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10 December 2016 | Post A Comment

The way phobias are presented in media and society really pisses me off. On I’m A Celeb, every ‘celebrity’ is asked what their phobias are and most of them respond with a list. I can not possibly imagine what it must be like to have multiple, true phobias. One is more than enough for me. 

I have had a phobia of swans for as long as I can remember. It was definitely a true phobia for at least 10 years and now I would say it is probably borderline after lots of therapy. 

For most of my life I have avoided going near bodies of water where swans might be. I have countless stories of how I have run away screaming from various situations involving swans.

You probably don’t think swans are all that common but once you have developed a deep fear for something, you will notice that thing everywhere.

It wasn’t just real swans in person that terrified me. Swans on television, photos of swans, models of swans, mentioning swans could all bring on extreme panic attacks. There were times I couldn't watch television with anyone other than my family for fear a swan would come on and I would start hyperventilating. I had a list of films and tv programs that I could not watch (The Notebook, Hot Fuzz, You’ve Been Framed, nature programs, anything involving canals or lakes) and places I couldn’t go. My high school had to take down all artwork of swans off the walls after one time I didn’t quite manage to keep it together and ended up a screaming hyperventilating mess on ‘swan corridor’.  

It was just another thing that ruined my life that felt like I had no control over. 

I tried to learn everything I could about swans. I thought this would give me the superior edge over them. Did you know a swan will mate for life? You might think this is quite nice but it’s only an evil plan to maximise it’s potential offspring. Swans can fly as fast as 60 miles an hour and if you ask me that’s just way too fast. If you have a phobia of something, every aspect of that thing is terrifying. The fear of the thing overpowers everything else and defies all reasoning. It is completely irrational and extreme. It is not a simple fear. 

Therapy was exhausting. I had to start by reading books about swans until my anxiety calmed to a manageable level. I then worked up to sitting in a car in a car park near a lake. Weeks later I stood within eye sight of the swans until the panic peaked and then faded. Through this exposure therapy I am so much better than I was. Phobias are relatively simple to treat compared to other mental illnesses but that doesn't mean it's easy. It's terrifyingly difficult. 

Please, stop saying you have a phobia if you don't. It leaves us truly terrified phobics feeling even more isolated in our irrationality than we already do.

1 comment:

  1. I once had a dead spider thrown at me (a pretty tiny one) and went into full on 4 hour hysterics. Anyone who tries to tell me to 'get over it' is asking for punch. There's no bloody 'getting over it' and people need to accept phobias are a real thing to some people, they're not just a harmless fear or freaking out.