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How Arachnophobia Affects My Life

I woke up in the middle of the night, for whatever reason I don’t remember. I turned on the lights and out of the corner of my eye a dark movement scurried across my retina. My fight-or-flight response took over and unfortunately it was flight that was prompted. I jumped, heart out of my body. My body reacted based on my past trauma dealing with these monsters. I literally jumped and screamed. My body took over my mind. All rationale and logic went out the window.

These “monsters” I am so afraid of are spiders. All shapes and sizes. I’m not one to judge by size, but the fatter the scarier. This one I saw out of the corner of my eye was huge (at least to me). Now I was staring face-to-face with this monster. I tried to tell myself anything logical but I couldn’t control how I truly felt. I felt complete terror — like I was going to die. This was it. The spider would win and I would be a goner. Tears came out like a flood and breathing became impossible. My panic attack hit in waves. During a wave of more “bravery” I looked for things to throw at the monster. Bravery quickly went away as I found nothing helpful I could use as a weapon. Periods of crying and periods of thinking of what can I possible do to get out of this situation came in quick succession. I thought “I’m alone in this,” “no one can save me,” “I’m going to die here.” These thoughts, no matter how illogical, felt so real for me in that moment. When the monster began to move I would think: “it’s coming after me,” “no, no, it’s more afraid of me than I am of it” and “no, it’s totally after you!” I had to get out of there before the monster moved again.

I was ready for war. Like a 6-year-old trapped in a 26-year-old body, I grabbed my teddy bear because good old Teddy could help me defeat the monster. And Teddy did. I went back to my childhood self and felt safe with Teddy in my arms. I got my boots on and used my guitar case as a blockade. I ran through my fear to the other side of the door. Slammed the door behind me with it still in there. “Fine you win! Have my room!”  It could have my room. I could lose as long as I didn’t have to see it anymore.

Writing about this now I can still feel the “creepy crawliness” of my skin. I couldn’t go back in there. Who knows where the monster was now. I would never sleep again! And I truly believed that. That’s not an over exaggeration. I wanted to cry to my mommy and I felt like I was going to pee my pants. There’s nothing more terrifying than believing that your life is being threatened.

For people with a fear of spiders — this fear is very real. Don’t tell us to get over it. We feel hopeless and even “crazy” in those moments. I felt so ashamed about how I was reacting. No one else would react this way. Most people would just kill the thing. If I could just do that then I could have my room back! Why didn’t I just kill it? I couldn’t. I really couldn’t. I wanted to of course, but I just could not.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been deathly afraid of the monsters. I think the monsters knew my fear and decided to torture me. My room was the haven of the monster tribe. I experienced sleepless nights. Even when I didn’t see one, I would just lay helpless knowing one would crawl out of the vent sooner or later. My mom tried everything in her power to help me overcome my battle with the monsters. She gave me a “cute” looking spider stuffed animal. All I learned was that garden spiders are good. Those are the less scary monsters, but still not by much. I still struggle with the fear. Depending on the situation, I either act like a frightened child or a warrior. At least now I can be a warrior sometimes. I don’t want spiders to win. I don’t want them to take over my life.

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