At the end of the book, 1984 by George Orwell, one of the characters is tortured by being forced to face his worst fear. Throughout the book, the character Winston had nightmares about rats. So he is taken to Room 101 where a cage full of rats is strapped to his head, to eat his face. He breaks and gives his enemies what they want. I don't blame him.
Last week I could have sworn that I was in Room 101 facing my worst fear. (Truth be told I have a ridiculous number of fears and this might not be the worst, but allow me a little poetic license here. . .)
I have a phobia, as I am told many people do, of the dentist. I don't care about the shots or the x-rays, but I dread everything else about it starting with that horrible chair! It makes me feel vunderable like a child, and that is almost insufferable. I don't even like to have my teeth cleaned because of the chair and the fact that metal touching my teeth for me is what nails on the chalkboard are to others. Ewww!
Like many people with phobias, my response to this has been to avoid the dentist. Which, naturally has taken a toll on my teeth, which I can no longer ignore if I want to keep them.
The cause of phobias is not certain, though scientists believe they can be genetic or from tramatic experiences. I say let's blame it on the genes.
So my dentist office is trying to work with me. I have to say they have been really great. They offered me Laughing Gas and Valium if the Laughing Gas was not enough. I decided to try just the Laughing Gas.
The first time with the Gas was wonderful. Seriously, wonderful is not a strong enough word. I was completely relaxed and in my own little world of philosophical thoughts. I thought to myself, "Wow, if this is what it is like to be drunk, it is no wonder people get addicted!" I actually found myself looking forward to my next appointment!
Phobia cured! Right? Sadly no. . .I don't know what happened, but the next time the Gas did not make me laugh. It did not make me relax. It had precisly the opposite effect. I felt more scared than ever, and on the verge of tears the whole time. (I did cry for a good long time in my van as soon as I got out of there.) The gas dulled my mind enough that I couldn't think of how to tell the dentist what the problem was. Each time he started the drill I would practically jump out of the chair and he would stop and ask if he was hurting me. I would shake my head no, and he would start again.
What is the hand signal for I feel like I am in a nightmare and I can't wake up?
Phobias are irrational. And yet knowing this does not lessen the fear. Logically, I can tell myself that the dentist was really kind, and that nothing bad happened that day other than my fears. but it's like my phobia does not speak English. I have considered the Valium option for next time, but have a fear (likely irrational) that it will put me in that fearful state for a couple hours until it wears off.
I have another appointment with Room 101 on Aug 24th, whatever shall I do?
How about you? What are your phobias? Are there people who don't have any phobias? Is that possible? How do you tame your fears?
Tame your fear. . .I like that. Next time I'm in the chair in Room 101, I'll imagine that I am a lion tamer and I will crack the whip on my fears. Yeah, that will help. You believe that don't you? Ok, me neither. Ugh.