“Face your fears!” No thanks, I’ll just hide under my duvet

‘’Scary films really scare me… will you watch Insidious with me?’’

Okay, I admit it. I am one of those people who will pretend to love scary films and laugh at them, but when it comes to 3am I’m boiling hot under my duvet too scared to come out because there will be a small mutant Japanese girl at the end of my bed waiting to kill me with her eyes.

I know for a fact I’m not the only one who does this, but I’m definitely one of the few who will admit it. There’s always some new horror film out in the cinema to see, usually another round of Paranormal Activity or some form of Exorcism going on. I always end up scaring myself with the trailer, going to see it and ending up thoroughly disappointed, and then shaking in my bed when everything goes quiet and all I can hear are creaks. I’m even scaring myself a little bit now.

In reality I know it’s highly unlikely I’m going to watch a killer video tape or fall into ‘another world’ and have my body possessed by an ancient demon, but that still doesn’t stop me being unreasonably scared.

As human beings, we all have our phobias, some more common than others. Being afraid of spiders, heights and the dark may be laughable to some but to others the mere thought of them can be beyond petrifying. Like a good little journalist I’ve done my research and found that these are called specific phobias, pretty self explanatory. These phobias are considered to be irrational, such as the common fear of needles and injections, also known as Trypanophobia.

Although technically deemed irrational, these common fears seem normal to us as people are far more likely to have them, making them seem a lot more reasonable than some of the things others are scared of.

Ablutophobia is the fear of bathing, washing and cleaning. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be difficult to tell who has this fear. Oikophobia, or the fear of home surroundings and household appliances, Omphalophobia, the fear of navels and Papaphobia, the fear of the Pope are examples of the slightly more irrational fears.

Some people have deeper reasons for why they’re afraid of what they are. For example, laugh as much as you want, but my personal biggest fear, besides dying alone at the age of 86 and being eaten by my 29 cats, are killer whales.

Okay, let me explain. Besides having the word KILLER in their name (otherwise known as orcas), I went to Florida to visit family as a child, and as you might of guessed, we were taken to Seaworld. I was so excited to see all these amazing animals none of my friends had seen!  As soon as it started and this big black blur swam past me, my heart immediately started pounding and I couldn’t tell if I was petrified or ridiculously excited. Those horribly enthusiastic trainers came through the crowd looking for kids to come and feed the whale (with a fish, not themselves).

Of course, I was chosen and was led down the steps toward the pool, the trainer stood on the platform and worked whatever whale magic they do to get the orca to come over and open its mouth.

This was when it hit me. This massive creature had a tongue bigger than I was, it had thousands of horrible teeth and its throat looked like it could’ve been the gates to hell. I then had to pull a fish out of a bucket and throw it into the orcas mouth. I was so scared I just shut my eyes and prayed that the fish would go in the whales’ mouth so it wouldn’t eat me instead. Unfortunately the fish flew straight over the creature’s mouth and hit it on the head, sliding into the pool.

To this day I cannot swim in the sea in fear that the whale has somehow escaped from SeaWorld, swam across the Atlantic and is lurking in the shallows waiting for me.

Reading this back, I do admit it sounds utterly ridiculous, however as much as I, and others laugh at it, I still can’t help being scared of them. I also realise it’s highly unlikely I’m going to come in contact with a Killer Whale any time soon, unless I decide to go for a dip in the Arctic or they learn to live on land and take over the world, both extremely unlikely. I hope.

There are many self help techniques people use to help with their phobias. ‘Face your fears’ is a common phrase, but it’s truly easier said than done. Most of us grow out of our phobias, but for some they can be seriously life changing. For example, the fear of flying may stop someone from pursuing a career or a lifelong dream, simply because they are so scared of going on an airplane, for whatever reason. Hypnotism, breathing and relaxation exercises are other methods used to help cure fears.

Next time I’m at the seaside, hopefully I’ll remember to take a deep breath, challenge any negative thoughts by thinking ‘’realistically, is there going to be a Killer Whale lurking in the beaches of West Wittering who remembers what I look like and is going to eat me?’’ and I’ll be able to paddle peacefully.

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