Aa
A
A
A
Close
Anxiety Community
23k Members
424549 tn?1308519102

Getting closer to exposure

Hi! Thanks for much feedback last time I posted about my phobia-issues. I've understood a whole lot more of it. It takes rational thinking.....

Thing is: It's Wednesday. The upcoming Saturday my family and I are going to the cave of horror - a zoo! I've been there once before, for my daughter. You know zoo's - they are filled with the widest range of animals one can imagine. My favorites are penguins, but going to the zoo means: Exposure to snakes. Don't come and tell dreadful stories now *lol*. I have enough of people who tell how harmless they really are. I KNOW they're harmless but my head won't go along with that. I have come as far as being able to open a book and watch at least the body of the creeps.... Head and underside - no way, I don't BELIEVE that I can go that far. I've got to force through this, right?
I want to be able to watch those cute disney movies (I have been as bad as to close my eyes periodically during the Jungle book - go ahead laugh, my daughter does :-p ).....

I'm ready to drop my phobia. I have nothing to fear, but.. well.... yes! To escape exposure on Saturday? I won't, even if I so dearly want to! Hubby's going to have to hold my sweaty hands (he's the one that came up with this brilliant idea anyways).

Right now I don't even know why I post this - general update on me and how I'm coping? There is a thread here somewhere that encourages to post accomplishments but my head tells me I will start shivering like a leaf as soon as we come to the entrance of the zoo. What do I do when I just can't find the rational thoughts?! I won't count days or hours. Is it possible to just pretend I'm alright, is that the way to come through exposure? *lol*
Another way could be to scream and yell and cry BEFORE and be done with the reactions, step in and - geeesh, I'll definitely sap out!

Florena
4 Responses
370181 tn?1428180348
Phobias are difficult to get through............they can prevent us from enjoying  a lot that life has to offer. So you can sign up for therapy or some "aversion" techniques to get over your dread of snakes. Maybe that would be the healthy thing to do. But I can't help but ask the question..........why bother? Unless your husband is about to take up snake keeping as a hobby or you live in a snake infested neighborhood...........my advice would be, simply, DO NOT GO INTO THE SNAKE HOUSE! Let the rest of your family enjoy that particular exhibit and you can meet them over by the penguins. If they chose to make fun of you, laugh right along with them! If you are afraid of passing this phobia on to your daughter, you've already done that!
But it sounds like she has a pretty healthy attitude if she laughs when you can't read "Jungle Book" without squirming!
There is so much at the zoo besides the stupid snakes! Enjoy the rest of the animals with your family and don't get "guilted" into going in if it's going to cause you anxiety or nightmares. Your family needs to understand how uncomfortable it makes you and offer to be waiting with the ice cream cones when they come out!
I personally cannot go into the spider exhibit. My family has laughed at me for years and I'm perfectly fine with that. But like the "Soup Nazi" on Seinfield, I just say "NO ICE CREAM CONES FOR YOU!"  Works like a charm.
I'm sorry to get so long winded about this, but there is a story I just have to share.
Many years ago when my kids were small and in Cub Scouts, I worked as a volunteer during a week long "day camp." One of the many "fun" things they had planed for the boys was some freaky "snake guy" who brought an entire wagon load of the damn things to camp. The kids were just piddling themselves with excitement and I was trying to figure out where I could hide during the show. Didn't work as I was also the camp "medic" and they told me I had to be there in case one of the kids got stung by a stupid bee or got a bloody nose. So, I carefully chose a spot as far away from the stage as I could. This guy brought out massive rattle snakes and huge boa constrictors and many, many other creatures that I knew without a doubt would somehow end up at the end of my bed that night! For the grand finale, he and his assistant brought out this huge box and began to tell the story of how this box contained one of the most terrible snakes in all the universe. How mean and nasty it was and it would eat you alive and oh, Lordy, it just went on and on and the kids were just so fired up to see this horrid, evil thing. He warned the boys that if it got away from him and his assistant, that they were all to run as far and fast as they could. He asked if they were ready...........100 young voices screamed "Yes!" in unison. My pathetic "no #@*% way" was not even heard over the uproar. He slowly removed a set of keys from his pocket, his assistant moved in with his "snake holder thingy" and the lock was undone............the smell of fear was everywhere..............everywhere around ME! With one grand flourish, he flung the box open and out flew into the crowd one of those spring loaded fake snake things! The last thing I remember was this damn thing headed straight for me! The next thing I remember was being hauled off on a gurney to the first aid tent. That and the giggling of 100 little evil Cub Scouts! But if you think this is the end of the story, you'd be wrong. That really wasn't the "grand finale." The snake guy had one last surprise for all of us. And that was a vey rare, albino Anaconda. If I am remembering this right, the Anaconda is one, if not THE, largest snakes in the world. By this time I had recovered enough to once again (foolishly) join the crowd  to see this "wonder of wonders." It was MASSIVE! I have never seen a snake that long in my life! It had to have been at least 30 feet and it's girth was unbelievable! I know he told us how much she weighed, I don't remember exactly now, but I know it was well over 100 pounds. The snake guy asked for volunteers to come and hold her..........many, many Cubs ran forwards and grabbed a spot on her massive body. But he was still holding her head and said he needed one more person to help........I have tried all these years to forgive him for insisting it be me that had this honor, I think he was, in his own sick way, trying to help me over my fear, or make up for nearly giving me a heart attack earlier, but even tho I declined, I found myself in a sort of "mosh pit" of Cubbies pushing me forwards. So at this point I did some serious 10 second therapy and convinced myself that this snake guy would not let a bunch of 8 year old boys hold a snake that had any potential for harming them and that I would show everybody that I was a real "sport." So, there I was. Facing this massive reptile with eyes bigger than mine and pink no less! I actually decided that it was rather cute. Much too big, but cute. Snake man showed me how to hold her head just so and the next thing I knew, I was holding her head in my arms like one would a chicken. I felt myself begin to relax. She wasn't slimy. She felt cool to the touch and actually quite soft. (I think I was thinking "Great shoes" at that moment) Her head must have weighed alot because my arms were growing tired and I thought I had done quite enough for the day. It was at that moment that the bell call for the boys to gather at the flag pole sounded and like a bunch of rats deserting the ship, I was left holding the entire snake on my own! It was like holding a fire hose at full throttle by myself. And because the boys had rather uncerimoniously dumped her on the ground, it is apparently an "Anaconda thing" to wrap their bodies around the nearest upright object, which was ME! (There IS a picture of this, but it's not digital....those hadn't been invented yet, otherwise I would put it on here. The look on my face is quite amusing to everyone but me!) The snake guy very calmly began to unwrap her from around my legs and had the balls to ask me not to faint again as I might hurt her if I fell on her! That was, naturally, MY main concern as well. NOT! I wanted a gun. A large gun. The only guns available were the BB guns from the rifle range. Wouldn't have done me any good as I think by now she had one of my arms in a rather tight hold. I know I was speaking to Snake Man through clenched teeth to just get this monster off me, and that was when she sort of licked me. I don't think it was a lick really, not like a puppy lick, I think my head just got in the way of her sniffing the air as snakes are wont to do. That was when the lights started to dim again, but some of the other grown ups (?) who had been standing around laughing at me rushed in and held me up. To end this saga, the snake was removed and put back in her cage, which was bigger than my car, I was once again taken to the first aid tent where I was given some stupid oxygen instead of a stiff shot of whiskey.............I don't go in the snake house either. Meet you at the penguins?
Peace
Greenlydia          
535294 tn?1219933712
I can totally relate to your phobia...I don't have a fear of snakes, although I wouldn't go out of my way to be near one, mine is really ridiculous. I am terrified of moths. In Colorado, we are about two weeks away from Millar moth season. These are big ugly gray nasty things that are everywhere until all the birds scoop them up, right around the end of July. Deep down, I know they are harmless, people laugh at me, and tell me I'm ridiculous, but they don't get it. I would put a beehive in my pocket before I'd allow a moth to land on me. One of my biggest fears is having one of the nasty things get its wings stuck in my hair or something...I'm getting creeped out now just writing this.
I have slept on the couch if there's one in my bedroom, I have showered in the guest bath if there is one in the bathroom. I have called people to come over and kill them if my husband is out of town. If I have no other choice, I will walk around the house with a can of hairspray hoping I can make its wings stiff so it can't fly and I can get rid of it. If I come home and they are fluttering all around my porch light, I will not go through the front door.
I guess my point is, there is nothing ridiculous if it's real to you. Do what you're comfortable with and let it go at that...but I agree, stay out of the snake house :-)
424549 tn?1308519102
Thanks for convincing me! I don't either see exactly what the idea is. I could maybe just end up worsening the whole phobia. I'm not babying it - I only want to walk through that zoo without my knees shivering....

I don't know if I should say it greenlydia but I was laughing halfwys through your story. Very well written. About ... 8 years ago I had a boyfriend. One day he pulled me over to a friend of his. I think I stopped breathing the moment the door was opened - a white and yellow boa was hanging around this guy's neck. Not big, not so fat, not at all so slimey. Just... something that was going to be stuck in my head forever. The temperature, the octagon-skin, the bone-less moves.... Ew.

Soon enough my boyfriend broke me the news: He wanted to get two Boa's. Despite my "well, that's the last you've seen of me" he got started on it. His mother and I agreed - it was grose.
After the pets came into the house I spent nights sleepless - sitting by the kitchen table, smoking, shivering - as if they were big, blue three-eyed monsters that'd eat me. Of course they weren't three-eyed and they weren't blue...
I lived with them, they did me nothing, I did them nothing and I cried out loud if I could only count to one curled-up thingy in the terrarium. It was a very.... anxious time. If I hadn't got control of them, I had something to fear. The most stupid thing I've ever done was to watch them being fed. That is also maybe why sweat so much at the thought of their heads.
Anyhow - it did work out well to live there, but I was constantly in a bitter-sweet kind of moodsetting: I didn't desire to spend the rest of my life with someone who adored two reptiles?...
One morning I was too exhausted to even wake up at 7 when I needed to. I had to get to work. I pulled the blanket over my head and kept on thinking "5 more minutes..."
Suddenly the blanket disappeared and one of the reptiles were laid on my chest. I thought I had screamed out of my good skin - and I kept thinking: "Don't move too fast don't move too fast" I think everything went in slow motion until I had lifted the snake off my chest and gotten out of bed. Then? No worries, I speeded up - started crying and barking to him and in ten minutes I had left that apartment for good.

Somehow the fear of snakes has always been there. It diminished that time with Mr Snakelover, but.... Leaving a situation in fear, makes it fearful for quite a long time I guess. Last summer I had to take anti-anxiety meds to get through the summer. I was a wreck. This summer I have so far only felt a tiny sting in the chest every now and then as a reminder of me breathing with my upper chest too much. I have done much better.

My sister is pregnant and she has SPD, causing ache in her hips, so she too convinced me to stay at home on Saturday keeping her company.

I'd definitely say penguins, staying out of the snakehouse!

Suzyq - people tell me too to brave up and be strong. Well, at least my stepmother does lol. I have stopped listening to it long long time ago. If we can arm up with hairspray and shoes and vaccuum cleaners, all is good that can be good. Of course people laugh. They don't have that sense of dread running through them.

Thank you both for replying. You do a great job in this forum!

Florena
480448 tn?1426952138
First of all....other than those weird snake-loving people (sorry if any of you weird snake-loving people are reading this and are offended) ......very few people actually LIKE snakes.  I don't have a snake phobia...but if one was sitting in front of me in a cage, I would be less than happy.  Reading both yours and lydia's stories...a few sensations came over me...fear, nausea, and the urge to immediately head to the BR (lol).  Geez.....you people are WAY braver than I could ever imagine.  Sheesh.  Lydia...I also laughed reading your tale...it was written so well...I could picture the whole situation perfectly...namely a white-as-a-sheeted YOU lying lifeless on the ground with a plastic slinky-snake on the ground in front of you.  How in the *bleep* you ever got the courage to go and hold that *ew* big snake...is beyond me...but good for you!

Florena...if I were you.....and that were my BF, he would have surely been missing some vital parts after that episode.  How amazingly cruel!!!  People think the answer is simply to "face your fears"....yeah, um....ok.  It just is NOT that easy.  And, I agree with you (and the others) 200% that there is NO need for you to have to see the snake exhibit...NONE.  You aren't there to prove yourself to anyone or decide that that is the day at the zoo, spending QT with your family...is the one where you face your fears head on.  Nuh-uh, no way.  There are WAY too many other cuter, more interesting creatures to see than them.  I'd prolly skip them myself...and I don't have a phobia to speak of.  Go...enjoy yourself and have a snake-free day.  Period.

Suzy....while I also don't have mothphobia...I'd have to agree with you that the ones you speak of are icky!  I can see why you've avoided them so much...and I'm sorry but I L'edMAO at the thought of a bunch of sticky hairspray-laden moths rolling around trying to unstick their wings.  What an awesome weapon of choice!  LOL!

I watched a talk show about phobias one day...and the people on it had SEVERE life-altering phobias...where they literally couldn't even function. The things they were scared of were pretty odd too...one was deathly afraid of cotton.  Yes, like cotton balls.  Another had a bird phobia (which is pretty common).  What did the talk show host do?  (Maury maybe?).  He had a guy dressed up with cotton balls all over him come out and try to touch the woman.  'Cuse me?  I watched in horror.  That poor woman looked as though she would drop dead right there.  NOT the way to go about it for sure.  Nothing like making it worse.  Of course....we're talking a dumb talk show that has to be made interesting with "shock value" for ratings...but still.

Whether other people understand our phobias or not simply isn't the point.  The point is that no matter WHAT it is we fear...even if it is something seemingly harmless (ie cotton)....it causes severe dread and fear to those who have the phobia.  Gradual exposure to the trigger item is one thing....but there is just no need to be a hero and possibly cause onesself a ton of extra stress trying to overcome it in one shot.  It just isn't a good idea, IMO.  Therefore...let the rest of your gang love the snakes...and tell them that under no circumstances are you going to ruin your day....and dammit...you deserve your ice cream too...snakes or no snakes.  ;0)

Good luck...I hope you have an enjoyable day.
Have an Answer?
Top Anxiety Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
370181 tn?1428180348
Arlington, WA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out what can trigger a panic attack – and what to do if you have one.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Take control of tension today.
These simple pick-me-ups squash stress.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
Want to wake up rested and refreshed?