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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Do you have a phobia?

Do you have a phobia? This is crazy/embarrassing, but I...

...haven't ridden the subway in ten years. And I live in Manhattan.

As long-time readers know, I'm very claustrophobic and have a phobia of elevators and subways. I've had panic attacks on the subway and even thinking about it makes me shaky. In the past, I could avoid subways relatively easily because we lived in downtown Manhattan, so we were central enough to walk or bike most places. I worked from home, so I didn't have to commute to work. When I needed to travel farther, I took the bus or biked all the way or splurged on cabs or (often) decided not to go. Alex always said I didn't realize how much I shaped my life so that I didn't have to take the train, which I now realize is true. But now that we're moving to Brooklyn and have two children, I have to get over it.

My sweet friend Gemma made a plan of attack: We're going to go out for drinks, then ride the subway, have another drink and ride it home. We will see how it goes! I would love to write about the process on the blog so that you will hold me to it. :)

Do you have a phobia? I asked some lovely women I know, and they revealed their irrational fears...

"I have a fear of being grabbed by my ankles. It's so random! I do weird things, like check over my shoulder obsessively when I'm walking up a long staircase and jump into my bed from a distance (in case someone is underneath). My brothers used to mess with me and grab my ankles when we were kids, and it would cause a complete meltdown. Sometimes when I hear scary stories or see something scary in a movie, my ankles get scared and I have to cross them for protection!" —Reagan

"Milk. I know. I babysit on evenings and weekends, so I have to deal with milk all the time, but I hate it. When I have kids of my own, I'm planning to breastfeed but just not look down." —Gina

"Caterpillars. Horribly, horribly phobic. Any kind...from inchworms to the wooly ones to the spiky ones. Mostly I run as fast and far away as possible. Like, I irrationally break into a sprint. As a kid, I used to avoid walking under trees because I thought they'd fall on me." —Youngna

"I'm terrified of other people's spit. I think it's the grossest thing ever. For as long as I can remember, I haven't been able to share a drink with anyone, not even from a straw. I imagine their spit germs multiplying in the beverage, doing a little celebratory dance like cartoon sea monkeys released into the sea. If someone takes a sip from my drink, I don't want to offend them, so I quietly put it down and never pick it up again. (Yes, somehow, I am still okay with kissing.)" —Caroline

"Spiders. Even drawings of spiders make me feel panicky. Once I was reading the New Yorker, and there was an insurance ad with a photo of a spider. I completely freaked out. Now, before reading any magazines, I make my husband go through them and 'de-spider' them." —Cheryl

"I HATE (slash won't do it slash have a legit panic attack) driving across bridges. I'm fine with anyone else driving, but I myself can't drive over them. I hate that there's no shoulder, I can't stop or pull over, etc. It's more the lack of exit options than the height (as I feel the same way about crowded interstates). It's awful. If I'm driving and approach a bridge, I pull over, get yelled at by my husband that I pulled over, then make him drive across. Or, more often, I just opt not to drive places." —Sarah

"I have trypophobia [ed. note: don't google it!]: fear of closely clustered porous circles. I usually see them in nature documentaries, at museums, or occasionally on food (like really seedy strawberries). I'm not afraid of regular circles, but closely gathered circles that look like pores. It makes me super physically uncomfortable and itchy. Thinking about it literally sends shivers up my spine." —Kate

"I used to be very phobic of riding the elevator by myself. I could do it if someone else was in the elevator, but not alone. So I'd get in the elevator and wait to see what floors the other people pressed, and then I'd just get off at the floor closest to the floor I was going to and take the stairs the rest of the way. A few times I told complete strangers about my fear and asked them to ride the elevator with me. People were always very nice. It was during a very anxious time in my life; phobias were an extension of the general anxiety I was feeling. They lasted for about two years before they went away, and now I have no phobias at all. —Lina

"Nightmares about snakes are some of my earliest memories. The skinnier the snake, the scarier. I'd rather be in a room with a python than with a garden snake. I encountered many snakes growing up in Mississippi, in the garage, on the patio, in the lake. Mississippi is a very snake-y place. I am terrified of a freshwater's edge. I never step in uncut grass, even in someone's yard, without shoes. I'm always on the lookout for areas where a snake could be when I'm outdoors. I've NEVER felt so TOTALLY FREE in the outdoors as when I was in Hawaii because they have NO SNAKES!!! I swam in the natural pools and tromped through the bamboo forests. It was glorious." —Jessi

Do you have a phobia? Public speaking? Heights? Something super random? Spill the beans below...xoxo

P.S. How to get over a fear of flying, and the scariest elevator story ever.

(Illustration by Adrian Tomine)

300 comments:

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aemiiyipee said...

Oh my goodness! I made a mistake and goggle Trypophobia! I have phobia with bed bug. I had bed bug invasion on my bed before and it stuck with me since then. I have a routine of looking for them every week, just in case they decided to return.

aemiiyipee said...

Oh my goodness! I made a mistake and goggle Trypophobia! I have phobia with bed bug. I had bed bug invasion on my bed before and it stuck with me since then. I have a routine of looking for them every week, just in case they decided to return.

Miss Mel said...

Necks! I have a totally irrational fear of necks! I absolutely cringe whenever someone touches their own neck and I freak out if anyone ever touches mine. (Even thinking about it while typing this out is making me cringe!) It's crazy!

Tess said...

when I lived in Brooklyn I was having a lot of anxiety problems due to chronic GI illness-- which often led to panic specifically on the subway because being stuck in a subway + stomach problems... yeah, not good! I found it SO much easier to take the subway on cooler days because the air in the station while waiting didn't feel as oppressive/claustrophobic. Maybe when you start practicing riding the subway, pick gorgeous, cool days so you feel happy and refreshed, not sweaty and humid and waiting for the train to come! xx

Lauren Burkitt said...

I loved reading this post and all the comments! Makes me feel a little more sane :) I've had a phobia of vomiting for as long as I can remember. Myself or others. Airplanes are an absolute nightmare, I used to sit there and close my eyes and plug my ears just incase anyone got sick in rows close to me. Public washrooms (especially in places where large amounts of alcohol are consumed)….never.

Sally Cage said...

Yes! I have two weird phobias.

1) Worms, slugs, snails, maggots, larvae - anything alive and worm/slug-like with no structure to its body. I absolutely freak out if I see any of these in real life, I get sweaty palms and a racing heart even thinking about it. If I actually see one of these critters though, different story. Screaming, crying, panicking, running away!!!! :(

2) Paper cuts. I have in some ways overcome this fear over the years, but I used to avoid touching paper at all costs (actually really hard!! especially as I worked in offices, advertising agencies etc) and just thinking about it makes me need to cover my hands immediately (like pull my arms into long sleeves or wrap them in my shirt or dress fabric). It used to be REALLY bad, where I would think of them for no reason and would basically have a mini psychotic episode where I couldn't think of anything else and it felt like I was getting electric shocks from pain :( I was so afraid of paper cuts for so many years that no only did I avoid paper, but I avoided ever telling anyone my phobia, as I was too afraid that people would say the word paper cut over and over again (as even the word makes me freak out) or that someone would try to give me one to be silly. So awful!!!!

I know they are both irrational things to worry about on a daily basis but I seemed to have no control over them for so long. One thing that has helped me A LOT is a thing which in Australia is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), where you try to reprogram your brain to think calming/positive/in control thoughts in place of anxious/negative/out of control thoughts. I think it's really powerful tool against any kind of anxiety!

jennyg said...

Balloons! They are lovely to look at but make me incredibly anxious for fear that they will pop. Crazy!

Meagan said...

Hi. Long time listener, first time caller. Here's the great thing about living in Brooklyn...once you're settled, you won't be heading to Manhattan unless you HAVE to. We moved to Bk in 2003 and NEVER looked back. Two kids and a full, wonderful life in Brooklyn...it's how the world works. Congrats on making a fantastic decision.

Lindsay Marie said...

Driving on roads where there are cliffs close, even if just like 10 feet. If someone else is driving, I pretty much freak. I have nightmares of being stuck on a bus or in someones car where they are driving along a very steep cliff way up high. I am scared of heights.When near them, I feel like I am a magnet that is drawn to the edge. Also, Tsunamis and spiders.

spicedchristea said...

I have an awful fear of finding my dog passed away! I found my husbands otherwise healthy dog had died suddenly and unexpectedly one night, and even though the chances of that same situation happening again is so rare, I still wake up randomly in the middle of the night to check that the dog is still breathing, shake him awake from naps and race up the stairs after work to see him. My poor dog is probably so sick of me!!!!

Katie Gorman said...

I've recently developed this weird reaction to public speaking. I get an overwhelming head rush - just a head full of white noise - and breathless speaking. I'm an Urban Planner and my job consists of constant public speaking - at least six Commission meetings a month for the past 12 years. One day, I stood up at City Council and was barely able to continue. After a few more anxiety ridden, head rushing, breathless meetings, I went to the doctor for help. Now I take beta blockers before every meeting. They are a Godsend. Oddly - my previously debilitating fear of flying has dissipated as my public speaking fear has increased. Sigh - head sick.

Tracy said...

I have a serious phobia of calling people I don't know. My husband thinks its ridiculous (and often makes the call for me) but I totally panic, have sweaty palms, and rapid heartbeat.. Unknown people include the doctor's office (ugh! The worst calls I have to make), a restaurant to make a reservation, the pizza place for delivery, etc. I have to psyche myself up for it and sometimes it takes me a few days to finally do it. Once I'm actually having a conversation though I feel better about it. Always relieved to finally hang up.

julie said...

Horrible phobia of clusters, circles, pores, bumps ....
Saw a large oak tree once completed riddled with pore-like circle/holes that birds had pecked/poked and hidden oak nuts in and they were sticking out of the holes. It was horrible. Skin crawling horrible and yet I was compelled to stare and couldn't stop. There is a you tube video of a vet removing tons of bot flies from monkeys's neck that my daughter showed me and it almost sent me into the stratosphere and yet I couldn't look away. Bizarre I know.

Sima said...

I have social anxiety disorder... It was kind of okay when I was younger and in high school... But now that I am at university in different country... It has been 5 years and it is still horrible... Now I am going to the new university in another town and I am absolutely terrified! Only person that I am able to talk with is my boyfriend... when I have to interact with other people I have to have him with me. I haven´t been to a party in such a long time. I am working in my company for over in year and I haven´t talked to anybody...

Kalap said...

Oh my days I've never even heard the word trypophobia before but I have it! I've never found anyone who gets what I mean before when I try to explain it. Weird things freak me out, like I love to eat crumpets but I have to eat them without biting any of the top layer off. (If you bite a bit of the top layer off the bit left underneath is horribly 'pore-like' in appearance! :-s) Good to hear it's not just me!

Lauren @ Lot Forty Eight said...

Kate and Jessi I have those phobias too!!!!

Elena Hauser said...

I can´t go into huge cathedrals or any other big halls where the ceiling is unreasonably high. I get panic attacks and feel like I faint immediately. How terrible is that if you visit Barcelona and can´t go in the sacrada familia? or in Versailles in the hall of mirrors. Makes me so sad because I don´t know what this comes from and how to fight it. :-(

Chelsea said...

I've been terrified of bears for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a kid, I've had nightmares where I'm attacked by a bear. I used to be terrified of walking from the bus stop to my house, so much that I would try to make as much noise as possible to scare away any potential bears along the way. I grew up in Ohio, so it was really irrational. As an adult I've refused to go anywhere that might have bears... up until my recent honeymoon where I *bravely* went to Yosemite for part of our trip throughout California. I was sure I was going to be mauled by a bear. But I insisted on going on the shortest and most popular trails and NO CAMPING. I didn't see any bears, but I do think it was a huge step in overcoming my phobia. Good luck, Joanna!

Lisa said...

Trypophobia for me too - sheesh who knew it was so popular!

Since I was little I've always been freaked out by stuff like that - close up of fish scales or anything clustered used to make me so sick and dizzy.

Only found out the correct word for it a few years ago.

Gaaah even thinking about it makes me ill!! x

Jody Winter said...

No phobias at all! I am really lucky after reading all of this.

Ana Simões said...

Like most people here, I'm afraid of being grabbed by the ankles and of the dark downstairs.

But my real phobia is being in the crowd- no concerts or festivals for me, no football matches, no big new year's parties, as I learned the hard way. I can't breathe, I have to leave, no matter how many people have to step on to make it. My palms break in a sweat the second I think about heading anywhere where I will stand with more than 20 people. It sucks, actually.

Barbiekayle said...

I have a phobia of feet, I don't like people touching my feet, I don't like looking at other peoples and I don't like talking about them. I don't like looking down incase people aren't wearing socks or they have sandals/ flip flops on. My husband has to keep his feet at a distance in bed! and wear socks/ slippers around the house! ha

I can touch my goddaughters feet she is turning 1 tomorrow, I am wondering how long it will last because they are so small and perfect.

I think its when they are horrible looking etc..... cant type anymore feeling sick!

I don't like swimming because people get too close and I cant see if they are going to accidently touch me in the water.

You would not believe how much they are on telly or in films though! I have to look away and cover my ears when they are on as it makes me feel sick! ha my husband still asks, what are you doing and then says 'Oh!' when he realises they are on telly!

Hope you conquer your fear, there are a couple of councillors that are on telly in the UK called the speakmans that are helping people overcome their phobias, you might be able to find it on youtube xx

Speckled With Freckles said...

I suffer from Ligyrophobia (or a fear of loud noises). Most specifically my fear centers around random or sudden loud noises. I hate thunderstorms and fireworks (some of the most prettiest wonders to watch) because of the sound delay and not knowing when the boom will occur. This also tags along with my globophobia (or fear of balloons) because I'm afraid they will pop at any second.

Laura said...

you're so brave & we're all rooting for you!

Marta Fontanals de Olano said...

Blood... it makes me so so so incredibly sick, not just the sight of it, but that nauseating smell... Apparently most people can't notice, but for me it's the grossest thing ever, and I frequently black out, even if it's someone else's blood or just a tiny little cut.

I also have this weird irrational fear when I come home late at night that some psycho is hiding in my elevator, or even worse, that he's already killed someone and the minute I open the door I will find him with a dead corpse at his feet... So I naturally take the stairs, and sing to calm myself down (plus I tone my legs in the process, so not that bad!).

Oh, and navels. I don't really like them, but what I absolutely hate is someone touching mine, even if it's just a light caress, I have the feeling that somehow the knot is going to be magically undone... My boyfriends still jokes about how the first times we were together, whenever he was approaching the area I'd scream as if it were radioactive "DON'T TOUCH IT!!!!!", so embarrassing... ;)

Anyway, I'm sure you'll overcome your fear really soon, Joanna, and your friend Gemma's idea looks pretty funny, so good luck!! And thank you for posting about this!

liveloudcoaching said...

trypophobia - I didn't know there was a name for that!!! I feel the same. I can't cut a full bulb of garlic or look at honey combs because the look gives me the heeby geebies!

Ana DeStefano said...

Hotel carpets and their fuzzy blankets also.
I can't. I can't. Hate them!!!

Amanda Rose Zampelli said...

This article helped me in coping with my phobia, and I thought it relevant:

http://thoughtcatalog.com/amy-seder/2011/05/how-to-have-a-phobia/

Carolyn said...

Hope that plan works for you! If it doesn't, and you want some outside help getting comfortable with the subway, the good news is that phobias and panic attacks are very treatable. (As someone in the field, I'd look for someone with behavioral or cognitive behavioral experience for those particular challenges). But hopefully you'll be rocking it out on the subway with your friend in no time. Good luck!

moseyblog said...

The dark and also driving on highways. The dark I'm getting over - the driving on highways takes a lot more work to get over. I basically try not to drive anywhere and that's why I live in the city, so I can take the safe subway anywhere :)

Monica E. said...

I am so glad you posted about phobias because though I know I'm not alone, sometimes it really feels like I am!

As far back as I can remember, I've had a phobia about throwing up. Apparently it's called emetophobia and a lot of people have it. I will do almost anything to avoid doing it and when I see it in movies or in real life I feel really scared and depressed. One time when I was a teenager, I was on vacation in Phuket (Thailand) with my family and some family friends, and we had to take a ferry ride to another island and the weather was horrible so the ferry ride was very rocky. Everyone around me started getting sick and the ferry operators started handing out barf bags. Luckily I had a whole row of seats to myself and I curled up into a ball with my hands over my ears, eyes closed and had to keep repeating I was ok in my mind for the entire ride!!

Growing up, this phobia never really got in the way of my life, but in recent years it's gotten much worse and has turned into a fear of anything to do with embarrassing bodily functions such as bowel problems and dizziness, especially if it were to happen in public. I think at the root of it all, I'm intensely afraid of a) being embarrassed in this way, and b) fear of losing control. In recent months I've become so anxious that I have become somewhat agoraphobic and it is really affecting my life. I hate it so much!

I bought a book on Amazon called, 'The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook,' and it has really helped me to understand exactly what is going on with my body when I have anxiety and panic attacks related to this phobia and has a lot of techniques you can use to help with your fears. I wish I could find a great Psychologist/Psychiatrist who could help me with this problem in conjunction with reading the book but so far I haven't found one yet. The ones I've been to immediately want to put me on an antidepressant which I refuse to take. UGH!!

I hope you can get over your claustrophobia and I hope someday I can get over mine too. Good luck to us all!! :)

Nicole Lam said...

Mine is spiders as well. When we moved into our house 10 years ago, it was not well-maintained and we were INFESTED, I mean, think Arachnophobia (the movie)- infested - with Brown Recluse. I remember standing stock-still in our the middle of our basement while the pest woman was exploring seeing how bad we had it. She'd shine her flashlight and call out, "yep, here's more - they're all alive" and I. could not. move. Then I ran upstairs, called my then-fiancé and was almost crying with the news that we had it so, so bad - one of the worst she'd ever seen. I had so many bad encounters with them (one time there was one on my face towel and I almost put it right on my face after I was done washing. Luckily I happened to look down and saw it and threw the towel and spider in the sink and killed it), it's amazing neither one of us was ever bit. Because of that, my used-to-be-normal fear of them became almost paralyzing, so-much-so that when I see one (yes, we still have them but not as bad), I freeze and scream and my wonderful husband comes running in and will kill it. Then I shimmy and shake in a weird little dance for the next 5 minutes because I think they're all over me.

OH my gosh, I just read Kaylee Ann's response about the egg sacks! I probably would've died. Actually, I know I would've. Great, now I feel the dance coming on...

Brooklynbee said...

I saw that someone above just posted about her emetophobia - I have that too! I'm also claustrophobic and a bit of a germophobe. I lived in Brooklyn for 10 years and rode the subway every day - I could usually deal with it if it wasn't too crowded, but I definitely had panic attacks on crowded cars sometimes. If it was bad, I would usually just get off and take a different train. Joanna, I would recommend getting an RX for an anti-anxiety drug (like Ativan) for when you do ride the train. Sometimes just knowing you CAN take the drug will make you feel better. If you really freak out, you can take an Ativan on the subway and it will help you calm down.

Laura said...

As a kid I had a major fear of the weather. If it was raining I was afraid we would die of a flood. If it was snowing, death by blizzard. If it was sunny I thought we would have a drought. I don't know where it came from because I don't have it at all anymore as an adult but I remember bursting out in tears when I was in 4th grade because it was raining and I thought we would die of a flood. The teacher had to pull me out of the room and I had to explain my issue. I remember feeling very embarrassed. I think part of it stemmed from my dad. He was ALWAYS watching the weather channel and say things like, "wow, we could really use the rain" or "it's been raining a lot the past few days; hope it lets up soon". His comments would put me in an instant panic of death by weather. Very weird. Thankfully I don't have it anymore. I do hate seeing hair in food...totally grosses me out.

Nicole González said...

I am a very anxious person, sometimes having panic attacks when I'm really stressed out. I've been working really hard to get over my phobias, which are very crowded places and when people are talking really loud. My own voice is mellow so I guess I'm not used to loud noises. When I first started seeing my boyfriend, the thing I liked the most about him was his soft voice (still one of the things I adore about him now :).

Lou Lou B said...

I am irrationally terrified of ladders. Step stools, fine. Ladders.. cant even look at them! Also misphonia/misokinesia- I work in an environment with a noise machine, so that helps a lot! But my husband thinks I'm bananas because we will be sitting there watching tv or eating dinner and he will absentmindedly rub my leg and and I freak out and have to remind him "NO REPETITIVE MOTIONS!"

Jennifer Beaudet said...

I think I have the worse one of all! I have social phobias which makes it very difficult to do anything sometimes. I get panic attacks and just general anxiety when I'm around small groups of people. I never know when it's going to happen but it's something I'm trying to get over because being an artist, it's hard to get around. I've been putting off doing a show in a gallery because of it.
It's fun to read everyone's comments! Good luck on the subway! Have a great weekend:) Jen

leilani. said...

I totally understand the ankle one! I always think someone is hiding under my car and is going to grab my ankles!!

Keely Hardaway said...

So many things make my skin crawl... but the three that really gives me panic attacks are skin rashes, hard shelled bugs, and the POST OFFICE. I cannot even drop off a letter or mail a package without bursting into tears and hyperventilating.

Can't wait to hear about your subway adventure!

Kathleen Marie said...

I am terrified of chickens. It is horrible and irrational-I know they are quite friendly and I would love to have a chicken coop, but I just can't. I was frightened by a child walking through the chicken barn at our county fair and have horrid nightmares to this day about chickens being in our house (under my pillow no less)! It's ridiculous!

Atom Salad said...

"Dr. Fear" gets high marks out here in the Bay Area (Calif.) area. See his website http://angelnet.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=A&Category_Code=CAPAOWDHLX

and recommendations at http://parents.berkeley.edu/recommend/therapy/liebgold.html

(I'm not related in any way!)

Best wishes!

fae ehsan said...

ah! moths and rollercoaster. will legitimately hyperventilate.

Meadow said...

@Gardenella: Sign up for Toastmasters. I would worry about presentations MONTHS in advance... when I was in school I would even drop classes that involved presenting. I was terrified, basically. I also used to blush really bad... the whole nine yards. Toastmasters helped me a great deal. They have clubs in most cities around the world. It really helped me get some confidence when my job started demanding I do presentations and train people. I've been doing it for over 4 years now, and I still don't enjoy public speaking, but it no longer terrifies me.

Brittibooboo said...

I have an insanely crippling fear of throw up. I have bad dreams about it weekly. I stress whenever I'm in a vehicle with people who I think are unpredictable and might throw up. When I ride planes, subways, and especially buses I turn my music up really loud and try not to look around- but still somehow manage to freak out and think that everyone around me is probably throwing up. I can vividly remember every time I have thrown up or someone around me has thrown up and once I start thinking about it every single scene plays in my mind over and over again. Public restrooms freak me out. And any time anyone coughs I get tense.

Lizzie said...

I also get panic attacks and the subway stopping is a big trigger. Isn't it ridiculous when you live with anxiety/panic attacks you get even more anxious worrying that you might potentially have a panic attack!? Anyway, I live in Brooklyn too. I have found that along with internal mantras (you are going to be okay, the train will move again, if it doesn't they will open the doors and you can walk the rest of the way), having a bottle of water in my purse ALWAYS makes me feel better. It's odd but whenever I get stuck I start to think about how thirsty I am. If I have the water I automatically feel more comfortable. It's an odd comfort which makes a huge difference. Maybe you will notice something like this for you when you are testing out the subway. Finally - there are going to be times you are truly tested but if you can make it through those times you will feel so much better if it happens again (the mantra changes to: you've had this happen before and everything was fine, everything will be fine this time too). Good luck - bring relaxing music and book!

kaela said...

FISH. *gag* I think there's some subconscious psychology behind this as I had a couple of encounters with almost drowning in lakes.. I don't remember being afraid of fish before that. It's odd and completely irrational. They aren't going to do anything to me but I can't even handle the thought. I don't eat them, I hate the smell, but mostly I hate them in open water. ;a;ksdjf;alksjdf Someday I will go to one of those beaches with clear turquoise water and no fish and I will be able to swim without anxiety!!! hahahaha.. Until then, seeing people even post catches from fishing trip pictures on Facebook is disgusting.

Maywyn Studio said...

Ditto on the emetophobia for most of my life until I developed a food allergy. I now know what its like to serious want to throw up. The other was looking a cemeteries at night, (they are there thing). Late in adult life, that faded to can't be in a cemetery at night. Its going to be rough when I'm buried.

Carolyn said...

Emetephobia! For as long as I can remember, I have had a paralyzing fear of vomit. The severity of the phobia changes every year it seems, but I am more afraid of people throwing up around me in enclosed spaces (cars, subway, planes) than anything. Almost every aspect of my life is affected by it.

Living in Manhattan, this is a huge challenge navigating subways/buses/drunk people everywhere. Flying is an absolute nightmare, worrying about turbulence that might make me, or worse, those around me sick. I take Klonopin for flights and it has made it possible for me to travel, but it is still terrifying.

To make things worse, my boyfriend is prone to motion sickness, particularly on planes. We joke that he is my exposure therapy. I can't wait to have kids, but am terrified of how I'll react when they get sick!

Good luck, Joanna! I have to give myself pep talks every day when I get on the subway, and it really does get easier. Just take the local train so you can get off whenever you need to, music helps tremendously, books and any kind of distraction is a good idea. Life in Brooklyn will be so worth it! Treat yourself to cocktails and the amazing bar snacks at Buttermilk Channel after you successfully ride the subway!

Sharol Flo said...

I have so many phobias... I'll just name a few of the easier to explain.

Spiders. I don't let my kids even talk about them around me.

Bears. Living out west and going camping a lot as a kid I was afraid of hiking because I was sure we'd come upon a bear and it would maul me. I remember staying in the car while the rest of my family hiked. When I took my own family to Yellowstone a couple of summers ago I obsessively read up on bear safety and taught it to my kids. We saw a grizzly from our car just hours after entering the park. Guess who did not sleep well that night?

Phones. I used to work in call centers in college and had a couple of jobs as a receptionist, answering phones. I don't know how I did it. I get anxiety over calling people, especially. I would much rather speak to a person face to face.

Ashley Allen said...

Ahhh! Holy moly! I wish I hadn't googled trypophpbia. Yikes!

Abigail said...

First of all - you can do it! Would love to hear all about you facing down this phobia!

Second, phobias. I have two. The first I feel is somewhat rational and unpleasant for almost everyone, but the second is definitely weird. First, getting blood drawn. I'm fine with needles and blood, but when blood comes out of me via a needle I lose my shit. I was going to try to explain it, but I get all worked up just thinking about it. The first time I ever had to have it done, it took 5 nurses and my mother to hold me down. I was 8.

Annnd, I'm terrified that I'll be in the shower and the lights will go out/having to shower in the dark. I have NO idea where this comes from. But I definitely try to avoid showering at night, and I still turn the lights on even in the day.

samantha geary said...

Heights! I am completely panic-stricken even in the upper levels of a tall building. Or thinking about being in there. I can't imagine living in NYC. I'm also claustrophobic too and would have a really hard time with the subway as well. Airplanes are the worst!

JB said...

I understand the awful feeling of shaping your life around your fear. I've had social anxiety for 10 years, pretty much all of my 20s. I will never know how my life would've turned out had I not been so terrified and having and avoiding panic attacks. That's pretty much what life is about when you have that kind of phobia. So, my advice is: take it on! Go try riding the subway with your friend, and find out what's on the other side of that panic. Although I haven't beat my fear yet, when I feel brave enough, I find that a panic attack won't kill me, even if it feels like it might. Once it's gone and I went a little bit further than last time, it feels great. Good luck!

Emily said...

This is so bizarre and irrational, but I have a fear of drive-through banks. I WILL NOT GO THROUGH ONE! I can go through drive-through restaurants but not a bank. Something about the drawers and tubes and voices speaking without a head just petrifies me!

Amanda said...

Trypophobia for sure, though I like to think of it as more an EXTREME aversion, rather than a fear as I'm not actually afraid of those things. It's just makes me ABSOLUTELY SICK. As in I actually threw up after seeing the Buzzfeed article about it.

Also I'm super afraid of fish in bodies of whatever in which I am swimming. I'm not afraid of fish in tanks or aquariums, but lord, if I am IN a lake and I see a fish anywhere in my vicinity, I absolutely FREAK.

itsamiraclexo said...

Iam PETRIFIED of lady birds. Or any creepy crawlers for that matter. They give me nightmares!!!

Pati said...

Hi Joanna! Though I wouldn't consider myself for having a phobia, I can find myself quite uncomfortable in spaces like subway stations especially when the weather is warm, but I have found out that taking sips of water when I'm becoming anxious somehow calms me down. It's the closest thing to fresh air. Good luck!

Cheryl B said...

Jillian, the deer-phobe: I know phobias are irrational, but seriously, if it makes you feel any better, deer will totally not trample you! Deer see much better in darkness, so when headlights create a sudden, intense light, it causes their brains to sort of shut down! They literally won't move because the light hurts their eyes/head so much. :)

Alice said...

Flour. The idea of picking up a bag of it makes me queasy and I have to leave the room if it's out but even then I know it's there, nearby, and it's revolting. Cocoa powder too. It's textural, but there's a noise as well. I'm dizzy and shivering out just thinking about it.

I did suffer from a handful of panic attacks some years ago, always in busy places, but because of something else. In the end mindfulness and breathing helped me overcome them. And changing the situation causing them. And the odd soothing old fashioned.

Good luck! Even if you don't use the subway much in future, knowing you can will make you proud.

How I Roll said...

You can do it! You'll be so happy once you're free from your fear.

I had emetophobia for most of my life, but I'm like 85% better after five years of therapy and two short but vomitous pregnancies.

I've always hated having fear and anxiety and became determined to overcome both before I have kids. I may never have kids, but I'm still pretty proud of myself for sticking with therapy and being dedicated to a tranquil, fear-free life.

Elle said...

Hee hee..this is such a funny topic. Mine is UPC codes, the irregular stripes on the label of nearly every product as well as in a few unexpected places like cardboard packing boxes, etc..I must turn the label away so that it doesn't show. For some reason, lip balm always rolls to face UPC-side up, super freaky and irritating. Makes me so uncomfortable. Also, can not leave hair from my hairbrush where anyone might find it, (so I always flush it), after watching a weird movie about voodoo as a child. Scarred me for life...

Katie said...

Thanks for writing this. I feel like no one ever openly talks about phobias so I always feel like such a weirdo. (For me, it's flying. I fly for work/live abroad/love to travel internationally so clearly I never totally cut it out. But seriously, the strongest measure of how much I liked someone was always whether I would pull myself together to fly to their wedding. I am doing a lot better now with medication though.)

RuineMarie said...

My fear is sleeping with the door open, My door and closet have to be closed or, I will not sleep!!! I have the fear of that because when I was a little girl, the door was open, and I couldn't sleep, so I have stared at the open space, and a faded image of a human man, came through the door, pointing at me to come to it/him. I am not a believer of ghost, but what ever I saw, made me be extra careful about sleeping with an unclosed door. I had this fear for 14 years

thisistopa said...

Thank you for this great post, Joanna. I have some fears as well but the most weird ones are that I am freaking out when I hear the theme song from Once upon a time in the West by Ennio Morricone and when I see the German singer Achim Menzel on TV (I find him gross, don't know why, cause he seems nice). Both are childhood nightmares that I kept. But I learned that a phobia is not related to the actual thing someone is phobic about but related to the circumstances that happenend and emotions that were experienced at that time in the past while someone e. g. coincedently saw a spider. All the best for you and good luck for your first subway ride! :-)

Shraven said...

Spiders. Good news is that it's somehow getting better. Just to the state that I don't freak out too obviously when I see a drawing of spider - but it's still something :) Weird thing is that I'm absolutely sure when my arachnophobia had commenced. It was a dream about gigantic sand spiders (and I mean GIGANTIC = as big as a car). One day I wasn't afraid of spiders at all and another day I couldn't see them even on a picture...

Bethany Susan said...

This is so interesting!

I have always been terrified of HAIR!

Any hair that is not attached to a person.

FREAKS ME OUT. GET IT AWAY. GROSS.

Which is funny, considering I went to school to become a hairstylist. Freshly cut hair is exempt from my fear, for some odd reason. Hair left behind in a comb, brush, on a sink? FORGEDDABOUTIT. *shudder*

Daoud Snock said...

Spiders, since forever.

MIlk, since I was obliged to drink milk fresh from the cow as a child. Gross, smelly, yuk. I didn't breastfeed, the idea of producing milk grossed me out...!

speaking in public. I feel stupid, clumsy, terrified. That's more of a new one.

bats, hate them. There are tons where my parents live, and we see them when we eat outside at night.

That's it!
Good luck with the subway Joanna!Facing your fears is no little thing.

Paris Envy said...

I have a terrible fear of rats! I'm honestly surprised more people haven't mentioned it. I know they're around, but I always assumed I wouldn't see one. Then on my last visit to NYC as I was sitting outside a restaurant around 11 pm I saw five or six HUGE rats scrambling over trash bags just a few feet away. I had to stop myself from screaming aloud! Like an idiot I googled "rats in NYC" and increased my phobia exponentially. I have to know, how do you full-time city dwellers deal with them? Even now when I watch a movie or tv show about New York in the summer all I can think is, "There are probably rats in the gutter right next to those people!" Ridiculous!!
I also have a lot of anxiety about losing family members or my kids but I think that's pretty common.

Leafy said...

This is funny!

Like another reader, I also have 'koumpounophobia' - a fear/disgust of buttons. It is apparently quite common - I read somewhere that Steve Jobs had it!

Also, ET. Bleurgh!

Rosa said...

Fascinating to read all this. I'm glad that I'm far too rational for phobias. I grew up close to someone with a lot, and I mean a LOT of phobias, which made me decide never to be afraid of anything. When I see people's lives so affected by phobias, it always makes me a bit sad, especially when there isn't a cure.

Sobrina Tung said...

oh my goodness, caroline's response made me laugh out loud. dancing sea monkeys in the sea. hahah

Kiley Kate said...

When I was a child my mother and I were talking about how important it was to be an organ donor and suddenly she turned to me, grabbed my arm and said: "Let them take anything but my eyes!" Ever since then I have had a huge fear of something going near my eyes or having them poked out. I've always told people that if I ever had to wear contacts or get lasik I'd just wear glasses or let myself go blind. Lately it seems like every action or sci fi show needs to involve some kind of savage eye removal too, and if my boyfriend isn't there to warn me when those parts are over I have to turn the TV off really fast and cool down. I start hyperventilating and tearing up. It seems so silly when I type it out but I become so upset at the thought of something happening to them!

dudioy said...

I have trypophobia too, It's not that I'm afraid of it, I'm super disgusted, it makes me nauseous, the first time i googled it I couldn't get it out of my head spent two days nauseous! So gross!
My friends think I'm insane, such a weird phobia!

Good luck on overcoming yours!

Michiko said...

I tried to read through all of the comments to see if others had this one, because I used to think I was insane but then in Psych 101 it was listed as one of the more common phobias caused by an upsetting childhood...and it's: things moving uncontrollably in the air/wind! Just writing it gives me the heebie-jeebies! I guess it has something to do with not being able to control my environment as a kid and things moving uncontrollably in the air is a manifestation of that?! Anyways...So WIND CHIMES (OH MY LORD do those freak me out! They never stop!!!), Kites (if they are high up enough in the air, I'm okay), swings (what if they suddenly go diagonal and hit me in my swing?!), balloons when they are in a bunch and crashing into one another like e.g. if they are in the backseat of a car with a window open (specific, but terrifying!), curtains blowing in the wind, and especially light fixtures swinging from the wind. Oh man. Just writing that was really stress-inducing! (I was hoping it'd be cathartic). I think at some point I'm definitely going to need hypno-therapy or something because I've noticed it's getting worse now that I'm pregnant!

bourbonandshoes said...

Lizards and geckos! Ironic given that I live in a tropical country right smack on the equator, but I can't bear them at all.

Stephanie said...

I am terrified of lightning. I always have been. I see it (or year thunder knowing lightning is close), I start trembling. As it gets closer, I start crying. Regardless of where I am. I have no control over these feelings.
If it strikes within a couple miles, I vomit. I cannot calm myself at all. It's so terrifying! It's embarrassing to me that I react so. This has been ongoing for all 35 years of my life.

Casey said...

I have panic attacks when I drive on busy interstates and over bridges. I'm a pharmaceutical sales rep and drive 3-4 hours per day. Oh, the irony...

Nina Leung said...

I love reading these comments, it helps me feel less weird. I'm totally with you on the claustrophobia. I've had panic attacks on elevators and once on the London Tube (the round shape of the train makes the ceilings shorter). I once got on a super crowded subway where the doors literally closed a centimeter from my nose (I was SUPER late to work) and I breathed slowly and carefully and got through the 2 stops. If I can do that, you can get on a non-crowded subway. You can do it!!

Briel said...

I have emetophobia. It can be so frustrating at times because I always worry about being around people who might vomit (like when I'm on an airplane, boat ride, driving in a car with someone new, at an amusement park, at a party or bar where people are drinking, etc.) It doesn't prevent me from doing things for the most part but it is something that is always on my mind. And I'm afraid if I ever get pregnant that I'll get morning sickness. Ugh.

Shawna said...

I have a intense fear of vomiting and of choking. I always carry a bottle of water with me and I'm very stingy about sharing it: 1) Because I may not have enough in case I start choking; 2)The person who drinks from it may have germs that will make me vomit.

Nicole Capone said...

but seriously, why did i google trypophobia ? getting chills all day. like right now...again. ew!

A. Sparkle said...

Okay... Now I can tell my mom that I'm not the only one with trypophobia and that it has a name.. I googled it and immediately needed to close the screen!! Oddly enough I can use a sponge though.. I guess all holes aren't created equal..

I always have a fear of loose hair not attached to the body.. I MUST have a detachable shower head so that I can wash away all the stray hairs in the tub before using it.. I also won't go near and/or touch anything with a hair on it.. It just seems SO gross and nasty!!! And the longer the strand of hair the worse it is... Let's not even talk about clumps of wet hair or finding hair in your food!! UGH!

Ellen said...

Emetophobia here, too; I've had it since I was about 10. If my husband mentions any kind of stomach discomfort, my day/evening/week is given over to obsessing about him throwing up and me having to take care of him. Same issues with public transportation, bars/restaurants, public restrooms, etc. I love kids, but I do have the constant background thought that kids throw up at the drop of a hat. I had a great deal of anxiety about that while my husband and I were trying to have kids (we ended up not having any).

I tried cognitive behavioral therapy about 10 years ago after a particularly bad period of anxiety, but wasn't getting anything out of it (nothing short of it actually happening next to me raised my anxiety significantly; my brain just kept saying "yeah, but this isn't real. It could still really happen."), so I switched to regular talk therapy and medication for the anxiety. The talk therapy has helped me understand the root of my fear, but hasn't diminished it.

The medication has enabled me to do most things I want to do without panic. When I started, I didn't like the idea of taking medication, but then I came to realize that if I were diabetic... I'd take insulin if it helped. If I had high blood pressure... I'd take medication for that. This is no different. My brain chemistry is atypical and medication is one of the tools I have to regulate it. I can do yoga and meditate and eat healthfully and exercise regularly and get enough sleep, and STILL panic if my husband gets a stomach bug. Everyone has to make the decision for her/himself, but my experience with it has been a good one.

Iulia said...

Unfortunately yes...arachnophobia and ophidiophobia. I guess is very common to be afraid of spiders and snakes but mine goes to the next level, cannot stand seeing them not even at Zoo or TV.

Lifestyle blog, healthy recipes and myself at:
http://lifewithiulia.com

Martini said...

Lightening. And mice or rats.

The first crack of lightening and I'm in idiot mode.
My Dad was hit by lightening as a small child...on the mouth. Early 1900's. Dad was holding a donkey on a rope when he leaned in to get a drink of water from the drain pipe on the side of his house. Lightening struck the house, traveled down the pipe, hit my Dad, burned the rope and killed the donkey.
As an adult he had several disfiguring surgeries for skin cancer on his mouth.
I've told this story all my life and each time it still amazes me.
I do not fool around with lightening.

Unknown said...

I googled trypophobia. Oh god why.

lillykc said...

wow, I share a bunch of the ones mentioned, but I cant believe this one wasn't mentioned more!
centipedes- they are the worst! thousand legger demons. i literally let out a shreik every time i see one in my house and try to get someone else to kill it. they are so fast and sneaky and gross. all those legs.
also, the ocean, i love the ocean and all ocean creatures, i even love sharks. I love to snorkel, but it still terrifies me every time and i'm constantly on the look out for sharks or other scary fish. The open water- no idea what might swim across your path

and of course public speaking= clammy, sweating, shaking, terrified

nyun.yuni said...

I'm scared of blown up balloons.
Not sure where it came from. As I recall I've been afraid of balloons since I was a kid.
I can't handle the stress of thinking that the balloons might pop anytime. I get instant anxiety attack. Worse thing is, it doesn't get better with age, the older I am the more I'm scared of it, sigh..
Now every time I have to be alone around balloons, I put on my headset and turn on my music as loud as I can handle. When I'm around people I know, I just have to bear it as much as I can.

Michiko said...

@Briel: I was riding the NY subway one weekend standing by the door busily reading my book...so I didn't notice a teenager swinging around violently sick...until he vomited all over me. Chest to toe. No joke. It was mortifying. I had to walk, sopping wet in chunks into Spring street looking for a drug store to find baby wipes, then buy new clothes and then make my way home to shower and anti-bacteria-myself! Yuck!!!

Carolyn said...

Elevators. I do not use elevators. If I do, I have these horrible nightmares about elevators. I also worked in an old building in Los Angeles (well old for LA) with an elevator that did NOT work. It would randomly fall multiple floors and get stuck in between floors. Maybe it's from that...

I also don't like mirrors in the dark. Left over I guess from Bloody Mary days in grade school...

Kristina Uriegas-Reyes said...

I have a phobia of not being near a bathroom, which makes me get a "have to pee" feeling even more.

Soon L Ngoi said...

Totally get you about your upcoming 'trial run' - I just did 1 last week.

I have a totally irrational fear of tight enclosed spaces and flying, so I freak out internally when the trains get too packed (which is pretty common in my neck of the woods in Asia) or when I'm in a plane.

After reading up INTENSIVELY, and trying out really funny things like a hypnosis app, I realize the below worked a little while I was on a plane. It's all about distracting oneself - tell me if it works for you guys:

1) Download the Calm App or other similar apps. They have different exercises ranging from 2-5-10 minutes.
2) Get noise-cancelling or noise-isolation headphones so you can listen to the exercises clearly
3) Watch comedies - somehow, laughing makes everything all better
4) Breathing exercises (got this off a psychologist) - you know the moment where your palms go cold, and you start panicking, thinking you're about to hyperventilate? Breathe in deeply, hold your breath (newcomers try 5 secs, those who are used to it try 10 secs) then expel. Do it for sets of 10 to 20. You'll feel much better.

The problem with me is that I tend to swing from 1 end of the phobia to another - in the day, I feel 'Yes, I can do it! I'm going to take another flight'. Fast forward 24 hours, I feel nothing but doom and gloom, and do a mini-freak out thinking of the upcoming flight. How paralyzing :(

Danise said...

My neck being touched. I just freak out if I think someone is going to touch it.

bunnygrace said...

uh oh, you know if you say 'don't google it' that i will, and i'll wish i didn't... horrible pictures.

also, deathly afraid of moths. in summer we get them the size of your palm in the house (Australian summers) and i just can't deal with it. even if its 3am, i wake someone up to deal with it.
and peanut butter! ugh! i'm terrified it will stick to the roof of my mouth and then cement my mouth closed.

Sammi Egan said...

Other people's tissues.

Just, yuck.

Mina said...

Totally agree with Jessi, snakes make me crazy! Especially garden snakes. My fear is that they'll slither over my feet.

You can do it with the subway!

Stina Lycik said...

I really do not like calling someone on the Phone. As soon as they answer I'm fine, but until then, I sweat like a pig, afraid of..... I really don't know :-) Stupid, I know!

Kat said...

I have a phobia of losing control of bodily functions in groups! I'm CONSTANTLY worried that I'm peeing and not realizing it - even though I've never ever wet myself or had anything like that happen, and I know even if it did happen it'd be weird and embarrassing but I'd get over it. But none of that rationalizing helps! The worst part is this is totally NEW as of my last quarter of grad school, and now I'm terrified to go back for my second year in September.

I also take beta blockers to help me through public speaking/presentations because of this weird urinary fear, and they are a LIFESAVER. I would highly recommend talking to your doctor about these if you have situational/temporary/predictable anxieties!

dinaclabaugh said...

Belly buttons! For as long as I can remember I have been grossed out by seeing, touching or even hearing about belly buttons...including my own! I'm hoping to have a bebe someday and I am petrified of what mine will look like, as well as how I will care for my bebe's. Help hubby! ;) xo dina

Rachel said...

You need to do cognitive behavioral therapy!!! It is incredibly helpful for phobias, anxiety, and depression. It's the most evidence-based method of therapy, and unlike old-school talk therapy, it doesn't drag on and on for years. You're meant to do a few months of hard work with a counselor, and then you can practice the techniques on your own.

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