How'd you get your phobia(s)?

I’m phobic about flying insects that sting. Bees, wasps and yellow jackets all give me a bit of a panic attack.

It started in college when I had a yellow jacket land on my lip and stay there for 15+ seconds. (It seemed much longer while it was happening, though.) My friends were trying to get it off. I was trying to blow it off. It wouldn’t move. I was convinced I was going to be stung on the tongue and have to go to the hospital. I just knew whatever happened, it’d be painfull. I could feel the sucker’s legs CLASPING onto my lip. Finally, it left. I didn’t get stung. Happy ending, right? Nope. Now I’m afraid I WILL get stung by one of these things.

I think that if the bug had stung me, I wouldn’t have this phobia. I’d’ve encountered the worst and known I could deal with it.

So, here’s the reason I’m posting this: is it the fear of something that might happen that gave you your phobia or an event that actually transpired?

I am terrified of water monsters. I even get creaped out in a 3 foot pool. It started one night on a walk home with a friend back in high school. We were pretty much blasted on drink and smoke and decided to take a short cut and follow the PG&E ditch to the street we lived on.

During the walk by the ditch, my friend started talking about mutated trout. Soon, between both of our imaginations, there were 50 foot long mutated snake like trout with reflective eyes that moaned to lure the unexpected night walker to their deaths.

Never been the same since. We even used to swim in the ditch at night before that. Strange what sticks in your mind.

This isn’t about me (hey, not everything is about me), but I think it’s appropriate to share.

When one of my nephews was about three, he fell from the top of a slide at a park and broke his leg. It was pretty bad; he had to be in a mostly-body cast for a while. He doesn’t recall the accident or its aftermath, but he’s still terrified of heights. (He’s 23 or so now.)

I was apparently born with my most troubling phobia, which is acrophobia – actually not so much acrophobia as vertigo. Certain things like stairwells and elevators give me anxiety and nausea.

I have a fear of walking over grates which came from my grandfather. There was a floor furnance grate in his house, and he kept telling the kids that if we stepped on it we’d fall into the furnace and be burnt to a crisp.

Silly Dog, You’re very lucky you didn’t get stung. I once got bit on the lip by a mosquito while I was sleeping, and my lip swelled up to the size of a golf ball for about 3 days.

I’ve had a centipede-and-millipede phobia since the age of three, when a couple of older kids saw me playing with a millipede and told me they were poisonous. I have no idea whether this is actually true, but I must have been at an impressionable age, because anything with too many legs gives me the creeps to this day. (Which sucks, because North Carolina is afflicted with a plague of millipedes at the moment. Ugh.)

I’ve shared this before, but my story’s quite similar to that of skeptic_ev’s nephew. I fell while climbing up a ladder at the playground when I was 4 and split my chin open, requiring many stiches, including some inside my mouth. I remember most of the event, except for actually falling - I remember climbing, then next thing I knew I was hanging over a rung of the ladder. I’ve been terrified of heights ever since (I’m 24 now).

When I was young, a bee flew up the leg of my shorts and stung me on the inner thigh while I was riding my bicycle down the street. Not only did the sting hurt like hell, but I fell off the bike. A few years later, I was stung on the hand and face (also while on a bike) by a wasp that had come out of a GIGANTIC nest in a tree that had apparently been hit by a truck or something. Stingy things scared me really badly for a long time. This June, I was stung on the back of the neck while camping. It hurt, I swore a lot, I put some Benadryl cream on it… and that was it. I’m still afraid, but it’s not nearly as bad.

When my boyfriend was little, he lived in a very old house in the country that wasn’t built tremendously well. One night, he woke up to find he was covered in literally hundreds of wolf spiders. We’ve decided that we have to see RotK together so that I can tell him when the Shelob parts are over, and try to make sure he doesn’t pass out or anything.

I used to really dig enclosed spaces… then my siblings locked me in the top-shelf cabinets of our travel trailer and left me there for what seemed like a month (probably two seconds… I was a little kid)… now I get uneasy on elevators… and if there are more than a couple of people on their I can FEEL the panic coming on!

I have an intense fear of needles, thanks to my mom and a pediatrician. Apparently, when I was very little, I became very, very ill. And because of my extremely small veins (gee thanks Mom :rolleyes: ), it became extremely difficult to extract the needed quantity of blood from either of my arms and one of my legs. SO…the doctor got this bright idea. My mom held me down (or perhaps I was in soft restraints…I don’t remember but I’m pretty sure Mom was holding me) while the doc and a nurse scared the beejeezus outta me to make me cry hard enough so the veins in my neck would pop out. She did, they did and the veins did. They used a neck vein to extract however much blood was needed and since that day, whenever I see a needle on TV or somebody comes near me with a needle, I begin to hyperventilate and sob inconsolably. Sometimes I shake, too and it’s very hard to get me calmed down afterwards.


i have major issues with being close to nude (bathing suit) and barefooted outside of my house. Pools/waterparks are a biggie because of all the germs and gross hairy people and the little kids that could pee, and the people with colds…yuck

My worst not so much as a phobia but a disgust/fear, is fat people. I feel really bad about it but looking at them bubbling out of their clothes or waddeling around gets me so disgusted i could literally throw up. I have an eating disorder which is a portion of why i feel this way. I really have a hard time not judging my friends some times because their shirt shows their fat or their jeans are to tight…something i feel horrible about.

Tests! I get paralyzing panic attacks during tests where i have to be removed from the room.

Crowds give me major panic attacks because of germs, people touching me, just all the noise and confusion really seeps in to my brain and strangles it

I fell down an escalator when I was 7 or so. I’m terrified of the monstrous contraptions.

I’m terrified of bridges…my pulse quickens, I get queesy, and have often had trouble breathing…Why, you ask? Since I was about 5 I have randomly had a reoccuring dream that my mom and I are crossing the bridge, and it collapses when we reach the center. I have it at least once a year. How’s that for weird?

I was a little fearful of large freeway interchanges. I have Essential Tremors and was not on regular meds a few years ago when I came up to a large freeway interchange that involved about three miles of driving with six lanes of fast traffic and nowhere to pull off when my worst attack ever occurred. Head and arms flopping about wildly, it was quite a scary run.

I pulled over on the shoulder as soon as I could after the last bit of aerial concrete, and after about 20 minutes I crawled up to the next exit and crept home on surface streets.

I saw my doc the next morning and since then I’ve been on a drug regimen that controls that quite effectively. Nevertheless, I just couldn’t do the big aerial freeway interchanges for a bit, so I’d drive all sorts of odd routes. I’ve gotten to where I do them again, but every once in a while I get a twinge when I know I’m coming up on one. The more that I don’t avoid them, the better I am about the whole thing.

I usually make myself drive them one-handed. See? SEE? It’s OK!

My terror of spiders probably comes from my father, who shrieks and runs from the room whenever an 8-legged beastie appears. If feeling particularly brave he might throw shoes at it to try and kill it from across the room, but usually just the hopping and freaking until Mom shows up with a Kleenex for squashing.
It was so bad that he used to take all the nature books in the house, find all the pages with spiders on them (also spider crabs, and other particularly ugly bugs), and tape them together so he’d never accidentally open the book to those pages.

That plus the fact that spiders are just ugly icky creatures. Just look at the way a tarantula MOVES!! Oh great, now i’m freaking myself out. Gonna have to check my bed for spiders tonight before I can sleep!!

Abby, I got my sneaker-clad foot caught in the end of an escalator when I was about 5 and had terrible anxiety about riding them for several years. But ride 'em I did, and I got over that, eventually.

For some reason, I’ve never cared much for air travel, and reading too much about air accidents didn’t help any.

I’ve got a couple of irrational fears.

Needles - Traumatic experience with a measles shot and a lot of struggling when I was a kid. The needle broke off or tore skin or something happened, I just remember a whole lot of pain. It used to be so bad that two years ago I was a freshman in college and trying to get one of the complementary flu shots my school was offering. I walked into the hallway to the room where the shots were being given, and immediately had to go sit down because I started hyperventilating.

Tidal waves - I have NO IDEA. I’ve lived far inland my entire life. But just turn on some Discovery Channel special about monster waves and I’m checking my windows and half expecting to see some huge hundred-foot whitecap come sailing through my neighborhood. Jeez, I got chills just typing that.
But this summer, I went abroad in New Zealand and a bunch of my friends convinced me to go skydiving over Taupo. It took them almost three weeks to talk me into it, because I’ve seen ALL those movies where some sap’s chute doesn’t open. Long story short, I did jump and had an amazing time. It ended up being just about the coolest thing I have ever done. So when I got home, I immediately started looking around for ways to face my stupid fears.

Needles I’ve almost gotten rid of. I went to a piercing studio and got my earlobes double-pierced and my ear cartilage pierced. (The single piercings in my earlobes were done when I was so young I don’t remember getting them.) I know those are pretty generic piercings, but I’ve wanted them done since I was 13 but kept hiding behind a childhood fear of needles. I almost walked out of the studio twice, and kept asking the guy who did the piercings to remind me that I’d jumped out of an airplane a couple weeks ago. Incidentally, he had a major fear of heights. And this year I might donate blood, something I’ve never done before because of the needles, or get a flu shot.

Tidal waves are up next. I want to learn to surf. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s a place I can pick it up around here.

I’m not suggesting that everyone do this, of course.

I don’t know how I got my worst phobia–spiders–which makes it even more maddening. Knowing it’s completely irrational doesn’t help. (And this is from a woman who’s had pet lizards, snakes and rats.)

I hate, hate, hate being irrational. I’m beginning to suspect that if fears aren’t hardwired they’re so basic that just understanding beginnings won’t help much.

So much for psychiatry, huh?


I’m terrified of swimming in lakes when i can’t see the bottom. I love to swim in pools but I can’t swim in a lake or the ocean because I’m terrified something is going to attack me.

It comes from reading a lot of shark books when I was little