For some it’s flying in an aeroplane. Others freak out at mice and rats but some of us have even more irrational fears like the noise of polystyrene or the feel of cotton wool or being near an inflated balloon (come to think of it I’m not comfortable with that last one myself, especially when there’s an exuberant toddler nearby).
Yes, I’ve been watching Extreme Phobias on TV, recorded some months ago and just catching up now. And the treatment for these things seems to be to expose the sufferer gently and gradually to the thing that terrifies them most.
One woman featured on the programme was so afraid of heights she couldn’t look out of her bedroom window. They started her treatment by asking her to climb a small stepladder.
The one thing that tends to unnerve me happens mostly at this time of the year. I wouldn’t exactly call it a phobia – let’s just say my personal alertness is heightened to the threat of – spiders. Yes, you may laugh at the word ‘threat’ there and I can’t explain it either. It’s GUBU as a former Taoiseach once said – grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented. Although he was talking about something else entirely.
It’s not as if I remember being face to face with a big spider when I was little or had one crawl all over me or anything like that. When I’m outside in the garden, I have no problem at all batting them out of the way, even without gardening gloves on. Snails, slugs, woodlice, millipedes, you name it, any mini-beast I am fine with. But there’s something about seeing a spider indoors in a confined space that makes me shiver.
At one time the mere sight of one would have turned me rigid with fear, paralysed and unable to walk past the creature but I’m getting better about that as I get older and can accept an arachnid isn’t going to do me any harm. It’s probably more afraid of me than I am of it. I also try to remind myself that they are great little house guests for dealing with other, more unwelcome beasties like flies. As long as they stay out of sight.
Perhaps it’s that with that older age comes failing eyesight and I just don’t notice them the way I once did. Embarrassingly, I recently called for my husband to come into the kitchen to remove a huge spider from the kitchen worktop. A ‘spider’ that turned out to be the top stem part of a tomato.
Then someone once gave me a gift of a spider catcher. It’s a pyramid shaped thing on a stick that you set over the top of the creature and then gently close the sliding door so it’s trapped. (A version of the glass-and-piece-of-paper disposal method). The trouble is those big spiders we see more of these days are so quick they seem to escape it every time.
Autumn is approaching and this is the season when they do their darndest to get into the house for shelter from the cold and rain (well, wouldn’t any of us?) They also are looking for a mate – I’ve had at least five in my house in the past couple of weeks, massive and very, very fast.
I read that it’s due to climate change – warmer summers have allowed them to survive longer and grow bigger –which isn’t what I need to hear, really.
Nothing for it but to keep calm and carry on, until Incy-Wincy leaves the house again.