NOTHING SCARES ME ANYMORE (apart from really stupid shit)

For somebody who feels as much as I do (I cried at a mini bottle of Dove shampoo in boots last week), I lack a very necessary and natural human emotion in certain situations. Fear. It’s an element of my personality that confuses my nearest and dearest. It’s almost as though people are so used to me being scared of stupid things like dust and flies that they expect me to be scared of everything. The reality is that if there is anything I should be scared of, or anything that it’s human instinct to be scared of – I don’t feel a darned thing. I reckon it (mostly) comes down to OCD.

Before I explain some of my fears and should-be fears in more detail, I’m just gonna list some things I’m not afraid of, and some things that strike terror within my core. This is simply a few examples just to outline quite clearly how buggered my fear radar is.

Things I don’t fear:

  • Bungee jumps 
  • Skydiving
  • Romantic rejection
  • Social embarrassment  

Things that inject fear into my soul:

  • Theoretical germs that never actually harm me
  • Vomit
  • Theoretical situations which never actually happen
  • Theoretical parasites which I’ve never had 
  • The soles of shoes
  • Mud (the header image on my blog can be problematic)
  • Magazine pages
  • Door handles 

This is all a bit skewif right?! Why do I fear completely illogical and seemly insignificant stimuli, yet I have no sense of ‘I need to survive’ fear, or ‘I’m an awkward human being’ fear? Partly, I think it came part and parcel with grieving my sister. Losing loved ones and coming out of the other side stronger can have a way of making you feel more capable when handling fear. But the lack of instinctive fear? I’m pretty sure that’s OCD. I’ve realised in the last year that the only things I really fear are things that OCD tells me to. OCD has conditioned my brain to be wary of the wrong things. I can only imagine that there’s only so much ‘fear space’ in my brain, and the OCD fears are prioritised (because OCD is an attention-seeking little arse). 

When my physical health permits (my body isn’t very capable of engaging with normal life most of the time – but that’s another story) I really enjoy doing things that I should supposedly be afraid of. I’ve flung myself off of mountaintops and cliffs a number of times and felt absolutely no nerves whatsoever. A couple of weeks ago, I did the UK’s tallest bungee jump with my sister and I didn’t feel the way that most normal people would. I didn’t feel nervous beforehand, and when I was faced with jumping off of a ledge and free-falling 400 feet, I didn’t feel scared and I didn’t hesitate. I just felt pure happiness. 

In terms of human nature, the vast majority of human beings have an inbuilt need to survive. We’re built to exist and thrive. APPARENTLY – and I don’t wanna present inaccurate facts here but fuckit – a human finger would be easy work for a set of human gnashers to bite off (as easy as biting a carrot), but it’s in our instinct to stop before we cause harm to ourselves. It’s the basis of life on planet earth, is it not? Biologically speaking, the main goal of any species is to survive and to reproduce so that our species can continue. It’s what maintains the equilibrium. The human body even has the reflex arc – a swift reaction from the nervous system to harmful stimuli such as heat and pain which bypasses the brain. We’ve literally evolved to protect ourselves.

Self-protection and survival are also common instincts in the animal kingdom. Some species are known to hurt themselves, but it’s usually done by accident, or with a view to protect the rest of the species. For example the pea aphid literally EXPLODES when it feels threatened by another species, in order to cause potential injury to the threat and protect other aphids ( and v.cute). There’s also that mysterious occasion when 28 cows threw themselves off a cliff over a space of 72 hours in the Swiss Alps (I didn’t fact-check this one either, I just shoved it amongst the rest of this post – ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME OKAY). This is an absolute mystery, and it’s extremely interesting because it goes against the ‘rules’ of living things within the animal kingdom. 

In the human kingdom (Is that a thing? Do people say that?) there are also occurrences of self-harm and suicide. These instances are usually driven by poor mental health. Some people want to feel adrenaline in their bloodstream, some people want relief, and some people are driven to the edge by their own brains. Theoretically, in a ‘mentally healthy’ human (if anyone is 100% ‘mentally healthy’ then I’ll eat my shoe), there should be an instinct to survive. We should have a nervous reaction towards anything that risks our lives. I think I might be in this weird little subgroup. I don’t want to cause actual harm to myself, but I also don’t fear situations where this might happen.

I feel like a bit of an anomaly within my group of peers. My body goes into fight or flight at the wrong times. My body COULDN’T GET IT MORE FUCKING WRONG in terms of when I need adrenaline and nausea and sweat. My body felt absolutely no hesitation at jumping off of a 400ft ledge, but a COMMON HOUSEFLY IN MY BEDROOM????? THAT SHIT CAN’T RUN. I didn’t break a sweat when jumping off a cliff, but dust? Dust is an immediate threat to my health and – subsequently – my survival. My nervous system wakes up sharply in response to these things like “IT’S FUCKING GO-TIME BABY”.

I’ve never felt a fear of romantic rejection. I didn’t feel fear when I was once accosted by an angry gang of men on my way home alone from a night out in London. I can’t recall feeling fear on rollercoaster rides. I do, however, feel fear when I think about the fact that I’m breathing in dust right now. I feel fear about the germs that may be settled within my fingerprints. I’m scared incase I’ve hurt my dogs without realising. I’m scared that I’m a bad person. I’m scared that I might have an STI even though I know I don’t. I’m terrified because flies have eaten dogshit and then landed on my walls (filthy bastards). Logic doesn’t work with any of these fears, and they sometimes cause me the same physical reaction that life-threatening situations would to others. 

I first realised that my sense of fear was a little off after I had CBT for the first time in 2016. Exposure therapy saw me touching floors in public toilets, rubbing my clothes on floors, and refusing to wash my hands for as long as I could. This helped me in terms of regaining control over my brain, but it left my ‘gross radar’ a little off kilter and I’ve since found myself asking my sister “wait, is it gross that I’m doing this?”, to which she sometimes responds “absolutely“. This got me thinking about how OCD has changed my core behaviours and lifestyle, and I soon realised that not only was my gross radar dodgy – my fear radar was very fucking dodgy aswell. 

I usually like to round my posts off with a nice neat, logical explanation, but I’m completely puzzled by this element of my personality. I need answers. WHY has this happened?? Is it definitely caused by OCD or am I just a weirdo? What happens if the OCD just disappears one day? Will I stop being scared of pointless shit and start feeling nervous about doing adrenaline junkie stuff? Are there any other OCDers out there that have experienced a shift in their fear radar during exacerbations of OCD? And if so, d’you wanna hangout and do some really fun shit?

Any comments or thoughts would be greatly appreciated – you can contact me privately via the contact page if you don’t want to leave a public comment.


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