By Amber Appel
It’s late at night and everyone is tucked away into bed. You wake up and shuffle out from under your sheets. It’s a midnight bathroom trip. You finish washing your hands then face the darkened room. It was easy enough getting to the bathroom with sleepy eyes already adjusted to the dark, but now you hesitate to flick off the bathroom light and plunge into the now unknown. What could be out there? Nothing, you say, but the fear is still there. In a quick rush you slap the light switch down, run a short distance, then leap into bed, pulling the covers all the way up to your chin. Where you followed? Are you safe? Can you be found? You tell yourself its unnecessary but you click on your bedside lamp to survey the now familiar room. Click. You turn it off and shut your eyes, but did you check everywhere? Maybe something snuck into your closet. Click. Click. Click. Click.
Anyone can be afraid of the dark. Young or old, anybody can be frightened by what goes bump in the night. Some nights are filled with a mix of anxiety and imagination that can leave the toughest of us sleeping with the lights on. You are perfectly aware that it’s just your mind playing tricks on you, but it’s not easy to ignore it in the moment. This is why I’ve developed some tactics to defeating the monsters by using the same tool that creates them: imagination!
The trick to defeating the perceived dangers of the night come from recognizing that you are essentially seeing yourself as a defenseless target. Your guard is down. In order to sleep, you need to feel secure, so one way to accomplish that is to change the story. Is the monster in the dark that girl from the Ring? Maybe a scary animation you saw circling the net? Is folklore getting you down? Is it Slender Man? Good news! These are all imaginary. You are real. And you can take them down! Make this your mantra: I am the monster in the dark.
You are a living, breathing human being who has faced so many demons and hurdles in your life. You are a force to be reckoned with. No monsters will ever step to you because they are in their own imaginary beds fearing you. Feel your own power and that feeling of vulnerability will slip away.
Let that knowledge help you, and if you want to feel, not just powerful, but protected, build a shield. Imagine a glowing force field surrounding you that will keep all fears and dangers away. Expand and shrink your shield to whatever feels safest. If your mind can create spooks like Minecraft zombies and creepers, then you have the power to banish them.
And when you can’t help but think of the Babadook and how its face terrifies you, remember that ridiculousness is an excellent weapon. You can follow after Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban and shout Riddikulus to spell the monsters into wearing your grandmother’s clothes. Luckily my fear of the Babadook was made ridiculous for me by the internet, so now instead of a night fright, the Babadook is now a gay icon, and I couldn’t be more supportive.
So, whenever anxiety strikes and the shadows take form in the night, remember you are scarier than anything. You are protected and loved by yourself and others, and you can edit your fears into gay icons. Now go have a good night sleep!
Edited by Emily Chance