Anxiety & Phobias & Fears, Oh My!
How I learned I am cleithrophobic and what I intend to do about it.
Some people are scared of small spaces. I didn’t think I was one of them. So when I made my appointment for an MRI and was asked – more than once – if I was claustrophobic, I replied no. Well, Thursday afternoon came around and I was strapped up, but before the technician could slide me in, I asked for some water. Then I started to talk really quickly, as I do when I’m anxious. We soon realized that I wasn’t going to be having an MRI that day. We discussed my options and I re-scheduled the appointment for the next day at a different location with a different type of machine. I couldn’t fall asleep that night because I was dreading the appointment. I shed tears all Friday morning at my desk hoping colleagues wouldn’t notice my red eyes. Done with crying, done with feeling embarrassed and done with seeing myself as a huge baby, I packed up my things and drove to my appointment. I arrived and sat in my car until the last possible second. I checked in and waited in the lobby. I couldn’t keep it together. Friday wasn’t my day to have an MRI either. I was told to talk with my doctor about some medications to calm me down but all I could think was, “There’s no way I’m coming back.”
At my desk that afternoon, I was trying to figure it out. “I’m not scared of small spaces,” I thought. “If I could press the button to make myself go in, I would be fine,” I pondered. “It’s because the situation is out of my control, but I can do it, I know I can do it.” Wiping my eyes, I did a quick Google search on claustrophobia, and there in the middle of the page, I saw an article on the difference between claustrophobia and cleithrophobia. Cleithrophobia is the fear of being trapped. Reading the words and recognizing myself, I promptly lost it at the office. I started to reflect on situations where I felt out of control, knowing I couldn’t escape if I wanted to, and my reactions to said situations (it’s never been pretty). I started to calm down a little when I read about how common the phobia was and that it was treatable, but my next thought was, “I don’t want to define myself as cleithrophobic.”
Even though that’s how I started this post, I don’t want this phobia to be a part of my identity. I don’t want a situation to come up and for me to say, “Oh, I’m cleithrophobic. I can’t do it.” I don't want this fear to hold me back. Thursday night, as I struggled to fall asleep, I repeated 2 Timothy 1:7. God has not given you nor me a spirit of fear. He has given us power, love and a sound mind. If you are struggling with a phobia or an anxiety, I challenge you to not let it control you or define you. God has given us His peace and He has also equipped trained professionals to help us conquer our fears or at the very least, provide us with some meds to help us face them. As a daughter of God, the next time I face a situation that is less than desirable to the point it keeps me up at night, I will remember to trust in God. He is with us and there is no reason to fear.