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Author Topic: Phobias
Speed
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When I was a little kid I used to be pathologically claustrophobic. It didn't come up that often, but I have some funny stories about severe freak-outs in enclosed spaces, and of doing fairly irrational things to avoid them.

The last one happened when I was around 15, so for all of my adult life I've thought of myself as someone who used to be claustrophobic, before I matured and got over it.

Today I took my 3-year-old child out to a hamburger place for lunch, and we went to wash our hands in their single-person bathroom. I didn't realize that they were in the process of doing maintenance on the doorknob, and the handyman had just stepped away when we walked in.

So we finished washing up and I tried the doorknob when it came off in my hands. It took me a few moments to realize that I couldn't fix it, but once it hit me that we were stuck I immediately felt the most powerful adrenaline surge I can remember, after which I vaguely recall about 10 seconds of screaming and flailing at the door before I blacked out.

Fortunately someone came right over and let me out. I can't have been in there for more than a minute or two. But now I'm no longer the person who used to be a claustrophobic little kid. I'm just a guy who managed to avoid triggering it for the last couple decades.

I'll probably be too embarrassed to tell the story to anyone I know, but that's the beauty of Internet anonymity. So that's my story, and if anyone else wants to make me feel better by sharing some irrational phobic experiences, I'd appreciate it. And I won't begrudge you a few [Laugh] at my expense if you're feeling sinister. [Smile]

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MattP
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Wow. That sounds aweful. How did your son respond?

I don't have any major phobias that affect me like that, but I have an infuriating tendency to pass out when exposed to any slightly medical environment. The sight of blood - sure, that happens with lots of people. But I also get woozy sometimes when I'm sitting in a doctor's waiting room or at the bedside of a family member that is recovering from minor surgery with nothing gory in sight. I've also passed out in the dentist's chair. It's completely involuntary and very frustrating.

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Bella Bee
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I have a phobia of blood tests (a mean doctor when I was a kid caused that one). I can just about get into the room, although the world starts to go green, then I start to cry uncontrollably and then I pass out. It's pretty embarrassing and it means that I can't donate blood, which I really want to do.

The last time, I lay down so that I wouldn't fall, the doctor had a blood pressure monitor on me, my blood pressure suddenly shot up and before I knew it, the nurses suddenly started running around screaming and throwing things onto me and one of them said to my doctor 'There's something seriously wrong with her'. My doctor, who is sensible was saying 'No, no she's fine!'.

They did see the funny side of it after a moment once I stopped passing out, when my blood pressure dropped like a stone.

I don't know what to do about it - I don't have any fear of injury or blood. Only that one situation.

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mr_porteiro_head
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I don't know if it technically qualifies as claustrophobia, but when I moved out to Utah Valley with the beautiful Wasatch Mountains rising up above, it kinda freaked me out after having grown up in the Great Plains. It felt like those mountains were going to topple down and fall on me.

Similarly, whenever I'd visit the forests of New England or Oregon, I'd feel uncomfortably closed in by all the trees. That many trees in one place just ain't natural!

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MattP
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quote:
It's pretty embarrassing and it means that I can't donate blood, which I really want to do.
This is a big downside for me too. I once decided to give it a try, though I knew it wouldn't likely work out, and I just about passed out when they pricked my ear for the pre-donation screening. I told them just to take the blood from my unconscious body, but apparently that's against protocol. [Smile]
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mr_porteiro_head
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I too have been known to pass out when needles are put into my body.

It doesn't happen often, but that's mostly because I won't let anybody stick any needles in me unless I'm already horizontal.

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AchillesHeel
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I hate airplanes, I wont fly and everytime I see a plane in the air I watch to make sure it doesnt drop on top of me. I have done this my whole life and my family finds it funny that I am visibly worried because I saw a plane flying directly over us.

I agree with MPH about the trees, Im born and raised Arizona so when my cousin came back from a trip to Michigan and showed a picture of nothing but skinny trees as far as the eye could see it creeped me out. Ive been out in some of the wooded areas of Arizona before but those trees are bigger and farther apart, the differance is non-existant but they didnt bother me.

And recently I went to my favorite comic book store on Free Comic Book Day and was reminded of my agoraphobia and ended up purchasing a twenty dollar book I already owned. The hipster staff were keeping thier backs to the wall and had genuine distress in thier eyes, so many people in that store... ugh.

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scholarette
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My husband has the blood problem. When he gives blood for blood tests, he takes a mild sedative first to calm him enough to not totally freak out. He also tries to warn the nurses, but after one was really rude over it, he stopped. It is fun when they have panic alarms and watching the doctors run.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I don't know if it technically qualifies as claustrophobia, but when I moved out to Utah Valley with the beautiful Wasatch Mountains rising up above, it kinda freaked me out after having grown up in the Great Plains. It felt like those mountains were going to topple down and fall on me.

I had that the entire weekend I spent in Salt Lake City, every single time I went outdoors.
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Juxtapose
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mph and AchillesHeel,
It's funny. I grew in a rain forest (more or less) on the side of a mountain. Wide open plains with no trees weird me out the same way. I remember watching Fargo for the first time and being more creeper out by the landscape than anything else.

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Sean Monahan
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When I was about 10 I had to have dental surgery to remove some baby teeth. They came in late, so they were falling out late, and were being pushed around by my adult teeth coming in. It was the first surgery I ever had, and I had to be unconscious. I was put under using a gas mask. The doctor told me to relax and put the mask on me. I first felt my feet starting to float, and the floating feeling worked up my body. When it reached my head, and I started to lose consciousness, I freaked out. I can remember throwing the mask off and screaming, and fighting the doctor and nurse. I thought I was dying.

Since then, I have had a few surgeries, using an IV to put me out. But it still requires an extreme act of control not to freak out. Although I looooove to sleep in my bed, the idea of induced/artificial unconsciousness still really disturbs me. And to this day, anytime I smell anything that even remotely resembles the smell of that rubber gas mask, it makes me want to throw up.

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AchillesHeel
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I have spent my life looking out at mountain ranges, in certain parts of Arizona I can tell where I am by mountains alone. Someday I want to drive out the middle of the great plains, Ideally Kansas and just park and look about at flat ground as far as the eye can see, I cant imagine what that looks like. No mountains in the distance, no hills mesa's or peaks, now thats wierd.
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BlackBlade
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I used to be terrified of dogs, but I got over it, then I got it back after living in Taiwan, now it turns on and off almost on a whim. I've happily played with dogs only to insist that I didn't want to touch another dog just a few weeks later. A dog's temperment has a lot to do with it. I still tease little dogs that bark at me from behind fences or doors. That will probably come around someday.

Other than that I don't have any proper phobias. I don't like needles, either going in me or somebody else, I look away every time. I am not bothered by movies portraying swords or spears going into people though, what's up with that?

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MattP
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quote:
I am not bothered by movies portraying swords or spears going into people though, what's up with that?
Same here. I can also watch the most graphic surgery on TV with no problem even if a trickle of blood in real life has the potential to knock me out. Even that is hit-and-miss. I've seen real-life gashes with copious blood that were no problem, and pin pricks that laid me out.
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PSI Teleport
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Tornadoes. I lived in Savannah, of all places, which is essentially tornado-free. But in my teens I slept fully-clothed, with sneakers, and left the TV on the Weather Channel 24/7.
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DSH
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I have an on-again-off-again fear of heights. Mostly off-again. This fear crops up in the strangest of places though:

I was at the mall some time ago and one of my kids (about 4 y.o. at the time) ran up to the glass railing to look down on the lower level of the mall and I nearly passed out, and could NOT bring myself to walk up to the railing to take his hand and lead him away. I could only stand many feet away and try and talk him back from the [perfectly safe] edge.

Another time I climbed two stories up a ladder and then up to the peak of my roof to take care of a maintenance issue, all without any problem... until it came time to climb back down. Then I panicked, froze up and was sure I was going to plunge to my death that day.

I also had the opportunity to visit the roof of the US Steel tower in Pittsburgh (on a business trip back in 1999). I didn't have any problem being on the roof until my host decided to drag me over to the edge for a look at the streets below. It was not a pleasant experience, but it didn't induce half the panic I felt at the mall with my 4 year old.

That's usually how it goes. 20 or 30 feet freaks me out, 800 feet just makes me nervous. [Roll Eyes]

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Speed
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Wow, these stories are great. I feel like much better now. Thanks, everyone.

quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
Wow. That sounds aweful. How did your son respond?

I'm not sure he knew exactly what was going on at the time, so when we got out and sat down he very calmly asked me about it.

"Were we stuck in the bathroom?"
"Yes."
"Was the door locked?"
"Yes."
"Did someone make a mistake?"
"Yes they did."
"Were you scared, daddy?"
"Yes, I was scared."
"I was scared too, daddy."

I don't think he was as scared as I was, but it seemed nice of him to say. Of course, being 3 years old he wanted to have the exact same conversation 20 times before we finished our hamburgers. But it was still a nice gesture from a little guy.

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Speed
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quote:
Originally posted by DSH:
I have an on-again-off-again fear of heights. Mostly off-again. This fear crops up in the strangest of places though

I'm the same way. My dad had an office about 30 floors up in a Houston highrise, and I used to lean my forehead against the window and look down on the city with no problem.

But a few years ago I went to visit the Liverpool Cathedral. It's one of the most gorgeous buildings I've ever seen, and for a few pounds they'll take you to the top, which is well worth the price. It's a breathtaking view, and completely safe as the only way to see it is out of slots in the 10-foot-high stonework that surrounds the roof. You couldn't throw yourself off the side if you wanted to. But I was still so terrified I could hardly get close enough to the edge to see the scenery.

I wanted to get some pictures, but the only way I could pull it off was to look in the opposite direction, squeeze my eyes closed, extend my arm as far as it would go and feel my way through the stones to blindly snap photos of the city. Pictures still came out beautifully.

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adenam
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I used to be terrified of strangers. Once I was at the library and needed to tell the librarian that I had lost my card. I was so scared of talking to her that I started sobbing. Now, thankfully it just makes me uncomfortable.

I also am terrified of vomit. If anyone around mentions being nauseous I will get nauseous and I can't watch people throw up in movies or on TV.

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DSH
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You know Speed, I would have a problem with leaning my head against a window like that (more so if it was a very large window). But the slots in the stonework of the cathedral would be exactly what I would need to feel comfortable at almost any height.
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Hobbes
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I had/have claustrophobia, though nothing nearly as extreme. I've tried to overcome it as it crops-up, though it's more about controlling my emotions and trying to keep it level when I feel the adrenaline surge, keep it from feeding on itself. I recently went on a ski trip where I spent four nights in snow-caves. That caused some issues: because of the short days it was 12 hours each day in the cave and having to sleep when you're combating claustrophobia is hard. I did manage it, which I was slightly proud of, but there were some moments where I really had to clamp down on my emotions; they came kind of close to spiraling out of control. As a side note one of the caves actually did collapsed, but luckily not when I was in it: it sunk in and dripped a lot but didn't actually collapse while I was sleeping in it.

I'm pretty convinced that my phobia devloped, or at least was helped along when I was quite young. I was playing in my parents bed for some reason, got under the covers and my sister held them down so I couldn't get out. She wasn't very old either, I don't blame her, but the feeling of panic as I realized I was trapped there has stayed with me all these years despite my incredibly terrible memory of childhood (as in can't remember anything). I still always try to come up with alternate ways of getting out of a place when it feels closed in.

I think that mountain thing is interesting. I grew up on the foothills of the Rockies so I never felt claustrophobic about that. However, I did spend a little over four months living in the bottom of a canyon and that did get to me after a couple of months but just enough to make me feel uncomfortable.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Jeorge
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Wow...this is a really interesting thread. [Big Grin]

Fear of heights: I can stand on Knife Edge at the top of Katahdin and look down a few thousand feet to Chimney Pond without batting an eyelash, but I hate being on rooftops.

Claustrophobia: Somewhat limited to tents - when I was a kid a tent collapsed on me and I couldn't find my way out. To this day I dislike tents and don't sleep well in them. (I say "somewhat limited to tents" because Hobbes' story about snow-caves made me nervous)

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Speed
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quote:
Originally posted by DSH:
You know Speed, I would have a problem with leaning my head against a window like that (more so if it was a very large window). But the slots in the stonework of the cathedral would be exactly what I would need to feel comfortable at almost any height.

I know, ridiculous, huh? Here's a picture of the top of the cathedral. Look at the door on the left for scale. Can you imagine anything safer? I still can't figure out what came over me that day.

Stupid brain... [Smile]

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Jeorge
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This morning we had some really dramatic thunderstorms, and it made me think how strange phobias are. A few years back I (well, actually my car) was struck by lightning while I was driving. It was a really frightening experience.

And you would think that after that, I would be terrified of thunderstorms. But no...I still think they are absolutely amazing and fun.

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PSI Teleport
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Hobbes: I find it interesting that you can't remember much of your childhood, considering the other similarities you and I have. I can't remember mine, either.
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Hobbes
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Huh, that is interesting. My (3 year older) sister is constantly reminiscing about our childhood and I never remember a single thing she talks about. It sometimes bother me, not that she remember and I don't, but how pervasive my memory loss is. I'm not exactly an old fogey (today is my 26th birthday) but already I remember next to nothing from High School. I hope that there's some hard limit to when the memory loss will stop (like everything after High School sticks) but it doesn't appear that way.

It's also strange because my memory of things I learned at any point in my life is, I've found, better than most. [Dont Know]

Hobbes [Smile]

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dabbler
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Just yesterday I was playing with some 3 year olds at a daycare. There was a book of photographs of insects (termites, bees, praying mantis, etc) and I was holding the pages on the edges to turn them. I know the therapy for my phobia but I refuse to do it (exposure and response prevention is highly effective).

I have a moderate fear of heights but not as bad as many. This story and pictures really freaked me out though. Sounds like the scariest non-gear hike ever.

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BlackBlade
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Happy Birthday Hobbes!
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