The monster under the bed

It's Halloween today and of course this is an invitation to talk about anxiety.

Tonight is the night to get dressed up and spend the evening of Halloween as a monster, a demon or a zombie, a black widow, Freddy Kruger, Frankenstein, a dark dramatic witch and all sorts of scary entities. In moments like this the imagination is running wild, we get scared easily and even enjoy the goose bumps . We see shadows on the walls, spiders crawling over our feet, the dark night and all of its secrets is out to get us.

If all of that was real we certainly would not enjoy any of this. We would face serious danger and therefore fall into fight, flight or freeze response and do everything to get out of there alive, back into safety.

So why doesn't it happen at Halloween?

Because somehow DEEP down inside of us we just KNOW, it is NOT REAL and so we can find a pleasure in the shiver, fun in a scream. We know, there is no monster under the bed and therefore there is nothing more to do about it.

When people feel anxiety very strongly, they do forget, that there is no monster under the bed. They perceive a danger as real, that isn't even there. So they imagine all possible worst case scenarios and experience them as reality, because it FEELS REAL. They tend to use all kinds of "exorcisms", like breathing their way out of the situation, or "trying" not to think about it, or "trying" to tell themselves, it is not real. It is not working all that well, because in any case the implication is : there is a monster under the bed ... and I have to find ways to escape. That normally worsens the anxiety.

When you are suffering from anxiety and/or panic attacks, what would happen, if you discovered, REALLY discovered, there is no monster under the bed? What you label "THRILL" on Halloween night in terms of physical sensations is no different to the feelings of anxiety, only you know it is UNREAL and generally safe to play.

I hope that helps,