What it Feels Like to live in constant fear

Reagan Brewer // As told by Reagan Brewer

I know that death is inevitable. When I tell people I am terrified that I am going to die at any given moment, that is what they tell me. Fearing death is not something I can control, and to be honest, I have no clue how it became the most present fear in my life. One of the most common reasons people fear death in their lives is because they experienced some sort of childhood trauma. In my life, I have experienced nothing close to trauma. Grasping on to the idea that I do not understand why fearing death terrifies me so much but not knowing the cause is one of the hardest things to attempt to understand.

As bad as it sounds, I think about death on a day-to-day basis in a fearful way. Throughout my everyday life I pose “What if…” questions. One day, I was doing schoolwork in my basement, and my dad walked down the stairs behind me. Chills shot right up my spine and my immediate thought was that he was pointing a gun at me. My dad and I have an amazing relationship, and never in a million years would this be an actual situation that were to occur, but in the back of my head I am always thinking about the worst. This is only one example of many. Some nights I lay awake at night, terrified to fall asleep, because I think I will not wake up in the morning; or I go to the bathroom and think someone is ready to kill me behind the shower curtain.

I have never really thought about why I am so scared to die or be killed; I thought it was a fear almost everyone had. A few people I know fear death, but it definitely is not something they think about on an everyday basis. For them, it is more of a spur-of-the moment thought; for me, that is not the case. I am practically living in constant fear all day every day. One of the worst things about it is that it prevents me from doing certain activities or living life. For example, I have visited the ocean multiple times, but I have always been terrified to swim in it. I like to think I have many strands of fear surrounding death, such as the fear of sharks. Sharks are one of my biggest fears which is the reason that I have never really swam in the ocean. I have never seen a shark outside of an aquarium, so I do not have a good explanation for that fear either. Ultimately, the reason I fear sharks so much is because I think they are going to attack me and eat me alive; as bad as it sounds, there is no other way of putting it.

Living with such a prominent fear prevents me from doing things that everyone else is comfortable with. Many people absolutely love visiting Chicago, and it is something my friends and family love doing. However, it is one of the things that scares me most. Yes, I think the city is pretty in pictures and from afar, but my immediate thought when someone even mentions Chicago is violence and crime. The longer I am in the city, the more my fear grows. At first I worry about getting mugged or simpler concerns, but shortly later I get more and more scared. I think I am going to get shot, kidnapped, any fear you could possibly imagine. As much as I want to love the city, and consider visiting it a fun time, I can not stop thinking about the “what ifs…”.

Not only does being terrified that you are going to die at any given moment suck to live with, but it also worries me for my future. Living alone is a scary thought to think about. Living in a house with my parents helps me cope with my fear because it helps my mind think of my house as a safe place; my parents being home creates almost a bubble around my house. When I live alone, that bubble will be lost, and I will have to become more reliant on myself while also worrying more about the people around me and people I am responsible for. In the future, I want to have kids, but my fear of death makes me think that I will hold them back from living their lives to the fullest. Obviously these are not problems I have to worry about right now, but they are certainly things I will have to cross paths with later on in life.