normal - sometimes for the short term, sometimes for much longer.

But fear is highly contagious, like flame jumping from one tinder-dry log to the next. There are no easy solutions to easing fear once it starts spreading, but there are supports available to work through situations which might have stoked the flames and caused fear to spread.

We can't be afraid to talk about our fears. We can find support in each other as we look to redefine our normal. We may need to find others to talk to, and that's all right too. It seems even though we keep saying that there's got to be more openness when it comes to our mental health - and feeling fear can contribute to that - we still don't necessarily want to acknowledge when we are afraid, as though that somehow makes us weak.

It takes a wealth of courage to acknowledge that fear even exists, let alone take steps to deal with it. The physiological effects of fear definitely wreak havoc with us all, to one extent or another. From the accelerated heartbeat to the tummy that seems to want to keep rolling, from a physical point of view, fear sucks - and sometimes there's a certain fear in acknowledging that you even are afraid.

Remembering that there are people who will support you in those moments where your fear seems insurmountable or even inescapable is so important. These people who remind you there is a life beyond the fear - that they will help you get through whatever it is that is feeding it - will feed your spirit and hopefully fuel your courage when you need it the most. These are the people who will (sometimes literally) hold your hand when you feel like you can't even go another step without breaking down, and who remind you that you are tougher than you can possibly realize.

There are no easy answers, unfortunately; the most important thing you could probably remember is that the courage to face that fear and continue on with life in spite of it is bigger than the fear itself. You might not feel that's the case, but it is.

Hang in there.

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