Assorted Phobias

I don’t think I’m terribly neurotic, and I don’t have a lot of phobias. I’m not afraid of flying, even though I don’t really like it because it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient. I don’t fear heights, and depsite my extreme distaste for them, I also don’t exactly fear large crowds. I was even spared the most common phobia of all: the fear of public speaking. I prefer not to do it very often, because I don’t think I’m very good at it, but the thought of speaking in front of a crowd doesn’t give me panic attacks either.

There are things I’m afraid to do, like riding on motorcycles, or using drugs, or watching “Friends” re-runs, but those are rational fears, involving things which really are dangerous and could cause me great harm.

As far as debilitating irrrational fears go, I’m limited to two really big ones.

Number one is simple and not really all that debilitating. I cannot watch a hypodermic needle pierce skin, whether live, on TV, or in a movie. I just can’t do it. The only time this was really a problem was when I got out of the hospital in 2001 and had to give myself injections of a blood thinner for a week. Either way, this phobia pretty much guarantees I’ll never be an IV drug abuser.

The second is related to claustrophobia. The thing I fear most in this world is being in an enclosed space where I can’t stand up or move. I’m not talking about elevators; they don’t bother me. I mean things like crawl spaces, the trunks of cars, full-body casts, or the Jefferies tubes on a starship. An MRI, of course, would be out of the question for me without complete sedation — or, oddly enough, unless they’d let me stand up and be vertical in the tube. I know a lot of people would find these situations uncomfortable, but they fill me with such an overwhleming sense of panic that I sometimes even have trouble going to sleep if I’m exposed to something on TV just before bed which makes me think of it.

The third is a little more obscure. I’ve talked about my phone phobia before. I’m not a huge fan of talking on the phone in general, but what freaks me out most of all is making unexpected calls to people I don’t usually speak on the phone with. The idea of making the call and asking for the specific individual I need to speak with can cause a sense of dread which can keep me from thinking of anything else for days in advance.

This fear doesn’t apply either to complete strangers nor to people I know well and call regularly. I don’t have a problem with making business calls. And if I know the person on the other end is expecting me to call at a certain time, I’m fine. The problem comes when I call relatives or acquaintances I’m just not used to speaking with and do it “out of the blue”. Maybe I’m worried I’m bothering them, or maybe it’s because I don’t know what they really think of me, or whatever.

Yes, I know it’s irrational. I also know it flat out terrifies me and can make me break out in a cold sweat. In fact, before the advent of email, it probably kept me from going on numerous second dates. It’s also why I’m so anal about writing thank you notes to my aunts and uncles rather than just calling to thank them.

Sorry. I haven’t revealed any neuroses here in a while, and I figured I was about due…