Thank you for the thread, OP. I've read every post and they have been a mixture of the fascinating and the repulsive, the amusing and the despairing.
And I can appreciate all of those emotions.
So, time to share mine.
I'll go into some detail as I think a bit of background can help.
Many people have mentioned heights and spiders. I have both these phobias. I don't mind seeing spiders in real life providing they aren't actually
close enough to touch me – or can jump close enough to touch me! – but occasionally while channel surfing on TV I've seen documentaries about them
with those huge closeup images of them face on with those fangs and the eight eyes and … Ohhhh...
It's just a picture on a TV screen. I know that. But it chills me to the very core.
Enough enough enough about spiders.
Deep breaths... Relax time. (I'm not kidding. This is hard to write.)
Okay, let's move on to heights.
When I was a kid I used to love going out into the hills near where we lived in the country and climb near-vertical rock faces along the local river.
No ropes or anything. Just free climbing. Sometimes it was 100ft or more (30-plus metres) but I just kept going till I reached the top and could stand
there and admire the view. Or else I'd visit an abandoned quarry and tackle one of the cliffs there. It never bothered me at all to be many body
lengths up a cliff face, climbing freehand. I loved it. I enjoyed the challenge and the freedom and the need to examine the cliff face and work out my
path up before I even started.
Then one fine sunny day when I was 14 years old, I was about a third of the way up one of my favourite quarry cliffs. I grabbed at a fingerhold and
the chunk of rock snapped off and came away in my hand. I was right on my balance point and by the time I'd thought “Oh, nooo
!”, I was
already over backwards and on my way down in a straight drop.
I fell about forty feet or so (13 or 14 metres) and it didn't seem to take very long. My life didn't flash before my eyes or anything like that; I
just remember feeling annoyed that I'd actually fallen for the first time ever, but before any fear of what was coming could take hold I hit the scree
slope, tumbled down literally head over heels and finished in some bushes.
So I dragged myself out of the bushes, got to my feet and dusted myself off. Aside from a few scrapes and bruises I was fine. It was only after a few
seconds that I looked back up the cliff and realized how far I'd dropped. I also realized I'd been pretty lucky but I never lost any sleep over
I don't recall trying any more climbs at that quarry after that event as I no longer trusted the rock faces, but I did some elsewhere and all seemed
hunky dory. I was a bit more cautious but didn't feel anything like a phobia.
A couple of years later I got interested in other things and so I didn't climb any more. But it was only as a mature adult that things really changed.
I began to feel more nervous about heights. Being in a plane never bothered me, but going to the edge of something high up sent a horrible “ewwww”
type shuddery-creepy feeling through me, right from my feet, up my legs and right up my spine.
Over the years it got worse and I finally had to accept it as a real phobia when one day back in 1993 my GF at the time took me to the top of the bell
tower at her home city's town hall. It had railings and all, but as she leant on the railing and happily pointed out the sights I just stood with my
back flat to the wall, less than a yard from the edge of the narrow walkway and nodded and tried to breathe.
I've survived a fall from a height that could just as easily have killed me. I know what falling feels like. Basically it's nothing but a sense of
being completely helpless. Once you start that fall, that's it. Until something stops you.
And I think that's what scares me. The edge the edge the freaking edge
! That solid material line between security and possible oblivion. Just
waiting there, always waiting.
I'm now at the stage that walking up stairs that have open gaps between them – it's terrifying. A friend of mine did up the attic in his house. One
day he invited me over to check it all out. I got half-way up his new stairs with their scary gaps and damned near froze – with a drop of a whole
There's more to mention but that's enough for now. I need a little break.
edit on 2/6/12 by JustMike because: typo. I have typophobia. I'm terrified of making typos...