Saturday, May 14, 2011

It Wouldn't Be an Irrational Fear of Bees If I Could Just Pull Myself Together, Would It?

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.


  1. First, let me say that I am the same way. I have gotten over the screaming phase generally because it bugs Arf so much.

    I once stopped to catch a tarantula in a paper bag for my mom to take to her elementary school class, but I don't know if I would have chickened out--a neighbor boy came along and did it for me.

    I have read that spiders only come indoors if there is some other kind of ants or termites or flies. I'd say bug bomb, but not to you. Natural repellents might be a good idea. The good news is that most spiders are harmless and you can easily identify the ones that aren't. They run or freeze from fright. Here's this giant creature that can crush them in a moment. Missy L was scared of a spider until I told her it was dead. Uncle J said she scared it to death!

    And yes, you get where you can kill them, but it does something to you. Outdoor spiders are generally beneficial, just startling. I leave them alone. Arf's theory is that once they come indoors they will keep coming back, so we kill those.

    You will want to check around your windows, outlets, and pipes, making sure any openings are sealed up. Or get Drek to do it, in case there are spiders in there!

    I have never watched the movie Arachnophobia. Just the thought gives me the CREEPS!

  2. I personally like to vacuum up the bugs that come inside my house. No touching involved. When we lived in LA for the summer we were sleeping on the floor on an air mattress and I woke up one night with a spider crawling across my face. Yuck Yuck Yuck. Good luck getting your house spider-free!

  3. So there is probably no way that that sister was me. Yikes. I have major spider-phobia. I'm sure you've heard my most embarrassing story ever where I burst into tears at a RS activity because of a spider. I'm getting itchy ticklies just reading your post. EW.

  4. That's funny: I'm sure it was you! We were pretty small: I'm going to guess four and six. Have you always had a major spider-phobia?

  5. My dad used to say that they live in the vacuum and crawl out again when they aren't looking. That would be some tough spiders but it might depend on whether your vacuum swirls the dirt or it just sits there. To be on the safe side, I sprayed Raid in the vacuum.

  6. The first time I really recall freaking out at a spider was my freshman year at college. I was working on the computer and one crawled over my hand. I had a full-on jump to the ceiling and stand on the couch and scream and scream and scream reaction. But I know I was scared in high school because a BF forced me to watch Arachniphobia but I could handle it. And now I can't even watch certain Harry Potter I guess it's gotten worse over time.
    I am usually profoundly proud of myself when I kill a spider and don't freak out. But I won't presume to be cured of my fear. Ever. I am impressed that you have killed so many so calmly. Way to go you!


If, in your comment, you do not use code names as I do in my blog, I will edit your comment before I post it.