Finish this sentence: “My biggest fear is…”

A study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that between 8.7% and 18.1% of all Americans suffer from some sort of phobia.

Phobias are like opinions: Everybody has at least one. From the fear of clowns to the fear of polka dots, millions of phobia sufferers are tormented by the most inane things, and I am no exception.

Since nearly 19.2 million Americans suffer from phobias of some sort, I’m okay with admitting that I have a few. My anxiety levels are heightened by germs, disorder, clutter, ventriloquist’s dummies, the dark, tunnels, sharks, and the Statue of Liberty.  The reasons for being anxious about the items listed above will have to be addressed in another blog entry at another time. This post is already too long according to the blogging experts out there.

You might think that being afraid of Lady Liberty is a bit over the top, but there are some fairly strange phobias out there, so I don’t feel that any of my “issues” are that abnormal. But below are some phobias I discovered via my research, which could pose some serious difficulties.

Consecotaleophobia: Fear of chopsticks. These folks have actually been known to run out of Chinese restaurants screaming.

Zemmiphobia: Fear of the great mole rat. This phobia is puzzling in that there’s technically no such thing as the great mole rat. There are many other types of mole rats, such as the naked mole rat, and the blind mole rat, but I found nothing online at all to convince me of the existence of the great mole rat. Although when I found this photo of the naked mole rat, I can see why mere mortals would be afraid.

Naked Mole Rat

Getting back to phobias…

Anatidaephobia: Fear of being watched by a duck. Characters with this phobia have a real fear that no matter where they are or what they’re doing, a duck is watching them.

Phronemophobia: Fear of thinking. I know a few people with this one. I thought they were just stupid.

Nomophobia: Fear of being without mobile phone coverage. This phobia can cause a serious meltdown over losing signal, running low and/or out of battery and losing sight of the phone for just one second. I know a few people with this one too.

Optophobia: Fear of opening one’s eyes. Having to open their eyes is just too stressful for some individuals, thus they stay mostly at home.

Papaphobia: Fear of the Pope. Papaphobes refuse to go to Italy for fear of running into him. And the mere sighting of His Holiness in a photo or on television, cause these poor souls major heebie-jeebies.

Pentheraphobia: Fear of one’s mother-in-law. This one is a lot more common than you would think. I know people that have this one too. A lot of people.

Turophobia: Fear of cheese. These panic stricken citizens flee if they see so much as a slice.

Bagpipaphobia: Fear of Bagpipes. People with this phobia say there’s something petrifying about the way bagpipes just lie there, lumpy and furry with tubes sticking out of them.

Hylophobia: Fear of trees. Many in this phobic group can’t even think about wood without running for the hills—preferably hills with no trees.

Omphalophobia: Fear of belly buttons. These individuals are both repulsed and frightened by seeing or thinking about a belly button. And they jump through hoops not to look at their own. And the “button” never gets touched.

Alektorophobia: Fear of chickens. These odd birds (no pun intended) display extreme anxiety when thinking about farms. For most, even the mental image of a feathered bird is enough to cause a panic attack.

Asymmetriphobia: Fear of mismatched things. Socks that don’t match will send members of this phobic club into another time zone. Additionally, persons with this phobia can’t handle any two sides that don’t match, are uneven or out of whack.

Geniophobia: Fear of chins. For these peeps, chins are legitimately terrifying, and they tend to avoid face time.

Coprastasophobia: Fear of constipation. Many in this group are manically afraid of becoming constipated. Call me stupid, but this fear doesn’t seem that far of a stretch.

What causes me the most anxiety? It’s the fear of water, better known as Aquaphobia.

I’m not a 100% certifiable aquaphobe—I recognize that tubs and pools pose no imminent threat.  However, you would be hard pressed to find me anywhere near a pool at night.

And I might possibly have Antlophobia, which is the fear of floods, and/or Limnophobia, the fear of lakes. Oh and then there’s heliophobia, which is fear of the sun.

And this might be off topic, but in all likelihood, I also have cockroachaphobia.

But my real terror comes from any large body of water, including images of water on television, in paintings, photos, and movies.

I get the willies any time I watch the part in Disney’s Frozen, when Elsa and Anna’s parents drown when a massive storm overtakes their ship. I don’t know how young kids can watch that part. It scares the bejesus out of me.

While sunning on the beach in Jamaica a few years ago, my husband explained to me that exposure therapy was the first line of treatment for treating phobias.

I should point out that my husband was sunning. I was under an umbrella, clothed in a close-fitting, sun resistant body rash turtle neck top and long pants used for scuba diving, slathered with 60+ sun block and zinc oxide.

According to him, I needed to expose myself to the fearful environment and learn to “unlearn” my fear of water. He went on to suggest that I might want to consider exposing my body parts to the sun once in a while as well.

Exposing my body to the sun was not going to happen, since it took me forever to don my deep sea exploration gear. So I decided since the ocean was so incredibly blue and tranquil, and so clear that I could see everything that was happening in it, that I would give a try to floating around on it.

First, I put on my aqua shoes so I wouldn’t have to feel the bottom of the ocean. But really, the shoes were a complete waste of time and money, because I had zero intention of touching the ocean’s floor.

I plopped myself down on the float at the water’s edge, and my husband shoved me and the float into the water. I started to panic and hyperventilate a little, but I calmed down once my husband joined me on his own float. I still had dry mouth though.

I was kind of, sort of, settling down. That was until I noticed a fairly large sting ray swimming near my float. I screamed bloody murder, and vigorously and vehemently paddle whacked my way back to shore. Once I hit ground, I catapulted myself off the float, and dove head first into the sand.  Every single person within a fifty yard radius was staring at me.

As I crawled around on the beach, still screaming and flailing about, I looked down and noticed that my wet suit pants were askew and hovering below my thighs, with my whole front and back “package” hanging out. As I squirmed around on the sand, I wrenched the pants up so high they were almost to my chest. Then I slowly stood up, and brushed the sand off of my body, trying to compose and redeem myself. As I looked around I noticed a few people covering their mouths to keep from laughing.

When my husband got out the water he walked right past me like he didn’t know me, and later scolded me for causing such a humiliating scene.

It didn’t surprise either one of us when we didn’t make a single friend on that trip.

But at least I didn’t think a duck was stalking me.

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