Fear Squared

She’s been gone for three days now. I haven’t left my house. Today I haven’t left my bed. I’m not under the bed sheets, but on top of them; knees at my chest, rocking like a mad-man. I think I am going mad. This feeling is relentless. Whatever this is, I think it’s going to kill me. It’s inside me, like ants, crawling under my skin, making their way through my limbs and settling in my gut. I claw at my stomach, frantic and desperate. I imagine plunging my hand inside and ripping this feeling out of me. I imagine it would come out like a plague of flies, swarming and dirty, like one of those mummy movies. Maybe then I would find peace; my my desert oasis. I need respite. I beg for help but there is no one here; my calls echo throughout the abandoned house. I hold onto the slats of the headboard, gripping with as much strength as I can muster, but my body collapses and I break down in tears. I wish someone would find me and take me away from here. I cry out to no-one, imploring them to help me, but I know if help arrived, I wouldn’t want to leave. I can’t, I need to be here, this is the only place I’m safe.

***

It’s evening when I wake. I know, because I can see the sky from my window, grey and looming. I fight the thought that the sky will make its way in here and get me. I’m not stupid, I know that won’t happen, but still, I turn away from the window. It’s like this all the time now. I have two voices in my head; one is me and the other is me too, but the other is paranoid and restive. They argue on and off all day; a battle between the rational and irrational parts of my mind. The other always wins. I suppose it’s because she is persistent and I’m fearful of ignoring her.

Uneasy, I make my way downstairs to the kitchen. The house is dark now, but I won’t switch on the lights. I shut the blinds and watch the streetlight shine through the gaps, the outside forcing its way in. That is enough light for now. I decide to make myself a cup of tea, be normal, and watch some TV. TV used to pass the time, but now my time passes in silence. My ears hear every noise that might be outside, and my mind conjures up all sorts of horror movie scenarios. What if something happens to me and there is no one here to help?

I’m stuck; but worse than being stuck in this house, I’m stuck in my own mind. My sliver of life exists within the confines of warped cognitive function. There is irony in being agoraphobic. All I want to do is escape, but I am my own prison. My mind tells me to run, but I want to run from my mind. This is not fear of the outside. It’s fear of what might happen outside. It’s fear of what might happen inside. It’s the terror of being alone, but mostly it’s the fear of being afraid.

As I suspected, I have no teabags, or milk. The corner shop is at the end of the street, but I can’t go all the way along there, especially in the dark. Outside, the vastness constricts me, and I worry I will collapse under the unbearable pressure of nothing. I am afraid of something so endless, my mind can’t contain or understand it. It feels like I am trying to process the whole world at once; my brain so full, I can’t enclose my thoughts. They overflow, spilling out, loud in my ears, flowing faster and faster until they overpower me. But no one can see to rescue me, I am invisibly helpless; frozen and afraid.

I’m a failure and I’m thirsty. I need someone to bring milk to me, but who can I phone? What would they say if they found me here like this? Who I really need isn’t here. Everything would be better if she were here. Her presence soaks up my anxiety and frees me from it. I’m safe when she’s around. My dependency is calming, unwavering and solid. I hate myself for it.

There is nothing I can do now, I have no choice but to go back to bed. I take a small kitchen knife from the drawer, and check each room on my way upstairs. The real me tells me I’m being ridiculous, there is no one in the house; but the other tells me I should check anyway. I sit the knife on my bedside table and climb into bed. What if someone comes in and sees the knife? They could get to it before me. I move the knife under my pillow, then worry I will hurt myself in my sleep. Finally, I slide the knife between the edge of the mattress and the bed frame. Its proximity eases my mind. I know this needs to stop. Tomorrow, she will be back, and we will do something about this.