With the recent increase in creepy clown sightings around the United States, I have to admit I was concerned for my wife from the start. My wife suffers from Coulrophobia and it’s bad enough that she passed out the one time we took the family to the circus years ago. Since then, we’ve made it a point to avoid events, television shows, and other items where we knew there would be clowns.
So now that some knuckleheads think it is funny to dress up and “scare” people in good “fun”, I have something new to be concerned about. A few nights ago, my greatest fear and hers came to light. This includes the PTSD outcome no one wants to talk about.
My wife had just pulled into the driveway of our home. We live at the end of a cul de sac and there is a dark field near us. It’s never been a major issue, living in a small town it cuts off to the woods and the most we ever see are kids cutting through them.
As she exited the car, she recalls looking off to the right to see a glowing green light. It caught her off guard and she focused her attention. She noticed glow sticks in the autumn night and then realized they were held by a gloved hand.
The Joker in the Woods
As she mentioned, the rest was in slow motion as her eyes scanned along the brightly colored fabric. She didn’t have to see the face to know in her heart what is was. The tightness in her chest as she struggled to breathe. The world began to swirl as she fell to her knees. While the joker in the woods was playing the creepy clown, my wife was having a panic disorder and there was no one to save her. He claims he came closer to her as he saw her collapse as he wanted to make sure she was okay. But the sight of the grisly clown approaching her rocked her to the core and she could only struggle to scream and clawed frantically when he bent near her. The social anxiety symptoms she was facing at this point felt like a heart attack as she thought back to the very moment this took place. He offered her his hand to help her up and she blacked out. He claimed her mood swings went from hysterics to anger and rage, telling him to go away. He did call an ambulance for her and then I found her in the emergency room to learn she was having a severe case of panic disorder.
Knowing she had social anxiety symptoms due to her previous experience with a clown, this came as no surprise to me. While the jerk managed to do the right thing in the aftermath, the damage was already done. Something people don’t realize that a moment of fear for someone can continue for a lifetime.
Coulrophobia is No Laughing Matter
Yes, it is fun to have a little holiday fun with some minor scares with people you know. But Coulrophobia is a serious condition and in my wife’s class, the knucklehead was lucky that she didn’t have more serious health complications that were the result of it. The PTSD she did experience is requiring her to go to therapy to work through this. She has to wait for me to get home now to help her out of the car and to take her past the field where she saw the clown.
Her therapist has recommended CBT therapy. We are going through small goals to get her back to the point where she can handle living her life again. Without having social anxiety symptoms when something moves in the darkness, or having mood swings from her panic disorder when the fight or flight kicks in.
If you’ve experienced an encounter with a creepy clown, don’t let it control your life. These jerks are trying to get a rise out of us for their humor. At the same time, it is important to realize there are real mental health concerns associated with this that go beyond having a few laughs and the PTSD can stay with a person for a lifetime. Fear of a creepy clown is surprisingly common among adults.