Do you have any phobias? If so, have you had these phobias all your life or have the developed or evolved as you’ve aged?
Definition of phobia:” It’s an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. A phobia is not just being afraid or fearful of something. It’s extreme and/or irrational.”
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a fear of falling. I used to think it was fear of heights but it isn’t. I’m fine in a plane or an elevator even going up to the top of a skyscraper. In fact I have enjoyed the view from several towers over the years. But, I’m scared of going down an escalator. I can cope with going up but getting on one to go down is very difficult for me. I can’t climb a ladder past the first two or three steps and not at all if there is nothing to hold on to. As I’ve got older this seems to have become worse.
There are a lot of things that my fear has meant I haven’t tried. I never learned to ride a bicycle for example and I have never ridden in a chairlift. I’m fine with Observation Wheels and glass elevators though.
As you can imagine this makes everyday tasks difficult at times. Take changing light bulbs for example. The old house in Geeveston had high ceilings in half the house while in the other half the ceilings were about a foot lower. I could change some of the bulbs in those rooms but only if the fitting was near a wall so I could put my hand on it. The other part was more difficult. I used to be able to climb up on a table to do it but later, as kneeling became more difficult I was afraid to do that. I didn’t feel safe standing on the table even though I was on a flat, stable surface. I worried about how I would get down. David tried to support me while I used the ladder but I became panicky and had to come down. If you are wondering why he did not do the job it is because the ladder would not support his weight. In the end I would ask friends or even random tradespeople who came to the house to change a blown bulb for me. Thank goodness for long life globes.
If I have to use an escalator the only way I can get on it is to count myself on out loud. I feel anxious that I might put a foot on the join and be tripped up. I try to avoid using them so of course now that I don’t use them as often they frighten me even more.
I can no longer enjoy the view from the top deck of a bus. I can get up the stairs but coming down, especially if the bus is moving is too scary for me. It’s even worse if there is a narrow stairway or ladder on a boat for example where it’s necessary to come out backwards.
When I worked for the railways I had to climb out of trains that way a lot. I could do it then although I didn’t really like it. Now I’m twenty five years older and heavier and I just can’t do it anymore. I don’t trust my body I guess.
I guess some fear or caution now that I’m older is not that unusual but I have been this way for most of my life. I haven’t had a full blown panic attack but I have experienced an increased heart rate, and increased rate of breathing when attempting any of these things.