Opinion: Pandemic Contributes Additional Fears


Dezz Mello

The Covid-19 pandemic sprouts new fears for travelers.

It all started when I was 5 years old and my entire family walked from the car into the front door of my house and left me behind. I yelled for my mother to come back and get me because I was having a hard time finding a way around the extremely large toad that was sitting in the middle of the doorway. 

That fear still lives within me to this day. I simply cannot be near those bumpy, lumpy, popped-eyed, hunched-over, slimy, ready-to-leap-on-your-leg critters.

Everyone has a different threshold of fear. It just happens to be that my threshold for terror is very, very low, according to my parents. It seems that I have been afraid of almost everything. Whether it flies, swims, or jumps, the probability exist that I will keep my distance and remain far away from it. 

The threat of the highly contagious coronavirus has intensified my fears to a new level. Continuously having to be aware of my surroundings has put an additional burden on my senses when I go out in public. I have to always monitor how close I am to other people, where I am, and what I am touching. I would have never imagined someone’s red, sniffling, runny nose could be so frightful. Now, as soon as I hear someone coughing near me, my anxiety level increases and my heart rate begins to speed up.

This Covid-19 pandemic is another log on my fire of anxiety and fear that has been burning up any courage I ever had. 

One of my common fears, along with most humans, is ghosts that should not be standing in my house at night. Whenever I decide to venture downstairs to the kitchen for a midnight snack, I need to turn the lights on. Something always tells me that there might just be a ghost standing in the corner watching me, and that’s why I no longer watch spooky movies. 

Then there’s the large brown-winged bomber roaches that we have here in Kaneohe, yes, the ones that dive from the roof straight down into the back of your shirt. Why God would put those creatures on Earth is beyond me. The feeling that I had when that montorious insect was crawling up my back that dreadful Saturday night in October of 2009 still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Although I enjoy flying on an airplane, the thoughts that I get while the plane is taking off gives me extreme anxiety. Thinking that the plane would blow up or have an engine failure always somehow seems to enter my mind during take off. The crazy thoughts usually only last till the fasten seat belt sign goes off, but it happens every time I step foot on an airplane.

Yes I live on an island, and I do swim in the ocean. One of the scariest events that happened to me one day was about 7 in the morning when I was out diving. I peeked into a coral cave that was about 15 feet deep and waited to let my eyes adjust to the underwater view. Then suddenly, my mask began to fill with water because I was yelling from the sight of a huge, white, pokey, pufferfish staring right back at me. I flew out of the water like a long-range nuclear missile. I had no idea that I would be afraid of a 5-pound pufferfish, but I am.

I also never knew that I was afraid of heights until my dad and I were on a trip to Seattle. We decided to stop off and see the world famous Space Needle which stands at 605 feet tall. Taking the elevator ride to the top was a lot better than I expected, but once we walked to the ledge at the top and saw how high we were, I knew something was wrong. My legs felt like a wet saimin noodle and I couldn’t seem to get myself close enough to the railing to get a straight down view. I noticed a film of perspiration on my cheeks and forehead and knew I couldn’t remain up there for much longer.

I have come to face the realization that for the rest of my life, I will remain clear of ledges on tall buildings, the depths of deep waters, most flying insects, and rocks that appear to be jumping (toads). To me, embarrassment has no effect on how I feel about my fears. I actually find it very amusing when people tease me about being afraid of my own shadow. 

In retrospect, my fears may seem a little nonsensical to you, but to me they are all very real. With every new confirmed coronavirus case in the U.S., my fear level increases and in my mind I begin to imagine how bad this pandemic could turn out to be. 

A wise man once said it’s better to be afraid and alive than brave and dead.