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Dramedy Writer

Phobias - What’s Yours And How Do You Cope?

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I’m back and forth on giving one of my characters a mild phobia of birds. So I’m curious...how do you deal with phobias?

 

I’ve always had a phobia of bugs. I don’t know when it started, because when I was a child, I was okay with bugs and snakes. My best friend’s father was a entomologist, so I was around bugs and reptiles a lot! But now they terrify me. Especially spiders. When in proximity to a spider, my heart rate goes wild, and I start sweating, and shaking. Once, I almost crashed my car for finding one of those fuzzy black spiders on my person while driving. I slapped at it frantically, weaving in and out of the lane, and only by God’s grace I didn’t end up in a head-on collision. I can kill spiders, and I have forced myself close to a spider to kill it a few times, but I shook and prayed the whole time.

 

I think my most terrifying experience (yep, it supersedes the car adventure) was when I opened the oven in a trailer house and a snake poked its head out. I slammed the over door closed and fell backward with a scream. I didn’t know if the snake had gone back inside the oven, or dropped out and slithered behind it, but it sure wasn’t caught in the door. I may have done some more screaming before I ran for my machete. Then I seated myself cross-legged on the counter across from the oven and watched the floor, my machete in hand. I sat that way for a long time, but the snake must have gone back out through a hole somewhere. It wasn’t in the oven when I finally had the courage to peek in, and I never saw it again.

 

What’s your story, and how do you cope with phobias?

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I'm probably not going to be much help here, as I can't say that I have a phobia of something. I do have some deep rooted fears, but I class those in a different category to phobias. 

 

I also have a, err, personal aversion to spiders. There are some that I can allow to live (because they are harmless and useful), but others I kill. Unless they happen to look like a hybrid of a spider and scorpion. Then I find someone else to do the dirty work for me.

 

There was one time when I opened my bedroom cupboard, shifted a shoe and found a scorpion. That day involved a lot of yelling and leaping backward. My mum had to kill it for me. Granted, I was about 8 years old.

 

In general, I don't tend to react when suddenly encountering a creature or reptile. I'll blame this on growing up on a farm, near a river, and with two older brothers. So when facing a snake or other creepy creature, I resort to what I was taught - don't panic, back away, stay calm. This probably is how I cope with my phobias. Stay calm, and back away.

 

When facing situations where fear would cripple me, I recite Psalm 56:3 - "When I am afraid, I will trust in You." That forces me to think of God, and gets my heart rate etc. back to a safe level.

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I can't think of a phobia. I dislike spiders but I'm bigger than they are and I usually send them to the happy sleeping ground. But I do have a hate: I HATE mice. I hate MICE. I HATE MICE!!! LOL And we get them every year.  :mad:

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7 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

There was one time when I opened my bedroom cupboard, shifted a shoe and found a scorpion.

 

Yikes! ?

 

7 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

Unless they happen to look like a hybrid of a spider and scorpion. 

 

I think I would faint dead away if I encountered something like that.

 

7 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

So when facing a snake or other creepy creature, I resort to what I was taught - don't panic, back away, stay calm. This probably is how I cope with my phobias. Stay calm, and back away.

 

When facing situations where fear would cripple me, I recite Psalm 56:3 - "When I am afraid, I will trust in You." That forces me to think of God, and gets my heart rate etc. back to a safe level

 

This is helpful, @Claire Tucker! Thank you! I love that Psalm. When my little sister was a toddler,  she would watch a Steve Green kid’s songs video that put Psalms 56:3 in song, so I had that Scripture drilled into to my head daily as a teenager. I didn’t appreciate it then, but I do now!
 

23 minutes ago, lynnmosher said:

But I do have a hate: I HATE mice. I hate MICE. I HATE MICE!!! LOL And we get them every year

 

Oh, @lynnmosher, I’m on the Hate Mice team as well. When I lived in Indonesia years ago, we had a mice problem, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. I once came home and found a mouse in my toilet!

Edited by Dramedy Writer
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8 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

Clowns.  I have a phobia of clowns, and yes, I know it's stupid, but still...

 

Not stupid at all, @suspensewriter! Thanks to Steven King, fear of clowns is common enough. I knew someone who was afraid of clowns a few years back. (Btw, I’ve never read Steven King. A part of me is curious because he’s such a famous writer, but I can’t handle horror. I can’t watch horror movies either.) Thanks for sharing!

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The only good spider is a dead spider. Spider pate or any insect pate for that matter. That said, usually once I get over the initial shock(?) I just kill it. Otherwise it's "how do I get rid of it?"

 

@Dramedy Writer snakes I like okay. I probably would have turned that oven on high (☠️) he would've then just left through the vent he got in through.

 

My daughter is afraid of clowns too (?) @suspensewriter I'm not,  but I get it.

 

@lynnmosher mice and all their cousins are just a pesky, dirty nuisance. They can get through the most unlikely of access points and are afraid to be in the open. Which is why they run along walls or in tubes of some kind. They're pretty determined though when they'll chew off a leg to get free. If it's in the toilet, it's thirsty and so it gets a swirly. It's only a problem when the toilet gets plugged. 

Edited by zx1ninja
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7 minutes ago, zx1ninja said:

If it's in the toilet, it's thirsty and so it gets a swirly. It's only a problem when the toilet gets plugged. 

Edited 6 minutes ago by zx1ninja

 

LOL Yeah, I'm sure. I don't think I'd bury them at sea. Hubs just picks them up with a plastic burial cape and deposits them in the depths of the garbage grave! xD

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16 minutes ago, zx1ninja said:

That said, usually once I get over the initial shock(?) I just kill it. Otherwise it's "how do I get rid of it?"

 

@Dramedy Writer snakes I like okay. I probably would have turned that oven on high (☠️) he would've then just left through the vent he got in through.

 

Sounds like an efficient approach to dealing with spiders! And I can’t honestly tell you why I didn’t turn the oven on. It all happened in a blur, and I didn’t know if it was in the oven or not. Turning on the heat was definitely the simple solution, but that’s me—I approach problem-solving with unnecessary complications.

 

18 minutes ago, zx1ninja said:

If it's in the toilet, it's thirsty and so it gets a swirly. It's only a problem when the toilet gets plugged. 

 

Ha ha! I did actually think about flushing, but was worried that the toilet would overflow. It was big enough to be a rat. I can still see its beady eyes looking back at me. ::shudder:: So what I did was hurry from the bathroom and get our gardener. He was our mouse police. ?

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28 minutes ago, Dramedy Writer said:

So what I did was hurry from the bathroom and get our gardener. He was our mouse police. ?

 

LOL That's the only way I'd do it! xD

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Mine is being afraid of heights. Luckily my son takes care of all the high up and ladder stuff. I don't know what I will be when he moves out. I hope he does not move to far away. ? 

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7 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Clowns.  I have a phobia of clowns, and yes, I know it's stupid, but still...

Coulrophobia sufferers, unite!

I tried writing a short story on the horrible things, and couldn't. I had nightmares.

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@jonjovi I’m uncomfortable with heights too, and I can’t do more than a few steps up a ladder. I know what you mean. I, too, would be in a pickle if I didn’t have family to climb ladders for me. Stairs I can see through bother me at times. Here’s a mystery I can’t solve—when I was a teenager, I would rock climb with friends. I still can’t figure out why that didn’t bother me, because when I tried to hike out on a cliff ledge with my husband years later, I couldn’t do it! I was shaking too hard and had to stay back away from the ledge. 

Edited by Dramedy Writer
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Wasps. They're evil! If I think one's buzzing by I yelp and dodge.

 

Thankfully I have a husband who squashes them with welding mitts when they get where they shouldn't be :D

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3 minutes ago, Dramedy Writer said:

@Shadowjess, I hate wasps too! We have a lot of mud daubers where we live. Welding mitts! Gotta try that this summer!

The mud daubers I don't mind so much. It's the red and the yellow ones. Year before last I got nailed on the side of the knee while I was sitting outside writing.

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lol.  Leather gloves are what I use, usually.  When there's something like a spider, snake, or something else that needs to go, I'm usually the one that get's called on.  :P

 

Don't know that I have any phobias of my own though.  I do hate red wasps with a passion, if that counts for anything.

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47 minutes ago, Shadowjess said:

Year before last I got nailed on the side of the knee while I was sitting outside writing

 

Ouch! That sounds painful! I run from wasps whenever they come around, but I’ve never been stung by one. I have been stung by bees though. Got stung three times in one day one summer.

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I'm not a fan of snakes.  We were invited in our home one year with snakes. Black snakes, copper heads, cottonmouths, we took care of over 50 snakes in two months.  Not fun when you have a toddler and a newborn. I was scared to let them out of my sight.  Still, I can deal with them if I have to.  

 

I do have a mild phobia of flying things with stinkers, usually including a startled jump and extreme avoidance.  I have killed them when needed, shaking the whole time.  

 

I think the real question to ask is why your character is afraid of birds. Why can make a lot of difference?  

 

Example, I had an extremely traumatic experience involving a certain type of car.  (Thankfully not popular and very old) Every time I see one of them I will instantly be thrown into a panic attack.  Thankfully if the kids are with me, I can move to get them away. (As crazy as that sounds) But when it's just me I likely to melt down wherever I'm at.  

 

Another example is that my mother was bitten by a posionus snake as a child.  I remember going to a place where snakes were behind glass and her screaming and running away like an ax murderer was after her, leaving me there completely confused. 

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4 minutes ago, Alley said:

Black snakes, copper heads, cottonmouths, we took care of over 50 snakes in two months.  Not fun when you have a toddler and a newborn. I was scared to let them out of my sight.  Still, I can deal with them if I have to.  

 

@Alley, that sounds completely terrifying! ? I can’t even imagine. 

 

8 minutes ago, Alley said:

I do have a mild phobia of flying things with stinkers, usually including a startled jump and extreme avoidance.  I have killed them when needed, shaking the whole time

 

I can certainly relate to this! My weapon of choice for indoor intruders is a spritz bottle filled with soapy water. Outside, I just take off running.  

 

13 minutes ago, Alley said:

I think the real question to ask is why your character is afraid of birds. Why can make a lot of difference?  

 

I do have a backstory for his phobia, it’s his method of coping and attempting to overcome it that I’m wrestling with. Research says desensitization is the effective plan for overcoming a phobia, and my experience supports it, but am I going to walk into a roomful of spiders to overcome my fear? Ah, no. Lol!

 

20 minutes ago, Alley said:

Example, I had an extremely traumatic experience involving a certain type of car.  (Thankfully not popular and very old) Every time I see one of them I will instantly be thrown into a panic attack.  Thankfully if the kids are with me, I can move to get them away. (As crazy as that sounds) But when it's just me I likely to melt down wherever I'm at.  

 

It doesn’t sound crazy. It’s amazing how parents can do that. Set aside their reactions—even one of terror—to see their kids to safety. Thanks for sharing! This helps!

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1 hour ago, Alley said:

I had an extremely traumatic experience involving a certain type of car. 

I hope it wasn't a Gremlin. They're pretty tame and easy going. ?

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3 minutes ago, zx1ninja said:

I hope it wasn't a Gremlin. They're pretty tame and easy going. ?

? I'm never filling that car, especially after midnight!!! ?

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Tanathophobia / hypochondria, and arachnophobia. I deal with the latter by keeping bug spray around the house and always being on the lookout for spiders. As for the former, it's making my life very difficult because I have a lot of health problems and I'm scared of death almost 24/7. ?

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I have  a fear of heights. I'm not sure it's an actual phobia, it may be depending on the circumstances. I have to fly in airplanes once every few years and I hate it, absolutely hate the whole process. The process from the moment I enter the airport to the moment the plane revs up for takeoff is terrifying to me. I think it's the anticipation of what could happen. I could almost say it's a phobia except that I can deal with it, without medication. I can get through security, I can step on board, I can handle hearing the engine rev up right before take off, but the whole time I'm shaking, my palms are sweaty, and my heart is racing. But... and even though I normally can't handle heights well, I have to watch out the window and see the ground drop away. Have to watch it, can't look away. After the plane levels off, my palms stop sweating my heart settles down, and I stop shaking and the rest of the flight doesn't seem too bad, including turbulence.  I think I've flown so much since I was a kid that I've basically trained myself to remain calm on the outside so most people who don't know me may think I'm just a little nervous, but wouldn't suspect how much I'm dreading the process. My body isn't fooled though which is why I still get shaky,  sweaty palms, and racing heart.

 

There are a few times when I can say that my fear of heights turned into a phobia. Two of the most recent being lighthouse related. First,  when  I and a friend of mine were hiking and came across a sign that said a lighthouse lookout spot was up ahead, which sounded interesting so we turned that way and started walking up the trail. Soon we came to a bit that narrowed drastically and partially ran up the side of a cliff with a sharp drop off. I was doing fine until the trail hit a spot that wasn't maintained and the railing had disappeared. No railing and suddenly I froze in place. Couldn't move. Even though I really, really wanted to see the lighthouse and the view (which I was told was magnificent), I just couldn't will my body to move forward and the more I tried the more I felt weak kneed and faint. I soon had to admit defeat and turned around, almost hugging the cliff wall on the way down, using it as support because my legs felt like rubber.

 

The next time was when I was on vacation visiting my sister in Florida and we stopped to see a famous lighthouse landmark. We all wanted to go up to the top, so we eagerly went through the museum and headed up. The inside stairwell leading up has no railing as it turns around and around heading up. And the stairs were a latticed metal which meant I could see all the way down, sort of. It was too much and barely a story up and I had to stop, scoot into a small opening in the wall and wait as other people, including children, happily bounced their way past me, before shakily heading back down and waiting for my family outside.

 

Both times my phobia hindered me from enjoying something that I really wanted to experience. Apparently I couldn't cope, and had to admit defeat in that area, as I simply could not force myself into the situation any further.  

 

 

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