That’s right. I said it. Lilapsophobia. Intense, irrational fear of tornadoes (and/or hurricanes). Despite the elegant name that makes it sound like a fear of being dragged into Yankee Candle for a smell-session with your Mother-in-law, having this phobia is NO joke!
Just in case you do have this phobia, as I do, here’s a picture of a boss-ass spider I found in the woods to get your mind off of the intense knots that just built up in your stomach.
(Don’t worry, I lifted my feet onto my chair too. And no, nothing is crawling on you. I imagine you’d feel a beast like that guy as something more than just a little phantom tickle.)
So, if you share my problem, you’re hyper-aware of one thing right now.
- There is a storm raging across the eastern half of the United States right meow that has killed dozens of people and millions of dollars of damage with its ability to spawn multiple tornadoes from its Supercell thunderstorms.
and you probably have the following symptoms:
- Obsessively checking the weather via multiple websites, on varying devices.
- Knots deep in the pit of your stomach that keep you from eating and/or cause you to have to shit or puke if you DO have anything in your stomach.
- Shaking or shivering.
- Disturbed or little sleep.
- Loss of the ability to feel some of your limbs (my legs go numb, for instance, as they are right now having to recall these emotions).
So, why does this happen? I am in no immediate danger right now, nor was I for the past few days when all this started, far West of me.. but that has not stopped my anxiety in the slightest. While I am sure there are many reasons you can become a lilapsophobiac, the most prevalent is due to living through a storm that impressed upon you the seriousness of how intense these situations can get.
These are pictures of the traumatic incident that has lead me to living my life in absolute fear, even when not logical or necessary. In late April of 2013, there were some strong thunderstorms passing through my city, and I did not think twice about it. I had never experienced a tornado before, and though I knew logically to be respectful of good ol’ mother nature, you never really expect these things to happen to you… until they do.
I was at work while Eric was at home. Though most of my co-workers probably only remember me on the floor, crying uncontrollably, completely inconsolable, (Embarrassing? Yes.) I will never forget myself as a person with no fear of tornadoes. I miss that strength. Every single time the sky is grey.
Our window blew in, hitting Eric and annihilating most of the personal possessions in our computer room. And when I say the window blew in? I mean, this shit didn’t even SHATTER. The WHOLE window blew OFF the frame and came barreling into Eric as a solid piece. He called me just after this happened, and my world dissolved. The damage didn’t stop there. While we were on the phone, neighbors alerted Eric that his Durango was.. let’s say unwantedly fondled by a dancing tree trunk. Ruined.
Our apartment complex was in shambles. Many roofs had been skinned clean off their bodies. A neighbor, friend, and co-worker of Eric’s recalled throwing his young child into the kitchen sink and making him hide; sure of certain death.
A strange man stood on his balcony, welcoming the storm despite the strangled, muffled yells of neighbors telling him to seek shelter inside.
We all lived.
You might be wondering at this point, why am I so heavily affected by what happened when I wasn’t even there? Perhaps if you have this phobia, you question yourself frequently, wondering, “What am I so scared of?” Is it death? Is it the loss of control? Is it the loss of personal belongings? Maybe it’s just that you can’t stomach the gore; houses mangled, bleeding their once-warm insides onto nameless streets. Cars that found their way into fatal accidents with no one behind the wheel.
The world will never care. Nature does not discriminate. Love does not conquer all, it just is. And you can have it taken from you. So odd that something intangible can be stolen. A happy spirit. A confidence. A strength. A friendship. A love. The world is the greatest thief of all; she can steal that which we can only feel.
So what do you do? Specifically for storms, read as much as you can. Educate yourself and use your knowledge as a weapon. Know the difference between a watch and a warning. Train yourself not to be fearful of the watch. Wait until there is a warning to kick your brain into the gear that something might happen. This might sound counter intuitive for anyone with half of a functioning brain when bad weather strikes, but for those paralyzed by fear it could mean the difference between making money at work or unnecessarily calling out.. spending your day in the tub with a helmet on or being able to lounge on the couch and read your favorite book.. feeling regret. When you master the control for the watch vs. warning, graduate to a full understanding of potential risk signs. Do you hear thunder? Or a freight train? Is the rain coming down straight? Or is it sideways? Are the clouds conducive to the production of a tornado?
Most of all, fearful or not, have a plan. Keep water, a med kit, flashlights, helmets, blankets, and anything else you deem necessary readily accessible. When the weather moves from watch to warning, move all your affects into your designated safe room (preferably on the lowest level, in an interior room with no windows. It is an absolute bonus to have an underground hidey-hole or basement). This way, you will have something to physically do that might help reboot your brain from paralyzing fear to instinctual control. When you are all set up with a comfortable spot to wait out the brunt of the storm, do your best to live moment-to-moment. In this VERY moment, are you alive? Yes, yes you are. Do not use negation-statements such as “I am not dead” or “My car is not being smooshed” or “My lover is not missing” – Always use positive statements. “I am alive”, “My car is fantastic”, “My lover is right here”.
I turn the floor to you! (About time, eh?) Do you have any paralyzing fears that you would like me to research and talk about? Have you ever recovered from a fear that manifested in PTSD? Are you scared of storms? What do you do to cope?
Maybe you could sing..
So I won’t blame you if you don’t. ^_^.