the fear of spiders and other arachnids such as scorpions
No 1 in top 10 most common phobias
affects women more than men
dizziness, nausea, and breathlessness
in some cases, symptoms escalate into a full-blown panic attack
Yep, this is me. I suppose it really kicked in when I was about 5 and my sister threw one at me. She found it hysterical when I turned a funny colour and puked in the dirt. No, we are not close.
Every night, I would check under my bed with the broom handle, ready to scarper just in case. Shadows cast in the corners of my bedroom would suggest a hairy monster was lurking and it wasn’t unusual to get my grandfather to come upstairs and get rid of it (by which time of course it had disappeared into the closet and he thought it was just a ruse not to go to sleep). Both he and my Dad tried to allay my fears, saying the spider was more afraid of me. I said I wouldn’t bet on it. If one was in the same room as me, one of us had to go. This was proven on several occasions in later life, even to the extent of leaving a note saying
“Spider in here somewhere, please get rid of it before coming to bed”.
One of the reasons I married my husband was because he is an absolute Ace at disposing of them. My friend told me to ‘keep him’ as he was useful. Mind you, he was breaking into her car at the time as she’d locked her keys in it (he used to work for a car park company and knew a few tricks of the trade). He’s not exactly fond of them himself, but needs must, as I couldn’t even get close. He finds it a little amusing though that I can hear them, after all, it’s not as if they wear four pairs of hobnail boots is it? I must have something like bat sonar. His spider catching kit consists of a glass (varying sizes), coaster (or place mat, depending obviously on size of glass) and courage, whilst I’m on door or window duty so that he can give it flying lessons.
One evening, he was working late and I was on my own when this mini tarantula walked across the carpet. The dog of the time was as useful as a chocolate teapot and just lay there, letting it walk over her feet. I told her to ‘get it’ but all she did was lift her sleepy head, blink, and promptly go back to sleep. Terrific. I was already sweating profusely, my breathing was erratic and I felt sick. Nothing for it but to go outside and ask a neighbour to dispose of it.
Two hours later, I was still on the front step waiting for someone, anyone, to come home (the dog was still snoozing inside). One of the lads in the flats opposite was first and asked me if I was OK.
I told him the problem and he said not to worry, he’d deal with it. A few seconds later he came rushing out and said, ‘It is a big one isn’t it! I’ll be back in a minute!’
The fact that the damn thing was still in there whilst I was outside like some evicted tenant was infuriating, but I had to laugh when my young hero came back with one of those lidded dustpan things on a long handle and a broom. All he needed was a chair and a whip and the scenario was complete. Of course, my husband chose that exact moment to come round the corner.
At the age of 35, I decided to try some do-it-yourself therapy and hired Arachnophobia, starring John Goodman and Jeff Daniels. Suitably armed with a cushion, brown paper bag and a cold compress, we were all set for me to either pass out or come to grips with my fear. I actually found the film entertaining until the eight-legged fiends started coming out of the holes in the bath, then those old familiar cold sweats started. I got through to the end though, so I guess it did something as I began to tolerate the smaller ones at least. I managed to get one off the cooker door with the help of a tea towel and holding my breath, and another I ‘saved’ from the shower by flicking it out of the way with the towel. OK, they were tiny, but it was a start!
I know very little about spiders, apart from they make intricate webs that looks absolutely stunning dappled with dew, they move with the aid of hydraulics rather than muscles, and the female is usually larger than the male. After mating, she is also likely to devour him and we have seen several 7 legged casualties who have been just quick enough to see another day.
Since moving to the country, we have had our fair share of these creatures come indoors, some of which have been really huge and my husband says he needs a flack jacket and rifle. I still don’t like them, but when I can count the hairs on their legs, they’re too big and I’m too close!