Having worked as a first aider for a few years, I have seen my fair share of panic attacks. I have also had a few of my own, but luckily for me I know what they are and how to take control of them. The last one I had was about a year ago when I tried to get into a stand-up sun bed.
OK, I know they are bad for you. I don’t do this often, just a little bit of UV now and again seems to help with my problem skin. But also, it just feels nice to get that warm glow. Or at least that warm glow was the happy feeling I was remembering from my last sun bed, some time back in my twenties when I didn’t seem to have so many fears. In fact, I don’t think I was really aware that I was mortal back then. A decade later and I see the potential danger in almost everything, and I seemed to have developed a problem with small spaces, and maybe high-voltage too.
I find this so weird, because I actually used to quite like cosiness of a small space – these days they make me panic. I first came to realise this when I couldn’t force myself into the sun bed. The thing that tipped me over the edge on this occasion was that this model of sun bed only started up when the door was closed – I suppose for health and safety reasons, so that UV light wouldn’t affect anyone outside of the sun bed. Nice idea I guess. But for me it meant that I had to seal myself into a tiny space, full of electricity and a noisy fan, that I couldn’t see into because of the darkness. Well, you can see when the door closes and the tubes light up, but then, dun dun DUN… it could be too late. As I stood there in my undies, one trembling hand on the door, I imagined paramedics and fire crew peeling my charred and semi-naked remains off the light tubes after some horrible freak combustion had occurred. Hmm… a little paranoid you may be thinking? Yeah, that’s fair enough! And the stand-up ones are the lesser of two evils in my mind. The lay-down ones just look like giant sandwich toasters, and that freaks me out too.
But that is phobias for you, they are not rational. Anyway, I’m not here to moan, I hate that, i’m hear to share my moment of fist-pumping victory with you. Today I had a whole 3 and a half minutes of fake sun! I paid for 5, and spent the first minute and a half just getting a hold of my breathing – and then I went in. I was in a different booth this time. When I put my hand on the door and pulled it open, the light tubes didn’t go out – woohoo! I had a different and less scary model!
As small and insignificant as it may sound to some, I had a little victory today. And I intend to keep going with all my irrational fears. Not the rational ones – they serve a purpose! Next on the hit list is spiders. It’s on my bucket list to hold a tarantula, not because I want to (gross), but because that is my measure of knowing when I have beaten it. Beaten the phobia I mean, not the tarantula. I’m not planning to have a fight with it (shudder).