I Freak Myself Out

So, because Joe Bunting prompted me to write something vulnerable, I decided to go full-bore and announce a thing that might make you think I’m nuts.

I assumed I must be crazy - which is the default assumption when we go through things and keep them to ourselves Click To Tweet

Here’s what happens: when there is a possibility of anything happening (which is all the time because life), my brain spins a wild and horrifying tale of what might go wrong.

  • Have to leave the house? It might burn down and kill our cats because they won’t be able to get out and they’d suffer and it would be horrible and I can hear their panicked meows and feel their growing fear as they cry for us to come rescue them but we were too late and they died waiting for us and we were too late.
  • Husband’s changing the oil? The jack might break and the car could crush him and I wouldn’t know because I’m upstairs and I’d be futzing around in the kitchen making him something yummy because I love him and finally wondering where he is but by the time I come down his blood is cold on the pavement and it’s too late I’m too late there’s nothing I can do but scream.
  • I went to the restroom in a public place? Flesh-eating bacteria might just eat my face. (It’s okay to laugh at that one. I saw an episode of America’s Next Top Model once where some girl got that on her face for NO REASON, and it has haunted me ever since.)

Okay, so, see, I do NOT actually live in fear of these things happening. I travel and drive and pee in public restrooms all the time (TMI? TMI!), and all without second thoughts of flesh-eating bacteria or smooshed spouses.

I’m sitting in the cafeteria of a HOSPITAL right now (my husband is undergoing Stuff), and I’m not freaking out or wiping things down or imagining the hyperbaric chamber exploding (except right then, but it doesn’t count).

But there are weird times when fear grabs me. Last night was a great example (and the reason for this post). Now, see if you can follow the logic-fail of the situation:


  1. We have two cats, one of whom is young and incredibly clumsy.
  2. She was downstairs.
  3. I heard a noise downstairs.
  4. I promptly envisioned thugs with guns, and when my husband graciously offered to go down and check it out, I THEN envisioned him getting killed because he had a flashlight so they’d see him coming and I would end up weeping over his body and begging the bad guys to kill me too because horrible bad brain bad horrible.
  5. Finale: it was the cat in the bathroom, nothing happened, and we went to sleep.

You see? For a few moments there, I was gripped with completely illogical fear, all based on a wild story my brain spun. It lasted seconds. They were horrible seconds, but only seconds.

Now, to be fair, I do this storytelling with good things, too – but I find that disturbs people a little less.

I have just discovered my husband thinks like this, too.

I had no idea until this very afternoon. I assumed he didn’t because hey, I must be crazy, which I think is the default for any of us who go through something and keep it to ourselves.

Spoiler alert: I’m not crazy, and you might not be, either.

So what about you?

Seriously. Do you feel this way? I know I’m not crazy – there’s no obsession, no impact at all on life because these are just horrific daymares – but it helped me A LOT to realize I wasn’t alone.

Feel free to comment or ask questions. Tell me if how you feel.

Also, don’t forget to thank Joe for coming up with this idea in the first place. Now that I know I’m not the only one, I feel a whole lot better.


A three-times bestselling author, Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and been the keynote speaker for the Write Practice Retreat. Author of two series with five books and fifty-plus short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom and used up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon in the process. When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away. P.S. Red is still her favorite color.