Lilapsophobia: The Fear of Thunderstorms
What is Lilapsophobia?
"Lilapsophobia, or fear of tornadoes and hurricanes, can be seen as a more severe form of astraphobia, or fear of thunder and lightning. If you suffer from lilapsophobia, it is not the average summer storm that you fear, but the possibility of that storm becoming severe. This phobia is relatively common, although rarer than astraphobia."
Here's My Personal Story
How can a goth girl be afraid of storms? I don't know, but afraid isn't quite strong enough of a word for it. I have a terror of storms. It doesn't help that I live in the south where severe storms are as common as people who say y'all. I've been terrified of storms for as long as I can remember, but since having my first son the fear has quadrupled into an all out phobia. I think it's because I have absolutely no control over what happens and I have nowhere safe to go. Let me back up a minute and clarify...
It's not storms I'm afraid of so much as what they produce - tornadoes. Just that word makes me sick to my stomach. I don't have a storm shelter or a basement, so if a tornado hit my house I'm a goner. And yes, I know the odds of a direct hit from a tornado are only a little less than the odds of winning the lottery, but that doesn't help. I automatically think that my house is going to be the one hit by an EF5 tornado and they'll find my entrails in one tree and my torso in another.
Another horrible thought that courses through my mind is 'What if my house is hit by a tornado and I'm killed but my children survive and are left alone to find help on their own?' Or worse - what if I survive and lose one or both of them? It's an obsession. I have often dreamt of these scenarios and they're very clear and full, and I always wake up in tears and violent tremors.
I watch the weather constantly. I can tell you a week in advance if there's a chance of severe weather. And I will panic up to that point until it's over and passed. The day of the potential storm is the worst!
I wake up with a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. I will watch the weather to see what every channel has to say. Then wait in a panic until the storms arrive. When I start to hear thunder I get sick to my stomach. If the wind picks up I begin to pace. There have been many, many times I've gotten myself so worked up that I've thrown up. And God forbid if there's a tornado warning for my area! That's when I go into panic hyper-mode and make everyone get in the dining room (the innermost room in the house), under the table, and cover up with pillows and blankets. And I pray. I pray the most when it's storming. Then it'll pass and I've survived and all is well.
Until next time...
I've recently been trying to ease my fear by keeping myself off the weather channels. That sometimes backfires, though, as at times a storm will sneak up on me without warning and then it's instant panic all over again. My youngest son has adopted my fear to a degree, and that kills me inside. I would never wish this phobia on my worst enemy, and here I've taught it to my son. I find myself lying to him that I'm ok, I'm not afraid, God will take care of us! When inside there is turmoil and a fear so strong that it feels like ice has taken over my veins.
I wish I could have updated this article I wrote so many years ago and tell you that my fear has eased, but I can't. Here in the south where I live, we've had quite the quiet Spring for the last two seasons in a row. You would think that would give me comfort, but it does not. Because I remember the last time we had three quiet Springs in a row, the fourth produced the most violent and deadly tornadic day on record. April 27, 2011. I know the date by heart. And I live in North Alabama, one of the hardest hit areas on that day.
Also since this article was originally written and the super outbreak of April 27, my dad broke down and bought a storm shelter and had it installed beside his home. And you would think that would give me some sort of comfort. It doesn't. Because I don't have a car at this time. And I have one son who is home-schooled and one son who goes to public school, my husband works during the day and I stay home with my oldest son to teach him. We're all separated without a means of transportation. This does nothing to ease my phobia.
What this situation does is actually makes it worse, thinking my oldest and I are going to be stuck here in a tornado with no way to escape, my youngest son will be stuck in school with no way to escape, and my husband will be stuck at work with no way to escape. Have you heard of Hackleburg, Alabama? On that awful day April 27, 2011, a Wrangler plant in Hackleburg took a direct hit from an EF5 tornado. 13 employees were working at the time and one was killed and nothing was left of the building. Yes, I see that it is a miracle only one person was killed, but in my mind that one person could and likely would be my husband. Because that's how phobias work.
I hope to update this article again in the future and tell you all my phobia has finally been put to bed, but so far no dice. Thank you to each and every person who has taken time out of their day to share their stories with me, even some going to far as to email me and find me on facebook to connect with me, letting me know I am not alone. You guys mean the world to me. Together, we should figure out a way to build a dome to keep our families safe.