Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nothing to Fear

One of the most fascinating of all psychological phenomena are phobias or irrational fears. There are true psychological phobias, the main symptom being the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject. When the fear is beyond one's control, or if the fear is interfering with daily life, then the person is diagnosed with anxiety disorder.

It is possible for an individual to develop a phobia over virtually anything. The name of a phobia generally contains the Greek for the person's fear plus the suffix -phobia. Creating new phobia can be fun. One can suffer from Lutraphobia- Fear of otters, or be paralyzed by Sesquipedalophobia- Fear of long words, of course you would be afraid to say or even spell your phobia... leading to Phobophobia- Fear of phobias.

My irrational fears do not affect my quality of life all that much, but to me they are real and sometimes cause me to do things to avoid my phobia. I am working on conquering my phobias, and have actually had some success.

I used to fear swimming for ever since I was 6 or so and the first time I got in a pool I sank to the bottom. The resulting drama led me to avoid pools for over 40 years. But one day, (since a fairly safe and shallow pool was right across the hall from me at the Towers) I decided that I wanted to learn to swim. I had made some progress in getting into a pool, but the act of swimming was still fearful. Working with the little floaty tube I got the hang of it and now swim at least 4-5 times a week. I still respect the water and do not dive in to the ocean or an unfamiliar lake. Maybe when I feel a bit more confident in my skills I will.

I also hate ladders. I unfortunately have had to get past that fear so I can change light bulbs here in the Towers. I get all woozy and shaky even thinking of getting up on a tall ladder, tall being anything above a step stool. I just look at the ladder, tell it that I am not scared of it and then quickly hold my breath as I climb and change the bulb. So far so good.

Probably my strangest fear is that of parking garages. I would go out of my way and park miles from the venue to avoid a parking garage. One time, a long time ago, I parked my car in a garage in Springfield, Il and went to a late show or something, only to find the garage closed upon my return. My car trapped and me stuck in the desolate downtown late at night was not a pleasant experience. It turned out ok, I got a ride home, got my car out the next day. Since then, the entrances of these edifices appeared as a giant maw, ready to swallow me and my auto and trap me in their sterile confines forever. I risked parking in one last year and I had a hell of a time getting out. It was automated, I could not find the correct $$, a line of cars was growing impatient and my anxiety growing. I somehow got out and vowed never again. The damn things hate me.

But a whim combined with a "quit being a fool" voice in me led me to park in the garage next to the Folly Theatre at the last HMC concert. It was supposed to rain and I did not want to walk the 6-8 blocks I usually walked to find a street parking space. I ventured in, found a place and kept my ticket close. As soon as the concert was over, I rushed to get my car out and was relieved to see the sky and relieved that I did not have to walk through the raging storm. I am not sure if I will do it again... but count another fear at least abated!

Now if I could just stop being afraid of the #13 (Triskaidekaphobia) but that is rational right??? Even MS Word spell check recognizes it.

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