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.
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 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.