Monday, February 22, 2010

My irrational fear


I didn't realize how irrational it was till my sister started asking me probing questions. Let me back up for a second. My parents had rented a van when we were in India. A typical 6 seater van and Jeff and I got in the very back because I thought I would sleep. Once my mom and sister got in the middle and closed the doors, I felt like the walls were closing in. I couldn't breathe. I actually started crying. Jeff held my hand till we could stop someplace and then we switched. And, for the rest of the trip, mom and sis sat in the back and I sat right next to the door I could jump out of quickly if needed. Uh yes I am crazy, why do you ask?

Now, my sister asked how I handle planes. A very good question. I actually don't handle them very well. If I was to sit down and ponder over a plane and how many people are on there and how many exits and how tiny the aisles are, I would probably never fly again. I literally have to work at NOT thinking about that even when I am on a plane. I think this is why I cannot sleep on a plane. I did not sleep for the 26+ hours it took for us to fly from LAX to New Delhi. I read, I eat, I watch movies. I do not sit doing nothing and I can not sleep.

I don't think people understand that. I don't think I understand it. If I can keep myself from thinking about it in a plane, why not in a car? I controlled it when I had to sit in the back of a 2-seater with luggage on me, at my feet and packed in the trunk (why is the trunk important? Because if wasn't full of fricking luggage, I could somehow crawl out that way, don't you know?) for a 2 hour ride. I can control it when I am in the dark underground tunnels in a Metro. I can usually keep from screaming bloody murder in a jam packed elevator. Now, if it got stuck between floors, I think I'd claw my way out somehow.

Maybe it was the accident? Maybe being stuck in a car, even in a driver seat, without being able to get out made it that much worse for me to feel helpless in the back seat of a van without any visible exit.

Or, maybe there's no reasoning, maybe it's just irrational. Isn't that what a phobia is?


Karen Butler Ogle said...

I've been claustrophobic since I was just a child. My mother was abusive, especially when I was very small and I have to wonder if at some point she didn't cover my face to keep me from crying. I cant stand to have anything close to my face. I cant sit in the backseat of a car if I'm not beside a door. I wont get on an elevator if it is the least bit crowded.I can have a panic attack just from a stuffy nose. I've been addicted to nasal spray for years and use it liberally to keep that suffocating feeling at bay. It may be an irrational fear but it is one that many people share.

Syl (previously known as Shib) said...

Thank you for your comment Karen!