If you think you’ve got some weird phobias, have a read of this shit I have to put up with…
Firstly a bit of context, I’ll get onto the bizarre stuff further down. I’m not naturally a very scaredy person although some situations or things will make anxious; I’m a little scared of heights for example but only so much as is healthy. I’m scared of most creepy crawlies, again just a little for self-preservation as they can attack and eat you.
Spiders and daddy-long-legs (or jennys as they were known back home) are my least favourite. I got over the spiders to an extent when I lived in the top flat of an ancient converted Victorian house. There were a couple of spiders per night in my bedsit. And not your normal house or garden spiders, proper armoured mother-fucker spiders. The kind that don’t even bother making webs and all that silky gay shit. They catch things just by running at them and pouncing; or by clothes-lining up to 8 of them at a time.
I don’t like to kill most things, so every night involved the arachnophobic torture of catching these things, along with the normal or baby spiders and taking them down three flights of stairs to be released outside (the windows were old and heavy and just not suitable for the careful act of disposing of them, and to be honest the big shelled spiders could have killed someone on the street below if dropped).
This experience lessened my fear of spiders, but not as much as a certain incident with a spider and my least favourite thing of all, the daddy-long-legs. I’d had a summer evening in my bedroom plagued by no less than 5 daddy-long-legs’ (jennys). They are the one insect I will happily kill, because they are so fucking stupid. They don’t even fly properly, they just wander around whacking into things. Thing is, no amount of force seems to take them down. I’d managed to subdue and capture jenny number 5 and threw it out my bedroom window, only for it to fly right back in my face.
I was tired and sick of dealing with these dumb, dangly little bastards so I decided I’d just go to bed and hide under my covers with a couple of stuffed toys pressed against my ears (since one of the worst things is you can constantly hear a jenny bouncing off the walls). The little shits never sleep.
Just as I was climbing into bed, I saw a big spider on the wall beside me. It just never ends. I wrapped myself up extra tight (because spiders are stronger and would have a better chance of getting me as soon as I fell asleep) and closed my eyes.
I managed to sleep OK and when I woke in the morning I immediately surveyed the room for the intruders. They were nowhere to be seen; I kept looking as I climbed out of bed and put some clothes on hurriedly in case they ran out to get me. It was only after a few minutes I noticed…
In the top far corner of my bedroom, there was the big spider, staring right at me. He seemed to wink, and nodded to his left. There was the daddy-long-legs, hanging from the ceiling with his legs wrapped together, thoroughly incapacitated. It was as if the spider was saying to me “Here mate, saw you had a bit of trouble last night yeah, sorted your little problem for you; this one won’t be troubling you anymore…”
I’ve never been quite so scared of spiders since, knowing that once in a while, they can do you a ‘solid’.
Anyway, arachnophobia (or McCannarachnophobia, the fear of spiders in anoraks), is pretty common, so where’s the weird shit you come here for, the freaky nonsense you don’t get on other blogs…?
Here’s goes, in reverse order of weirdness:
Fear of Heights (in reverse)
No I’m not scared of depths, I’m actually really scared of “heights” but only when I’m at the bottom of them. So, being at the foot of tall buildings, monuments, tourist attractions. My first visit to London I wanted to see Big Ben; I came out of Westminster Tube Station at the exit that was signposted. Got to the top of the stairs, came out, nothing. Looked around, nope. Checked the sign, where is it? Then I looked up and very nearly shat myself.
On a few occasions, going to Waterloo station from the embankment has freaked me because of the London Eye. Especially once I walk past it and it is right behind me, looming. Several times I’ve actually started running to get away from it.
Sort of like the reverse of vertigo. Verticome?
Fear of Buffets (yes buffets)
Perhaps my most famous phobia, because it actually used to affect me a lot, is my buffetphobia. I’ve actually largely gotten over this, but it’s a great one for polite (SIT-DOWN) dinner conversation. Buffets used to freak me substantially. Panic attacks were quite common and I often entirely avoided any situation where I’d be in, or even observing a buffet.
People’s immediate reaction is it’s the hygiene. It actually isn’t I can say that for sure. It’s nothing to do with other people touching the food or being around it or sneezing into it. It seems to be more related to an anxiety about having to choose my own portion or people “taking what they want”. I think this one is from childhood somewhere.
As I said I’ve just about gotten over this. I started to confront it because buffets were just everywhere and my freaking out was not doing any favours for my image as a young, sexy, confident professional… I started by just getting used to being in buffets without getting a panic attack; I wouldn’t eat, but I would try not to run away shaking. After that I tried nibbling a little without throwing up, and it moved on from there. I’m still not 100% over it. At our Christmas party the buffet was only half-successful for me. I found the gastro-wank starters a bit too odd and freaky to be comfortable, but I just avoided them. Main course, with familiar food I was OK.
Overcoming a terrifying illness like this is a slow, step-by-step process.
Fear of the Sea (on maps … and only on maps)
Being afraid of the wide open ocean is probably much more common, but those of you who’ve read the tale of my Croatian skinny-dipping from my other blog know I’m fine with that (should probably copy that anecdote over sometime). I’m a little anxious in the sea, but probably only because I’m not a strong swimmer, and having my scrawny nude body smashed against some rocks in the Adriatic didn’t help.
My fear is the sea on a MAP. I had a globe in my bedroom when I was younger. That globe had to have the Pacific facing away from me at all times or I would just get freaked. I don’t know if this was where it started – it’s not like the globe ever tried to molest me or anything or steal my lunch money, but it’s the earliest sea-fearing memory I have.
It was only with the advent of things like Google Maps, I realised that my fear was much broader. Scrolling across countries, on my computer screen, when I get to the coast I’ve been known to start shaking. In fact, despite being very geographically curious, and loving things like atlases and the online equivalents, I actually have to avoid browsing them because I can really freak out.
I used to think maybe the realism was the issue and it only would affect me if I was looking at realistic satellite images of the land and sea. But no, I am equally uncomfortable with plain roadmaps, cartoon maps, anything. It doesn’t matter what colour the sea is, or how it’s represented.
Here’s an example, this is a quite cartoony National Geographic Atlas I bought for Windows 8 on my PC. I do love geography and this is the kind of thing I’d love to browse and learn about, but it genuinely can be quite an uncomfortable experience.
This alone makes me slightly anxious although it’s not too bad. I get worse if I think about spinning the map, especially right so the Pacific filled the image.
I am genuinely pretty anxious trying to move the map further to the right. This is pretty much my tipping point. Notice the colour is different to the first map; makes no difference. Were I not taking screenshots for a blog post I would generally avoid having anything like this much sea on the screen.
To be honest I’m not sure exactly where this is, I took the screenshot and got the fuck out of there. I feel a little nervy having that picture above as I type. And I literally got a shiver down my spine when I noticed the Netherlands image was still open on my other PC screen.
I lay in bed a few months ago reading about the Falkland Islands history on my phone and ended up in Google Maps looking at the location close up. I was actually close to a freakout with each swipe of my finger, terrified I would stray too far. I had to look away as I zoomed back out so I could see exactly where they were in relation to Argentina. Not knowing for sure how much sea would be around them and when it would end scared the shit out of me.
And it’s not just globes and online maps. I’m as bad if not worse with printed atlases. I would never open one at a random page. I have done before and freaked because of too much sea.
I’m open to suggestions in the comments box below about why this is or where it came from. I should point out I’m also sometimes freaked out by sparsely-populated land areas. For example, if I zoomed right in on Kyrgyzstan, I’d become uneasy as the towns and cities for further and further apart and the land was just empty land.
I guess it’s like a really weird and specialised fear of the unknown or emptiness…
UPDATE: I should probably explain in more detail what a fear of heights is, in case there are any lost Germans reading. Lost Germans just don’t know vertigo…
Now, I wouldn’t say I shared your sea atlas unpleasantness to the same degree, but I do understand a shade of where you are coming from.
Unlike you, I am afraid of the sea. Big time. The thing has a mind of its own and could kill you as soon as look at you (even though it doesn’t have any eyes to look with). It also conceals stuff in it that can eat you, sting you, wrap around you, shoot you or make a ruddy big hole in your boat and then chuckle while you try and swim more than the 200m that is advertised on that badge you were given at Coatbridge baths. And this is a good link to the root of some of my anxiety.
I used to swim at Bellshill baths and I used to hate going up to the deep end. It was 12 and a half feet deep (which at that time made it about 1.5 times deeper than I was tall), which was a worry, but the numbers didn’t mean anything without the colour.
Pardon the pun, but the thing that freaked me out was how deep a blue the water looked up that end.
Coatbridge baths was ten feet deep at the deep end (still deep enough for another me to stand on my shoulders and not break the surface) but this was fine because the water was a very pale blue.
Now, returning to the atlas (and I know this bit might be tough to listen to), the maps that have the sea in them tend to use different shades of blue for differing depths of water. (You may not have looked at them long enough to know that) The deeper you go, the deeper the blue ink.
Every time I see the deepest bits in the atlas, I imagine being halfway down in those areas of water (never all the way). And all because of the colouring of the pool at the Matt Busby leisure centre in Bellshill.
You know I think you might be on to something. Now I think about it I am particularly freaked out by the Google Maps satellite view sea (which is very dark). You might just have something there.