There are more than enough different phobias for people to share, and while I’ve reduced mine from childhood down to a solid three, there’s one that people still think I’m joking around about, and surprisingly enough, it’s not coulrophobia (fear of clowns). People question my absolute fear of small spaces (claustrophobia) more than clowns.
When my husband met me, and I told him about my three phobias, he laughed at first. When he booked a room at Circus Circus hotel, I went pale when I saw the Clown sign. I kept my eyes closed and clung on to him, as he led me up to our room.
However, like many others, he snickered at my claustrophobia until he witnessed my elevator issue. When it’s just the two of us, I’m fine. I have enough space to breathe. When the elevator has more than four people, my ears start to burn, my face loses its color, my hands go cold and clammy, my chest starts to go numb, I get tunnel vision… all before I pass out. He was holding my hand in an elevator of 8-10, and my hands go from dry to dripping sweat once the door closed. After that, he blocks me into a corner with enough space to breathe in a crowded elevator. No one’s going to try to move a 6’3″ guy in Vegas.
Others still think I fake it, but when my husband and I were strolling in an art gallery and were being shown a piece of art in a small, dark room with just one spotlight, my symptoms kicked in, I removed myself from the situation, and ended up shaking, lightheaded, and nauseated. The poor guys at the gallery were running around to help me not faint.
So, when we went to Container Park, and our friends were urging me to go down the tube slides, and I looked and sounded like a total butt, shaking my head and refusing, it’s not because I’m not into fun stuff. It’s because I’ve passed out in a tube slide before, and I’d hate to repeat it.
Why am I talking about this? Because I want people to realize how sensitive any phobia is, especially claustrophobia. I hate hearing, “You’re so tiny” and “You’ll fit anywhere” because I’m 4’10”. I’ve passed out in a glass elevator with 16 people, and EMTs had to care for me. I’ve passed out in a crowd, and my friend had to carry me to the car. Nearly passed out at a concert but puked instead to get the space I needed. I’ve had employees of a kids’ play place take apart a tube to get my limp body out of the tube tunnels.
It doesn’t matter how small or big a person is. Claustrophobia is a nightmare of a phobia to live with, and when someone says, “no” to doing something in a small space, don’t continue to nudge them.