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"My only argument is with those who do not view the world as cynically as I do." Michael Korda

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Phobias Are Keeping Me Thin

I have some phobias. They’re all pretty normal phobias, the kind that lots of people have, so I’m like, you know, not so far from normal. (I also have one really out there phobia, but it’s so out there that it’s not something I’m confronted with on a regular basis, so it’s not particularly debilitating.)

My big phobias are claustrophobia and elevator phobia, which is actually sort of just an extension of the claustrophobia. (I’m also deathly afraid of fire, but I don’t really think of that as a phobia, since my apartment burned down when I was 19 and I was left homeless at college for the last few weeks of the semester. It’s not actually a phobia if your fear is based in reality, right?)

The claustrophobia is something I have an issue with, but can stand if I have to. I just really hate being trapped in small spaces. It’s been bad on and off since the time I almost got pushed onto the tracks at a Metro station on Fourth of July because apparently Metro officials don’t understand the idea of fucking crowd control. I avoid the Metro during rush hour if at all possible.

The elevator phobia was born when I was 19 (it was a bad year), and I got stuck in an elevator with three other people for an hour. It was a pretty decent sized elevator, so it really shouldn’t have been that bad, but two of the other people got into a screaming match over whose fault it was that the elevator got stuck in the first place. The one guy blamed the woman who shoved on to the elevator just as it was closing, and the woman blamed the guy for not holding the door for her. It was awesome. By the time the workmen pried the door open, I was crouched in the corner in a cold sweat. Then I had to climb out of the elevator since it was stuck between two floors. I was wearing a miniskirt.

Another time I got stuck in an elevator in a hotel in London. We were only stuck for a few minutes, but it was a standard European elevator, which means it was miniscule, and it was filled with standard Europeans, which apparently means they have no issue with personal space and feel that it’s ok to cram 10 people into an elevator the size of a small bathtub. I’d tell you more of the story, but just typing about it is giving me a PTSD episode.

The elevator phobia is exacerbated by the fact that I live in a building with small elevators and lots of people who think nothing of saying, “Come on, there’s plenty of room” when there clearly isn’t.

I sometimes have anxiety dreams about being stuck on elevators. I once had a nightmare about being stuck in a really tiny elevator with my mother, who wanted to talk about wedding plans. I woke up in a cold sweat. So, anyways, I take the stairs a lot.

Back in July, I had the stomach flu. While throwing up for 24 hours straight and not being able to eat for days is not remotely fun, it did have the benefit of a 7-pound weight loss. I was sort of worried about not being able to keep the weight off once I started my new job, because there is endless food available and I seem to be eating like a pig.

But something strange has happened. I’ve kept the weight off and somehow managed to get some actual muscle tone to my body. Last week, I realized that something totally unprecedented had happened: my jeans were all too big for me. I’ve dropped a jean size.

And I owe it all to my phobias. I almost always walked to my old job, but I decided I would ride the bus to my new job, since it’s farther away than my old job and there’s a convenient bus that goes almost door to door. I tried the bus for a few days. It was a nightmare. It never comes when it’s supposed to. And it’s always crowded, so I usually have to stand. I’m short, so it’s almost impossible for me to grab on to the arm rails, so I try to hold on to the seat rails and not fall into anyone’s lap. On my third day, the bus got into an accident halfway to work, and everyone had to leave the bus. From the resigned looks on the other passengers’ faces, I gathered that this situation was not unusual. So, I started walking. It’s actually a very nice walk. It takes me about 5 to 10 minutes longer than walking to my last job did, but it’s not really that much longer than riding the bus seeing as Metrobuses don’t really seem to understand the concept of a schedule. I seem to be walking faster than I did to my old job, which might have something to do with no longer being filled with a sense of dread every morning.

And then there’s the elevator. The building where I work is quite old and has only two elevators, only one of which goes to my floor. On my first day, I was warned that it breaks down a lot. And although it’s quite spacious, it makes horrible noises and does a sort of jumping motion every time it stops. So, I started taking the stairs. And it’s awesome. My ass is smaller than it’s been in about 5 years. I’m not working out at all, and I’m eating constantly, and it doesn’t matter at all. Apparently, the secret to staying fit is having a lot of emotional issues. I’d explore this topic more, but I have to go buy some new jeans.

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  • At 11/6/07, 6:37 PM, Blogger Curly Glamour Girlie said…

    I too hate elevators. To the point where if the elevator was iffy going one way, I will definitely take the stairs the other way. Also, if it's only one flight, I almost always take the stairs and I NEVER take the elevator in parking garages as those are always filthy and creepy.

    I see nothing odd about your phobias and all the better that they have made you lose a jeans size!

  • At 11/6/07, 11:33 PM, Blogger Lady Tiara said…

    thank you for telling me i'm not a freak. i also steer clear of parking garage elevators because they're super creepy.

  • At 10/3/08, 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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