I have a mother who was always a fearful driver, and my oldest sister had a driving phobia so bad she eventually surrendered her license and just never drove again. My mother became a better driver, but I can’t say she ever entirely conquered her fear.
Me, after a Bad Thing Happened on an airplane flight I developed a real fear of flying. It was so bad that, the first time I had to board an airliner after the Bad Thing Happened I puked twice before I ever forced myself onto the airplane. (I’m a fear puker. I don’t wet my pants or faint or whatever - I puke. So, please, Supergoose, never sneak up behind me and yell “BOO!”) It was a loooooong flight from Chicago to Arizona.
I conquered my fear of flying by getting a pilot’s license. That’s a little extreme in a sense. I do still feel fear sometimes when flying, but now it’s things I SHOULD be afraid of and not generalized anxiety.
My only suggestion (other than the visualization thing already mentioned) is that you might need to internatlize that yes, vomiting IS disgusting, uncomfortable, and unpleasent… and it’s OK not to like that. It’s the irrational fear you want to get rid of, not the protective mechanism that makes us want to avoid vomit-situations.
I was afraid of flying for 32 years because of an unpleasant experience. Then I decided that I wanted to see Paris or die trying. It took several months to plan the trip and my granddaughter went with me. Maybe the medication that I’m on made the difference, but I was too excited to become afraid. I experienced absolutely no anxiety at all and I don’t really know why.
Maybe it’s because I feel more powerful in my old age.
Phobias are not something that you can take a rational approach to. It’s not a matter of thinking things out.
Checking my notes when I was there – Parliament Street station. Quoting my journal:
I was told by those with me at the time that Jackie Chan had done a shot on that escalator, because of this effect, and someone else (both resident Melburnians) said that on weekdays the escalator was speeded up for commuter traffic.
You think they may have been having me on? That was still one bloody scary escaltor though, GuanoLad.
I used to have a phobia of the dark, until I was well into my 20s. I used reason to get over it. I figured out what it was that I was afraid of about the dark. It turned out to be a few things. One was that since I couldn’t see my surroundings, I didn’t know where they were… and so I imagined that it could be that I was in a very small box, trapped in, and if I tried to take a step (or sit up, if I was lying down) I’d bump into the wall/lid and prove myself right. If I didn’t move, I could still believe that it was only hypothetical. This aspect of my fear I got over by just telling myself how ridiculous it was and how never in the whole history of humanity has anyone’s room ever magically transformed into a me-sized box spontaneously as soon as the lights went out, and I’d just force myself to take the step anyway. Time after time of not hitting the wall of the box and my brain finally let go of that particular irrationality. Another aspect was the fear of there being a person hiding in the dark, and that they could see me but I couldn’t see them. I got over that when I realized that you can see from darkness into light, and so if there was someone hiding, it would actually be better for me if it was as dark as possible where I was, and then the tables would be turned. I am still slightly afraid of the whole “person in the dark” thing, but now it’s about windows at night, and I will often walk around the house with the lights out just because that way I can see out the windows into the almost-dark rather than just having those looming black windows where anything/anyone could be just on the other side. I don’t panic about it anymore.
Bugs. Spiders, fliers, creepy-crawlies, stingers. Ugh- I would flip out immediately. Seriously- I once fell out of a car scrambling to avoid a lone bee that had blundered in.
I had to dial it waaaaaaay down when I had kids, so I didn’t pass on my irrational fears to them. So now, I am cool as a cucumber until after whatever bug encounter is over and the kids are out of sight, and then I flip out a little!
Re: the vomiting thing- sadly, repeated exposure DOES lessen the impact. I used to hate to puke, then I did it a lot (no, not an eating disorder- alcoholism), so now it doesn’t really bother me.
I used to have a tremendous wasp phobia, due to the experience of seeing my little brother fall into a nest, and being stung repeatedly. It was way worse for him, body wise;left him with life-threating allergic reaction to further stings, but he’s pragmatic and sturdy, carried his epi pen. He didn’t get a phobia.
For me, it was a horror of not being able to help him then at 4 years old, so a real phobia developed. I would freeze at a wasp flying around, and totally panic. One little wasp, and I would be frozen and in a ridiculous alarm state, unable to function rationally.
What broke it was living in a house that had wasps overwintering; they would swarm out in spring in the bedroom. At first, a total terror, mind freezing. But, I watched them, and got to know their habits, and realized they were going about their business, didn’t want to sting until they had babies to protect. So, don’t have nests near the house. Watching their habits cured me of the abject terror. There was a period of mental disbelief, though, that they weren’t abject terrorists, who stung from nasty hate.
Still, sorry, got rid of their nests when not appropriate by proximity.
Alternatively, if you have a decent exotic pet store in your area, consider asking to interact with one there. You’ll have more time to get acquainted without a lot of kids hopping around and jostling the spider. Ask to hold a MEXICAN RED KNEE. If they don’t have one, a ROSE HAIR is a good runner up. They are without a doubt the most laid back of the tarantulas and I’ve never, ever, heard of one biting. They are very slow moving as well, so they make an excellent ambassador spider. We used to keep one at the store I used to co-own just for that purpose. Her name was Rosie.
No, it’s very possible they’re right. But I’ve been on most of the Parliament Station escalators many times each and never found any to be fast or weirdly speeded. Mind you, I often run down them at top speed to catch a train, so maybe I’m not the best judge.
My kids have gone to several birthday parties put on by exotic pet folks (Jurassic Parties, The Lizard Man, etc) and they are great for acclimating kids to different “scary” stuff. They get to hold lizards, snakes, big beetles, tarantulas, scorpions, frogs, and even get to hold (all of them together) a big python or some other 10 foot snake.
It’s a great way to introduce kids to stuff in a non-threatening environment- I have even gotten quite used to snakes that way!
I used to have a moderate phobia of the dark combined with ghosts. I wasn’t really afraid of actual people such as criminals and I didn’t believe in ghosts oddly enough. However, the most remote possibility that I was wrong and that I would see a ghost somewhere was pretty terrifying. I was convinced that seeing an actual ghost would cause me to drop dead on the spot or screw me up forever. Again, oddly enough, I didn’t think that ghosts could ever hurt you physically.
The thing that really got me over it was learning about energy, physics, and the way physical systems work from this board and elsewhere. I learned to perfectly understand that ghosts simply aren’t possible, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. In the mean time, we bought a true colonial house built before 1760 which should be a ghost magnet should they exist. Nothing.
Family of people that lived hear long ago have stopped by several times and showed us pictures of 13 girls at a time living in our now bedroom and a long list of people who have died in the house over the past 250 years. One very old man told me flat that the house has always been haunted. I sleep here by myself on occasion with the dark original features and dark corners camouflaging huge attack. So far, so good.
This probably won’t help most people, but I take Cymbalta for depression and neuropathy. To my surprise, it also completely eliminated my fear of flying. I still won’t fly simply for the pure pleasure of it (especially these days, with all the security measures), but I’m able to relax and rest during a flight, instead of holding up the whole plane with sheer will power.
First, I salute you and your reserve and determination! Secondly, that line should be the opening line of your autobiography.
I have two fears that I am am not even sure how to work on to overcome, but they are rearing their heads like a two headed dragon lately: math and public speaking.
The public speaking this is a bit weird for me as I have always been the one that everyone says I should do stand up and give little speeches at banquets and such. I have zero fear of being in front of a crowd. That doesn’t bother me one bit.
It’s my brain. My one bit memory drive craps out on me and suddenly I cannot recall what the hell it is that I am suppose to say or what the hell the subject matter is. Also, the tremendous fear of saying too much and going on and on and on and on and on and boring the living snot out of the crowd.
Math is a life long avoidance that I really need to overcome as I have a 4th grader ( who is more advanced than me in math) and a second grader that I see so much of myself in her regarding math that it frightens me.
Any suggestions are appreciated.
I used to have a very strong needle phobia, to the point where even the suggestion by a Dr. that I had to have blood drawn would make me panic and need to lie down or pass out. Even thinking about it would make me feel light headed and panicky. I didn’t always have it, it developed after a few bad needle instances in a row combined with being very sick at the time. Oddly, I was ok with getting shots, but any needle in a vein was the trigger.
I had to force myself over it when I got pregnant the first time. You need blood drawn and IV’s and stuff quite often. At first I had someone come with me who would distract and talk calmly to me. Beforehand I would visualize the experience going well. I also asked for a smaller needle, then I couldn’t feel it as much. I would even ask for someone very experienced in drawing blood, I would tell them I had a hard time and difficult veins (they are hard to find). Usually people were very sympathetic to me and there is usually a person in a blood lab or Dr. office who is good at dealing with the difficult people.
With each positive experience, my fear lessened a little. So for me, positive exposure worked. Now I still don’t like it much but I can stand it on my own. The worst is when I need an IV - having a needle in my hand that stays there just bugs me and I ask for it out as soon as possible, however I am miles ahead of where I was and I can cope with it.
A while ago, I was very sick and dehydrated, and in for tests. The techs had trouble getting a vein, and tried several times, moving to different places. I think they finally got a little vein in the side of my hand. That tested my coping mechanisms to their limit, I was by myself and felt the panic returning. But the tech was very kind and soothing to me and helped me get through it. Now I know that I can cope with it and it will be ok.
Has anyone had experience with phobia treatment through so-called neuro-linguistic programming? My boyfriend insists I should try it. I have no idea what it entails, but I’ve a pretty severe fear of spiders that I really don’t want to treat by interacting with the little buggers. Living in a flat full of daddy longlegs hasn’t gotten me used to them, but rather made it much worse.
You could check out Cognitive behavioural therapy. In my experience, it’s a great tool for fears and problems relating to your self-image and relationships with other people. I used this to among other things tackle my fear of other people’s anger. The clinic I went to also had a program developed specifically for dyscalculia and math-related fears. Apparently it’s a good method for that, too.
(No, I didn’t try it on arachnophobia. I ran out of money. )
I used it to quit smoking 20 months ago and it worked wonders. I guess it’s similar to how I got over my spider thing, too. Telling myself they are harmless, nice, “cute”, increasing exposure to them - mostly through pictures! - etc.