I have a very vivid childhood memory of going to a playground with my sister and seeing a daddy long leg spider. My sister told me that daddy long leg spider's mouths are too small to bite humans, so we found a few more and let them crawl all over us. I remember thinking it was fun to watch the spider move and to look at it up close.
A few years later (still a young child, I'm thinking maybe ten?) I was playing a computer game in which the last level had you battling a giant spider. The game was in first-person perspective, and I remember freezing up: my heart raced, I began to shake and my thinking became fuzzy to the point where I couldn't play. I lost, and of course, tried the level again with the same results. After a few more tries and a lot of "What in the world is wrong with me?" I realized I just might have arachnophobia.
I don't know where it came from, although after reading a few books on childhood phobias I could hazard a guess. But ever since then I have an irrational fear of spiders. It's a very physical response: I immediately jump into fight-or-flight mode. But from repeated nightmares about spiders, I've also developed a metal response: AHHH! SPIDER! Run away before my body has time to physically react and/or I have a nightmare about it tonight!
Sometimes I wonder if it's become an all-mental thing. A few times as a teenager I tried to touch a spider; to let a daddy long leg spider crawl over me like I did in the park with my sister. I'll take a deep breathe and tell myself that it's fine, but the anxiety hits, I'll start shaking, my heart will race and my vision will become blurred. It's really weird.
If anything can cure me of my arachnophobia, it's this new house: There are spiders everywhere. When we first looked at this house: I walked into the guest bathroom and a huge spider came down from the ceiling right in front of my face. I did not go back into that bathroom until we had lived here for over a month.
In one twenty-four hour period, I killed five spiders, most of them outside. In another twenty-four hour period, I saw four spiders inside the house. Besides the spider in the bathroom, I've been handling it well: I kill them quickly with no physical response or I yell for Drek to come take care of it. I started, once again, to wonder if I was getting over my arachnophobia.
Today I was brushing my hair when I felt something tickle my arm. I looked down and there was a giant black spider crawling up my arm to my shoulder. The response was immediate and automatic. There was no thinking involved: I screamed louder than I have ever screamed before, brushed the spider off my arm and jumped up onto the bathtub in one fast motion. Drek came running in to save me.
Afterward, it took me a long time to calm down. It's been a few hours and I still jump every time I fell the smallest tickle.
So, still working on it.