What is fear? Trusty Google says it’s the emotional response caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm.
What’s the difference between fear and phobia, are they one and the same? The general answer, according to experts, is no although there is a subtle difference between what fear is and what can be termed as a phobia. The main difference lies in the intensity and severity of the emotions experienced. A phobia is such that when the anxiety experienced by the fear is at such a level that it interferes with quality of life and the ability to function.
As a mum, I can say I have first had experience in the difference between a fear and a phobia. Bear Cub 1 developed a phobia of balloons when she was little (apparently its call Globophobia).
After doing this little bit of research into Fear v Phobia I feel I can confidently say that she had a phobia. The fear that she experienced in the presence of balloons did result in her ability to function. It wasn’t until her 2nd birthday party that it became a problem. She would not leave myside, if she could have climbed inside me, I think she would have. I know that this is a common thing, kids can get overwhelmed by a party in their honour and it can get frustrating when they don’t want to join in. We didn’t understand at this point that the numerous bear shaped balloons all around the room were the true reason of the out of character behaviour. It was the following week when we attended a friend’s party that it clicked for me. We got to the door and she froze at the sight of the balloons all over the floor. I literally couldn’t move her – there were no tears or tantrums just a pale face and stood stock still, we went home!
For the next 3 years, we had similar experiences. I tried all the bribery techniques I could manage, extra presents if she just went inside the room, not having to join in, threats of no party bags or cakes didn’t even change her mind. For her 4th birthday it had got to the point that she didn’t even want a party herself in case someone brought a balloon with them. People were always very understanding and would happily remove balloons from parties, or I would sometimes ask in advance so we could have the prep talk or just not go. We tried letting her play with the balloons before they were blown up, letting her feel them and showing her how to blow them up, letting them go so they’d fly around the room (making the silly fluffing noise). Seeing if popping them herself would help but nothing worked. Instead of just accepting it, we really pushed for her to ‘get over it’, and looking back now l feel a little bit guilty that we didn’t realise that she wasn’t able to rationalise the fear and it truly was a phobia.
As the years have gone on, at 8 years old, she able to understand how to control her emotions better. It doesn’t affect her going to parties anymore and when she is in control of the balloons she will happily have them at the house and play with them, but recently we were at a party and the balloons kept popping – I could see her little face, eyes wide open and she looked straight at me for reassurance – I’d say that phobia has turned to a fear but one that she can cope with.
Apparently the top 10 fears are:
- Arachnophobia – The fear of spiders
- Ophidiophobia – The fear of snakes
- Acrophobia – The fear of heights
- Agoraphobia – The fear of open or crowded spaces
- Cynophobia – The fear of dogs
- Astraphobia – The fear of thunder and lightning
- Claustrophobia – The fear of small spaces
- Mysophobia – The fear of germs
- Aerophobia – The fear of flying
- Trypophobia – The fear of holes
Every family has a list of fears, for us Nannie is scared of snakes, trees and small spaces, Gaga doesn’t like spiders, and it’s a running joke that my sister has a fear of apples!!! What are your fears / phobia’s, are they run of the mill or does anyone have anything a little more off the wall that sends the shivers down your back?
Personally I have 2 fears – blood (Hemophobia) and large birds, as in geese, swans, peacocks etc. (Ornithophobia) Both of these are irrational fears that have grown and grown as I have never dealt with them.
Large birds give me the hebejebes. Their big flapping wings, the horrible sounds they make, those beady eyes staring – yep, I’m not a fan. We are fortunate to live in a very lovely area where there are some beautiful places to visit, however this often entails geese or swans. I try to not let it bother me, and still visit nice places, trying my best not to let the kids see my fear, but when Bear Cub 1 was little I pulled up at Roath Park, started getting the buggy out the car and the geese were pecking at the car door handle – I got back in the car and drove off. Safe to say I only go to these places now when we are en masse, and I can hide in the middle of the group!
I believe the ‘fear’ of blood came from an incident when I was 7 years old. I was stood in the school canteen when the wind blew the door closed and I caught my finger. It was cut off and the dinner lady stopped the blood flow with cotton wool. This was obviously not the right thing to do and when we got to the hospital is was quite a traumatic experience to clean the wound. Long story short, I think from that moment I have never been comfortable around blood, the sight of it make me feel physically sick and even writing this now has left me feeling queasy.
When Bear Cub 1 cut her chin open the amount of blood was unbelievable, she was so calm showing me how much there was on the tea towel, laughing at it dripping on her lap, asking the Doctor if he had a mirror so she could watch what he was doing. I on the other hand had gone very pale, sweaty and woozy – the Doctor asked me if I was going to faint if I could leave the room as then I’d be someone else’s problem (he was joking – I hope!) but I did have to sit down and just give reassuring words from the other side of the room.
When I was having the epidural when in labour with Bear Cub 2, the giant needle going into my back didn’t faze me at all, but when the nurse put in the cannula in my hand and blood started pouring out (probably one drip, I am a little dramatic) I was in a right state. As the nurse was saying “wow look at all that blood, you’re a very good bleeder, it’s all over the floor,” I remember looking at my husband trying to telepathically tell him to shut her up! It’s not as though the blood is going to do anything to me, it can’t get up and bite me or wrap itself around me, hence why it is so irrational, but I guess like a lot of people’s fears you can’t always kerb the emotions that you experience.
A few weeks ago the blood bank was local and I thought I’d man up and take the plunge to give blood. I am fully supportive of the NHS and all that our medical services do for us, so if this small act by me one Friday afternoon, giving up an hour of my time and a pint of my blood, could go some way to save the life of someone then I was more than prepared to do it.
As a mum I try to lead by example (the kids say they don’t like peas but I make them eat them, so it wouldn’t go down very well for them to see a pile of onions left on my plate where I have picked them out as I can’t stand onions, I just grin and bear it and gulp them down). The children are well aware of how I feel regarding blood so I felt that it was important for them to come along and see that by facing your fears you can accomplish anything, hoping that seeing mum being brave would help them face situations head on that they may not feel 100% confident with in the future.
Leaving that day I felt so proud, not just of myself but how understanding the children were; holding my hand, reassuring and distracting me, asking the nurses to look after me and taking it all in. They both want to give blood when they are old enough now, “to help out the poorly people”
I read an interesting article recently, by Tiny Buddha, on how to face your fears and not let them over shadow your life. This is certainly something that I will act upon and take forward with my own fears and any that my crop up for the kids.
- Get comfortable with fear.
- Make your dominant thoughts positive.
- Don’t give time, attention, or energy to fear
- Never dwell on scarcity
- Revisit your victories
- Live vicariously through the victories of others
- Ask your family and friends for encouragement
- Create a support group of friends or colleagues
- Plan to be great
The recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester have made me realise now more than ever, that you should wake up every day and do something different – be it as simple as change your cereal or a little more daring such as facing a fear of heights and go sky diving. We shouldn’t live in fear, be brave, whether it’s something we can manage ourselves or something that is truly out of our control, Life is for living and that’s what we should do. Embrace change, embrace what you have and roll with it, you never know what it may lead to – Because that’s what mums do!