Facing your Phobia

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I was reading an article in a magazine that discussed how phobias hold you back and leaves you missing out on so many good things.  My biggest phobia is expanses of water.  I can cope with the shower and a bath tub but anything more than that and I get a dizzy feeling, a headache and heart palpitations. I certainly couldn’t completely submerge my whole face/head underwater.

I’ve had it for quite a long time, and as far as anyone can tell, was not caused by anything traumatic.  My mother told me that when I was very young I used to be able to go in the sea and into a swimming pool, but I was never really comfortable and never learned to swim. I’ve often thought about trying regression therapy to see what may have caused it to help get over it. Maybe I was on the Titanic in a former life!

Over the years, I’ve missed out on opportunities to swim with my husband and daughter on holidays, to swim at the gym, or relax in a pool at a hotel.  I’m not keen on boat trips and have actively refused to go on them with friends, meaning I missed out on the all fun and frolics. 

I couldn’t even take my own daughter swimming when she was a baby, I had to get my parents to do it for me so that she didn’t get a phobia by osmosis.  Luckily primary and secondary schools did swimming lessons, and when she was older she had weekly swimming lessons at the local pool.

I remember the first time C and I went on a ferry to France.  I had explained everything to C and he had been mildly amused and thought I was exaggerating.  As the car drove off the jetty onto the boat, he looked over and said that he’d never seen anyone go so white so quickly.  We headed straight for the bar and I sank two, double, neat vodkas before I could even begin to relax enough to move, let alone go outside on deck.

When we were on holiday one time many years ago, with his two children, the tide was out a long way, and to get to it you had to wade through a large pool of water.  This pool ended up being about knee deep.  C had forged on ahead, and I was holding E and V’s hands.  I recall E shouting after C to come and rescue me as I was crushing her hand.

According to the article we are born with only two fears; falling and loud noises, everything else is a learned response.  It went on to say that phobias are caused by a shocking or traumatic event that leads to an aversion through memory response.

Whilst being fearful of some things is important for survival, many other phobias tend to be more irrational.  In the UK the top ten phobias according to Chrysalis Course are:

  • Spiders – 19%
  • Heights – 18%
  • Snakes and small spaces – 9%
  • The dentist – 8%
  • Crowds – 7%
  • Flying and vomit – 5%
  • Mice – 4%
  • Lifts/Elevators – 3%

So my particular phobia doesn’t even make the top ten.

The article gave suggestions on how to cure a fear of flying, spiders and heights.  All seem to have the same pattern:

  • Acknowledge it; reading around the subject; simulate the experience or therapist and breathing techniques; increasing exposure to the phobia.

I have often thought about joining a gym for 1-1 swimming lessons, ensuring that the instructor is aware of my phobia so that we can work slowly to overcome it.  Swimming seems such a good way to get exercise, something that we could do together when on holiday.

One day.


One thought on “Facing your Phobia

  1. As you know, I can’t swim either. But I don’t have the extreme fear that you do and am happy being in pools on holiday and paddling in the sea. Good luck with finding a swimming instructor to help. I’ve half-heartedly searched for years but they only seem available for children!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s