I have a phobia. (Well, I have several, but here's the one that's hung around the longest.) It all started, as far as I can tell, when I got Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as a kid. For the uninformed, RMSF is something like Lyme disease in the fact that it's transmitted by ticks, but unlike Lyme disease RMSF can only be contracted once. To make a long story short I came down with this illness, went into a coma and was hospitalized in ICU for two weeks. I still have a small, faded scar on my right arm from the IV...but that's another story for another time.
Anyway. My phobia is/was stomachahes. The connection between stomachaches and RMSF is that we theorized that the 'good' bacteria and flora in my stomach was destroyed when I was sick, thus making me more vulnerable to said stomachaches. It may seem like a silly phobia, but from the time I was 7 or 8 (when I was sick) to until about a year ago I was plagued almost daily with terrible, crippling belly-aches. Activated charcoal became my dear friend during this time-period. XD And although I never actually threw up I was always afraid that I would--this forced me to make back-up plans wherever I went should I get ill, refuse to eat at certain hours of the day, and scout out crowded rooms for trash cans and 'getaway' paths. Yes, I was paranoid. And I can't tell HOW many times we had to leave people's houses in the evening after being struck with an impromptu stomachache. They also liked to strike at places like plays, movies, and wherever there were lots of people and/or I felt trapped.
As I think of it, perhaps a lot of them were borne out of anxiety and nervousness from being in a new place? Like colic in a horse? I dunno. They were crippling, whether borne of nervousness or otherwise.
Like I said, this lasted for about 10 years. Countless trips to the doctor never shed any light on the subject, and the only thing that kept the stomach issues at bay was not eating at certain times and ingesting obscene amounts of activated charcoal. (For the unaware, activated charcoal is wonderful for food poisoning, over-indulgence (sometimes), and sucking poison out of wounds) In the last year the stomachaches have faded, but I still automatically scan rooms and carry tablets of activated charcoal. Although the latter I don't do so much anymore--I've tried to 'wean' myself off of it for the past couple of years out of fear that by taking them so much I was somehow continuing to deplete the 'good' bacteria from my stomach and creating a vicious cycle. Or something. See, I may be cheerful but I worry a lot too. XD
What brought on this musing was a line in a John Mayer song, 'War of My Life'. I can't remember what the line was now, but I started scribbling down a musing on fear in general and then began babbling about my OWN fears. (Mostly because I identified so much with what my thoughts were musing on.) My thought at the time was the fact that people, when afraid of something/someone/whatever, actually 'kill' a part of themselves. If they allow fear to take root and thrive through minor anxieties it decreases the quality of life because they begin to plan around whatever they're afraid of, let it dictate what they can or cannot do, and mistake THEMSELVES for what they've become. And by identifying with their fear, a person overlooks what they REALLY are--by letting it rule them, through passivity or otherwise, they choose to be helpless.
And as I mused about this, I realized that this was me some time ago. When scared about things I let them dictate my thoughts and perceptions with the lingering thought in the back of my mind of 'what if?' I would say what helped me really start to grow out of this letting myself be ruled was training horses--another one of my phobias was dealing with unruly horses, being afraid of falling off or getting hurt. And while I HAVE gotten hurt in the past I decided that I didn't want that to happen again. So, instead of letting my fears dictate my actions (i.e. be passive and avoid what makes me afraid) I faced it head-on starting with Colletta. She had a HORRIBLE habit of running up to the barn, so I read up on how to re-train a spoiled horse and spent two years working on her. The beginnings were messy--oh, were they ever messy. My arms would be like spaghetti from fighting her, and she would be a sweaty, angry beast, but after a few weeks of persistently getting on her and duking it out things started to change. She began to be more responsive, she wasn't fighting so hard. Things started to improve. And with the positive changes beginning to happen in THAT area, I began applying it to other parts of my life--notably, the stomachaches. I observed what seemed to be triggers of a stomachache, and avoided them. I made myself go without charcoal, just to see if I could; I made myself sit them out and refused to go lie down (my most common recourse). And little by little, the stomachaches faded in severity until they have gone away (mostly) for good.
(I used this method when I was terrified of riding Violet after falling off and getting a concussion last year--it took me three months of ground-work, but by working with her and refusing to be passive I can now ride her without fear. It's good to take the active route. ^-^)
I don't know if my actions coincided with naturally growing out of this affliction, or if I had a hand in bringing it about. And old habits DO die hard--I still scan rooms for trash cans and 'escape routes', even though I've never had to use either. But it makes me feel better to have some sort of 'backup-plan'. XD
Your semi-paranoid hostess,