Thursday, March 08, 2012
my heights issue
This picture makes me want to throw up and die.
I've always been scared of heights.
Lots of people say they are scared of heights. They are blatantly lying. They talk about heights in that nonchalant sort of "oh yes, I hate heights," sort of way like it's normal, as normal as eating a banana or taking a dump.
But only 2-5% of the population actually are 'acrophobic.' And I'm one of those.
Dude. When I say I am scared of heights I really fucking mean it. I have issues climbing a three-rung step ladder. And it wasn't always so. Shit has got a lot worse. It's become a 'thing.'
And yet, no one takes it seriously. "Don't worry it's fine, you're nowhere near the edge," or "Come on, it can't be that bad," or even "Oh please, just relax," doesn't help. FOR GOD'S SAKE, I'M SHITTING MYSELF, CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT?? NOTHING YOU SAY IS MAKING IT BETTER; THIS WILD LOOK IN MY EYES IS BECAUSE I ACTUALLY BELIEVE I AM ABOUT TO DIE.
And it all started to seriously unravel while we were out in South Africa. Where I suddenly found myself standing on lots of high points. Table Mountain, Sir Lowry's Pass, on the curve of the N2 overlooking Wilderness....there are fuckloads of high places in Saffaland, and it started to become debilitating. I may have to actually take one of those courses.
I'll try to explain. It's completely irrational. The last logical thought in the back of your mind that knows you won't die doesn't compute to the rest of your body that believes you will die by being up so high. Your brain is losing a fight against your intuitive impulses. It's irrational, and that's why it's a true phobia.
Standing on a footpath, with a rocky outcrop, fence and boardwalk in between me and a 1000 metre drop makes me feel like I'm going to be sick.
My hands become clammy, I start getting dizzy and feel disorientated, and I don't trust my body. I feel like one false move, and I will fall. Resulting in a splat at the bottom.
This is how I feel when I hang up a picture on a step ladder, you understand. But now it's become worse. I now have the added fun of panic attacks. Even when I'm in a car.
Circling up through about 5 passes in our hire car in SA, I had full panic attacks. Once I almost burst into tears (on the Outeniqua pass coming into George.) The Brit was at the wheel and we had to stop. The motion and speed made me feel like I was certainly going to die. It's better if I drive the pass, as I feel like I'm more in control.
Let's not even talk about the cable car up the mountain. I had to sit down. On the rotating floor.
Standing on the N2, overlooking the Kaaiman's river mouth in Wilderness was also awful. I was nowhere near the edge. Yet my whole body starts to feel like it's spinning, I break into a sweat and I start to panic. I feel physically uncomfortable.
I've stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower before crying, wondering how I would get down and sitting on each step on the way to the bottom. I can't go over bridges where I can see between the slats. I rode across Golden Gate Bridge and had a full-blown panic attack. This cannot be normal.
The issue is that I love to explore. And travel. And most of the world's top places most often involve going somewhere high. Towers, mountain tops, they are all on the list of things to do and see. And I find myself trying to talk myself out of doing these things now, because I'm too fucking scared.
I inevitably end up forcing myself to ascend something and immediately start having a very, very shit time.
The other thing I'm finding difficult is aeroplane turbulence. Given I take around 20-30 flights a year, this is a problem. I panic, scream (yes, I'm a screamer), sweat and pray for my life when a plane hits turbulence. But I fly less than I find myself standing on high things. So I figure the heights ordeal is what I should try and deal with first.
Just writing this made me stressed.