While driving home from a meeting this afternoon, I was accosted by a spider. Although my fear of spiders is quite high, I’ve learned to usually breathe and walk away from the arachnid. When a spider surprises me, however, my mind races a mile a minute, I scream, and sometimes I even flee the scene as quickly as possible. Today, however, trapped in my car and moving at 45 mph, there was nowhere to run.
Less than twelve inches from my face, a spider slowly lowered itself and was going in the direction toward my steering wheel or possibly my lap. It was directly in front of my face, so my focus went directly away from the road and onto the spider. Everything happened within a minute, probably less, but I think I remember hitting the brakes a few times in hopes that the inertia would push the spider away from me — but more likely I hit the brakes because I was panicking. Swerving slightly, I tried to push the spider away with one hand, yet I didn’t want to touch it. In a split-second decision, and in the realization that I was still in a moving vehicle and possibly endangering lives, I quickly swatted the spider against my steering wheel, had enough time to see its limp body fall from my steering wheel down to the ground, and then I was able to regain control of my vehicle by quickly moving into the empty center turning lane and coming to a complete stop.
By then my breathing was erratic, my heart rate was through the roof, and I was obsessively checking myself to make sure the spider wasn’t on me or anywhere near me. Barely an hour later and I’m still out of sorts, but the fear powered adrenaline has definitely ended and I’m coming down from my panicked state of mind
Luckily for me, the street I was driving on was not heavily trafficked at that particular moment, and thankfully there were no police cars nearby. Regardless, my irrational fear of spiders could have caused a serious or possibly fatal accident.
“Nearly 4.25% of the population suffers from some sort of phobia,” (http://www.phobias-help.com/phobia_statistics.html ). To me, that number seems smaller than it should be, but I suppose when we are talking about billions of people, and 1% equaling 10 million+/- people, then the numbers seem more adequate.
With such a large group of fellow phobics, I suppose I should feel comfort in large numbers– as long as I don’t have a fear of crowds ;0). Still, I can’t help but think what would’ve happened had I been on the freeway or driving in some high traffic area. I have been on the freeway before when a spider decided to crawl across my dashboard, and I quickly pulled over to squish and get rid of the freakishly white spider. Never before today have I had one lowering itself so close to my face!
I know there are various types of therapy to help with fears, and I have gone through some level of therapy to assist me specifically with not having to completely leave a room if a tiny spider happens to be crawling around.
When a spider comes out of practically nowhere, however, and into an environment like a moving vehicle — well then I don’t think any amount of therapy would have lessened my panic level.