Do You Have a Phobia?

Do you have a phobia? This is crazy/embarrassing, but I…

…havent ridden the subway in ten years. And I live in Manhattan.

As long-time readers know, Im very claustrophobic and have a phobia of elevators and subways. Ive had panic attacks on the subway and even thinking about it makes me shaky and short of breath. In the past, I could avoid subways relatively easily because we lived in downtown Manhattan, so we were central enough to walk or bike most places. I worked from home, so I didnt have to commute to work. When I needed to travel farther, I took the bus or biked (in rain/sleet/snow) or sometimes splurged on cabs or (often) decided not to go. Alex always said I didnt realize how much I shaped my life so that I didnt have to take the train, which I now realize is true. But now that were moving to Brooklyn and have two children, I feel like its time (to try my best) to get over it.

My sweet friend Gemma made a plan of attack: Were going to go out for drinks, then ride the subway, have another drink and ride it home. We will see how it goes! I would love to write about the process on the blog so that you will hold me to it. 🙂

Do you have a phobia? I asked some lovely women I know, and they revealed their irrational fears…

I have a fear of being grabbed by my ankles. Its so random! I do weird things, like check over my shoulder obsessively when Im walking up a long staircase and jump into my bed from a distance (in case someone is underneath). My brothers used to mess with me and grab my ankles when we were kids, and it would cause a complete meltdown. Sometimes when I hear scary stories or see something scary in a movie, my ankles get scared and I have to cross them for protection! Reagan

Milk. I know. I babysit on evenings and weekends, so I have to deal with milk all the time, but I hate it. When I have kids of my own, Im planning to breastfeed but just not look down. Gina

Caterpillars. Horribly, horribly phobic. Any kind…from inchworms to the wooly ones to the spiky ones. Mostly I run as fast and far away as possible. Like, I irrationally break into a sprint. As a kid, I used to avoid walking under trees because I thought theyd fall on me. Youngna

Im terrified of other peoples spit. I think its the grossest thing ever. For as long as I can remember, I havent been able to share a drink with anyone, not even from a straw. I imagine their spit germs multiplying in the beverage, doing a little celebratory dance like cartoon sea monkeys released into the sea. If someone takes a sip from my drink, I dont want to offend them, so I quietly put it down and never pick it up again. (Yes, somehow, I am still okay with kissing.) Caroline

Spiders. Even drawings of spiders make me feel panicky. Once I was reading the New Yorker, and there was an insurance ad with a photo of a spider. I completely freaked out. Now, before reading any magazines, I make my husband go through them and de-spider them. Cheryl

I HATE (slash wont do it slash have a legit panic attack) driving across bridges. Im fine with anyone else driving, but I myself cant drive over them. I hate that theres no shoulder, I cant stop or pull over, etc. Its more the lack of exit options than the height (as I feel the same way about crowded interstates). Its awful. If Im driving and approach a bridge, I pull over, get yelled at by my husband that I pulled over, then make him drive across. Or, more often, I just opt not to drive places. Sarah

I have trypophobia [ed. note: dont google it!]: fear of closely clustered porous circles. I usually see them in nature documentaries, at museums, or occasionally on food (like really seedy strawberries). Im not afraid of regular circles, but closely gathered circles that look like pores. It makes me super physically uncomfortable and itchy. Thinking about it literally sends shivers up my spine. Kate

I used to be very phobic of riding the elevator by myself. I could do it if someone else was in the elevator, but not alone. So Id get in the elevator and wait to see what floors the other people pressed, and then Id just get off at the floor closest to the floor I was going to and take the stairs the rest of the way. A few times I told complete strangers about my fear and asked them to ride the elevator with me. People were always very nice. It was during a very anxious time in my life; phobias were an extension of the general anxiety I was feeling. They lasted for about two years before they went away, and now I have no phobias at all. Lina

Nightmares about snakes are some of my earliest memories. The skinnier the snake, the scarier. Id rather be in a room with a python than with a garden snake. I encountered many snakes growing up in Mississippi, in the garage, on the patio, in the lake. Mississippi is a very snake-y place. I am terrified of a freshwaters edge. I never step in uncut grass, even in someones yard, without shoes. Im always on the lookout for areas where a snake could be when Im outdoors. Ive NEVER felt so TOTALLY FREE in the outdoors as when I was in Hawaii because they have NO SNAKES!!! I swam in the natural pools and tromped through the bamboo forests. It was glorious. Jessi

Do you have a phobia? Public speaking? Heights? Something super random? Spill the beans below…xoxo

P.S. How to get over a fear of flying, and the scariest elevator story ever.

(Illustration by Adrian Tomine)