Some people have fears of things they can come across in every day life. Speaking in public, flying, spiders, heights, lifts, escalators, lightening, clowns, cotton wool, open water etc. Others are scared of things they have never come across or experienced. Sharks, being buried alive, enclosed spaces, pirates etc. Some of these fears seem fair enough, we can all see that being buried alive would not be a good thing. The fear here is justified. It’s something that could kill you, so a fight or flight response could potentially save you as the soil was coming down. But some other fears seem totally irrational.
I have a phobia of needles. When I say this to most people they react with “I don’t like them either. You just have to look away”. If you can just look away and go ahead then trust me- that is not a fear of yours. Simply an inconvenience. Let me explain.
I have a rational brain. I know that an injection won’t hurt. That it won’t last long. It is a good thing, and they save lives every day. I know that from when I walk into that nurses room I’ll be walking out again in less than 5 minutes, fine.
I go through this to myself in the days before an appointment whenever I find myself thinking about it. The waiting room is nothing to be scared of. Talking with the nurse when you go in is nothing to be scared of. The only time you should feel fear is those few seconds before it goes in. That’s the only point in the journey that you’re actually scared of what’s happening.
Fear takes over
But then it comes to the time to go. Something inside me starts shutting down. My rational thoughts can no longer surface, they’re drowned and gone. All thought processes now are saying I don’t have to go in. I could run away. If I just keep saying I’m too scared they’ll let me go. And then the power of speech leaves me and I can do nothing but cry. I remember going to get a wisdom tooth removed and when the nurse asked my name to sign me in I responded by bursting into tears. It was all I could do.
Another time I was due for an operation and walking down to the preparation room the nurse asked if I’d had an operation before. In my head I responded “No, this is my first time”. In reality my brain told me to say this, but nothing responded. I just turned and looked at her. Her reaction “Oh”. Fair play to her though she then started singing Like a Virgin to try and help.
I’ve had occasions where my blood stopped flowing due to my breathing. My hyperventilating made my body think it was in actual danger. It started cutting off my extremities to save the core. All feeling in my arms and legs was gone. I was left hearing a nurse telling me to keep my eyes open as they were determined to roll back and let me pass out.
It’s basically like being possessed. Even at the time- you know you’re being ridiculous, and you’re aware of yourself so can feel the total embarrassment. You feel pathetic. Like a child. People will surround you with an attitude of “Just do it, then it’s done”. But doing anything when your body is shutting down is pretty difficult. It’s not logic you’re dealing with anymore.
And that’s the difference between fear and phobia I think. Fear you can get through with rational thought. Phobia engulfs you. It’s a terrifying thing, that amount of fear. If you have never felt this it can be difficult to try and understand. All I would say is please don’t treat someone like an idiot because they can’t do something you think is so easy. They already feel bad enough.
Some things that may help if you have a phobia: