My name is Douglas and I am an acrophobic. It has affected my life in many ways, mostly bad. But I didn't start out that way, I sort of grew into it.
Acrophobia is an extreme or irrational fear of heights. It belongs to a category of specific phobias, called space and motion discomfort that share both similar etiology and options for treatment.
I do not know why it is described as "irrational"... What is irrational about the fear of falling to a horrible death? Irrational is being blissfully unaware of this potential fate.
I inherited this. My mother was an extreme acrophobic. She couldn't step one step up a ladder without going a bit pale and becoming shaky. She once revealed to me that the only time she ever overcame her fear of heights was a night, as a young woman, she got "drunk as a skunk" and found herself halfway up a telephone pole. At which point she froze and had to be helped down. I thought this was funny. Then. After all, I was a mere child when she told me this and I spent half my daylight hours up in the elm tree in the front of our yard. Or up on the hill near our house overlooking the town. Or looking out my window on the second floor of the house.
I had no problems with heights as a child. Even into my early teens. I climbed atop things, sat on the edge of bridges and tall buildings, dreamed of flying. I climbed on, and jumped off, the roof of our house any number of times. Even after joining the Navy at 19, I had no real problems with heights. At sea, or in port, I felt no concerns in the higher reaches of the ship, leaning over the rails.
It started later. In my twenties. I began to get dizzy when working on ladders. I became unsure of my footing. I clung tighter, my fingers aching from holding on after a short period. And, in my job with the phone company, I had considerable occasion to climb a ladder. And sit on something called a "ladder seat", a wooden (or metal) contraption that fit between two steps on a ladder so you could sit while you worked for any length of time.
The seats were shaky since the ladders themselves were shaky. The ladders, you see, were rolling ladders. On wheels and attached to a "trolley", they could be rolled along the 15 foot high frame. Standing while working, my toes would cramp up from trying to curl around the steps I stood on. I often wished for the talons of birds to replace those toes.
As I age, the fear has grown worse. I cannot watch movies, or even still pictures, of heights without my feet tingling and a bit of dizziness creeping into my brain. I dread climbing a few steps up a ladder to clean out the gutters of my home. I tremble at the thought of climbing onto my roof for any reason.
I sometimes feel it, twitching there in the back of my brain, while watching the screen when playing Combat Flight Simulator.
There is no hope for me.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago