Paranoia, paranoia

Fears of all sizes should be taken seriously


Illustration by Margaret Debenport

Story by Addison Cross, staff writer

It started when I was young. I would see one and become paralyzed. My heart stopped as shaky hands lifted a shoe off my foot. My hand raised the shoe behind my head, but it never came back down. Instead, a piercing scream enveloped the room, and before it can move, my dad rushed to my side to exterminate the problem.  

Spider. Its word sends chills down my spine. My toes curl at the sound and sight of it, and I feel disgusting.

I don’t know what event led to my phobia, but I remember having a problem when I was young. They haunted me in my dreams, my daily life. They hid in toy boxes. They sat in the corners of the kitchen, hoping not to be discovered so they could strike covertly and unexpectedly. They lived on the outside of windows, looked into my house- watching, waiting.

My first memory was from when I was about 8 years old. I was playing in my room when I went to grab a doll and felt something latch onto my hand. I looked down and screeched. That definitely wasn’t my favorite Barbie.

This isn’t something you can escape. It’s everywhere at all times. There are approximately 40,000 species in the world, with around 3,000 species living in the United States. That’s a lot, and with so many species, you have so many habitats. These things live practically everywhere. Underground, showers, trees, deserts, beaches. You name it, they’re there.

This fear is romanticized and warped into a stereotype. People poke fun at the girl who screams when she sees a bug, but there’s nothing funny about being so terrified of something you don’t even feel like you can speak. People leave toys in places you’re going to find them or someone runs their hands down your back to mimic their disgusting eight legs, you become paranoid. My experiences of being mocked with this one thing has led to me being a dramatically jumpy person, afraid of my own shadow and yelping when someone puts their hand on my shoulder. Anything out of the usual sends me into a temporary shock.

This phobia seems miniscule and easily overcome, but it’s a problem. According to MentalHealthy, 55 percent of women and 18 percent of men have some sort of arachnophobia– how serious is undetermined. It’s something people struggle with and it should be taken that way.