HOW I LEARNED TO LIVE WITH MY (MOSTLY) IRRATIONAL FEAR

I have a lot of phobias but, for much of my young life, I wrestled with a fear of... escalators.
  1. I'll preface by saying I'm not entirely sure where this fear developed from.
  2. My sister had a fall on one as a baby (she wasn't strapped in properly) and my grandmother would repeat this story whenever we passed or went on one. Maybe that rubbed off on me.
  3. Or maybe it was one of those horror stories that circulated in the '90s.
  4. Either way, escalators terrified me.
  5. I avoided them at all costs.
  6. I'd make my family take the long ramps in the car park as I wasn't fond of elevators, either.
  7. I remember one of my first panic attacks as my mother got fed up with my phobia and stepped onto one, leaving me on the upper floor and shaking and crying.
  8. This fear continued until I was in high school and my mother decided to enrol me in an anxiety clinic when I was struggling with adapting to my new school.
  9. As good as the program was, it mostly dealt with specific phobias.
  10. So we decided to tackle my fear of escalators.
  11. My clinic just so happened to be close to one of the biggest shopping centres on the Southern Hemisphere, so that would cover the practical component.
  12. Before that, though, we studied the idea of stepladders.
  13. Basically where we'd write out step by step strategies on the path to our goal of facing our fear.
  14. For me, it was stuff that probably sounds super simple and maybe even silly to others.
  15. Looking at an escalator, walking by an escalator.
  16. One night we headed on over to the centre and I was set to go up and down the escalators while my fellow clinic patients went and introduced themselves to strangers to combat their social anxieties, etc.
  17. And it was absolutely terrifying.
  18. It was late so they started shutting down the escalators while I was still working up to them, and I had to walk up them while they were off which was somehow worse?
  19. But I did it.
  20. And here's the point of my making this post:
  21. I spent twelve weeks of intensive therapy working on combatting one specific fear.
  22. A fear many will consider dumb.
  23. And I still hesitate before I step on an escalator.
  24. I still panic if one's turned off and I have to walk up.
  25. I still never go on them if my shoes are untied.
  26. I still think about getting sucked up into one and trapped inside.
    I told you, it's irrational.
  27. But I still get on the escalators.
  28. That, for me, has been the most important thing I've learned about fear and anxiety.
  29. I may never be without anxiety.
  30. I might always have panic attacks.
  31. I might always carry irrational fears with me.
  32. But I will do things, anyway.
  33. I don't know that I got over my fear.
  34. I know that I learned to live with it.
  35. And I think that's just as important.