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Recent fear of the Dark

LeiaFlower

Confident
This past week a childhood fear of the dark resurfaced. It’s an intense feeling. I’m scared to even describe it out of the fear of making it real. However, I don’t want things to get worse.

I’m mostly scared of someone hurting me when I’m sleep. Hurting me in the sense of covering my mouth and climbing on top of me. Whether their goal is to kill me or assault me physically or sexually is unclear. It just a stark fear of someone climbing on top of me that leads me to lock my door at night, turn on the light, not make sudden movements, sleep with a stuffed animal, lying facing the door although being scared what lurks behind my window, and even asking someone to sleep in the bed with me or joining them in their room.

It’s progressively getting worse. Now tonight I’m scared to go to sleep entirely. I just feel this wave of anxiety that’s causing crying spells. And none of my go to’s are helping me settle this fear. I’m just getting really scared and I don’t know what do. Do anyone have any ideas to tackle a growing fear of the dark? Has anyone tried exposure therapy for their fears? What is the connection of PTSD and childhood/adulthood fears?

I’ve tried mantras and trying to talk myself out of it to no avail.
 
Has anyone tried exposure therapy for their fears?
Not ‘fear’ so much as a trigger (sounds like that’s what you’re describing?). Mine was grey carpet.

Exposure therapy (which involved getting a carpet square from a carpet shop, because I didn’t own any - the lengths we go to!). Worked. I couldn’t walk on grey carpet without a meltdown (almost always very public - picture me squatting on a chair half way down a hallway, shaking and bawling loudly while people lay towels over the carpet between me and the nearest door to get me outta there!). Worked a treat. Did it with the help of my T so that I didn’t cross the line into flooding.

My trigger got a lot worse as I got deeper into therapy and my general coping with the world declined. Glad it’s now behind me.

Like treating specific phobias (like arachnophobia) and more generalised anxieties (like social anxiety), avoiding the source completely tends to make fears worse. But with trauma-based triggers, you’re straight into fight/flight mode. Treatment of both is much the same, but with triggers, and can be a case that avoidance is necessary until therapeutic guidance is available.
 
Ditto @Sideways
I’m mostly scared of someone hurting me when I’m sleep.
Hurting me in the sense of covering my mouth and climbing on top of me. Whether their goal is to kill me or assault me physically or sexually is unclear.
This reads like you’re being triggered by the dark, &/or are experiencing flashbacks, rather than being afraid of the dark.

Which is my FAVOURITE use for exposure therapy!!! Blunting & eliminating triggers & stressors. 😎
 
By the by?

I’ve got more than a few issues with light/dark from my own trauma history. In short? I’ve been attacked in the dark waaaaay too many times, in too many different ways.

One of the most persistent? Is one I never did any kind of exposure therapy on until it was “too late”, because before I was living with other people I didn’t really know I had a thing about it, and after I became aware (by living with others) I didn’t/don’t have the control necessary to chip away at it, until it’s a non-issue. Once I’m living on my own, again, it will be a fairly high up item on the list to sort.

Here’s the core belief behind it

“The ONLY reasons to shut off all the lights is to prevent people from shooting at you from outside &/or to plunge enemies into darkness to gain momentary upper hand if they’re already inside.”

I keep the lights ON in my homes. Not all of them, unless I’m going out, the reverse of how most people flick switches off before they go out. So that I’m never coming home to a dark house, unless the power is out -or- someone else has been there. Which are both useful things to know, before I step foot inside.

The only thing that infuriates me more than the lights being off where I live? Is the lights being flashed on, and shut off, room by room, illuminating exactly where everyone is, in the house. I HATE that. Hate, hate, hate. INFURIATING. Either/both being true? Living in the dark, or showing anyone/everyone the exact locations of everyone in the house? Means, at best, my anxiety is running hot as hell, and at worst I’m triggered multiple times a day to full blown fight/flight panic/rage.

^^^^ See how neither your fear of someone climbing on top of you & silencing you before they hurt you, and keeping watch underneath the door for people walking towards your room, is the only way to protect yourself… and my fear of people shooting through the windows at the lit up targets inside, or lying in ambush in darkened rooms… are NOT a generalized / childish fear OF the dark?

Instead they’re both extremely specific, and near polar opposites of each other. The specificity speaks to experience. Which speaks to triggers/stressors & flashbacks/panic attacks. That they’re so different in their specificity speaks to very different trauma histories.
 
I keep the lights ON in my homes. Not all of them, unless I’m going out, the reverse of how most people flick switches off before they go out. So that I’m never coming home to a dark house, unless the power is out -or- someone else has been there. Which are both useful things to know, before I step foot inside.
Yup. When my back was realllly ugly bad I couldn't do bed. A couple blankets on the floor was good - so on the floor with the TV on because IF I managed sleep, good. That and I didn't wake my wife up all the time - happened right about when menopause started for her too so yeah, when I did sleep not waking up alternately freezing or cooking was good too.
Nightmares got bad about then too so I just ended up in a place where I don't go to bed anymore - I sack out in front of the TV in the basement. When I cant sleep - watch my own DVD'sand stuff - non triggering and repeating the same thing helps with ZZZZ....too. All in one - light, entertainment, noise, awake or asleep. And I can adjust my bed with foam matress or not depending on how my back is - worse = firmer not softer.....
 
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