I suffer from aquaphobia and thalassophobia. Which summed up is me being afraid of water. Aquaphobia is specifically the fear of water, while thalassophobia is the fear of the sea. This fear has been crippling to me in the past and to this day I’m petrified of the water. Specifically, water I can’t see the bottom of and water that has other creatures in it.
I am unsure where the fear of water manifested. But my mom tells me that I had an illness when I was very young. This illness caused water to burn me. She thinks that my fear could be because I related pain to water. That may be true, but that doesn’t explain the panic attacks and extreme anxiety I feel even when I look at pictures of the ocean or sea.
It was crippling when I was little because I refused to even sit in the bath or in the kiddie pool my parents bought me. They gave me swimming lessons and wanted to help end my fear of water. At some point in early childhood I began to trust swimming pools and bath tubs. I can even say I enjoyed (and still enjoy) swimming in them. That isn’t to say I don’t sometimes still have freak outs in both of those places.
But over the years I have forced myself to go further and further in facing these particular fears. Perhaps the reason I even faced them was peer pressure or maybe it was the fear of missing out. I like to make memories and I don’t want a fear to stop me. There are seven specific ways that I’ve faced my fear of water.
- My first memory of REALLY REALLY facing my fear of water was when I went on my trip Los Angeles (I talked a bit about that trip here). I wanted to see the ocean so bad at that point and not even my phobia of water or the ocean were going to stop me. I ran straight into the ocean without fear. I let the waves wash over me and the sand move, messing up my balance. I wouldn’t go as far out as my brothers did but that was more out of respect for how powerful that water is. I will admit there were moments of anxiety and at least one small panic attack while I was there.
- I’m pretty sure the next time I got into a body of water was when my best friend thought she’d celebrate her birthday by playing and swimming in a creek. I’m not exactly the girliest girl but that is not something I would plan myself. Even without my phobias creeks and lakes still freak me out. There is absolutely no way to see the bottom in the water any deeper than the waist. Creeks also are known for bacteria. Anyway, I got in and I ended up in chest deep water, covered in mud and I still freak out every time I think about it.
- When I visited Belize I ended up on about a dozen boats. I swore my whole life I’d never get on one. I’ve been on little boats, big boats, and even a yacht. I’m not hugely bothered by boats anymore, but I don’t like the idea of cruises and if I think too hard while on a boat I kinda increase my anxiety.
- I also went parasailing over the Caribbean Sea, while in Belize. Which meant both getting in a boat and then floating over the Sea. I saw sea creatures swimming around as we were above the water. The guys who took us parasailing even went as far as dipping our legs into the open water. Needless to say it both thrilling and absolutely terrifying.
- I’ve been snorkeling. When I went on my trip to Belize I was probably most nervous about the plan to snorkel. I mean you’re basically in open water with all these animals that can eat you. Fortunately, the water isn’t THAT deep. I did get to see so many amazing and beautiful animals. I made a very conscious effort to not think about anything other than staying close to the guide, breathing properly, and not thinking about my fear.
- Yet another thing I did in Belize was cave explore. That was intense and I struggled to stay calm through the entire trip. Basically you sit in a giant inner tube, your feet and ass hanging into the water. The cave was very dark and freezing and the water was pretty deep in certain areas. Apparently, there were creepy-ass blind fish that lived in the cave. After we floated out of the cave there was a ledge in the cave right in the exit. We were allowed to jump off a rock into the super black, God only knows how deep water. Guess what? I was one of the ones crazy enough to do it. I’m not sure what I was thinking. It kind of freaks me out when I think about it now.
- The last way I face my fears was when I was on the boat after I went snorkeling. The guides started feeding fish to this swarm of sharks. They allowed us to feed the sharks and get into the water with the sharks too. If we wanted to that is. For some reason, I had the desire to get in with the sharks. I jumped in, when a shark promptly brushed by me. I watched for a few moments, all the while in the midst of an anxiety attack. But I quickly had to get out because the panic was setting in.
Sharks behind me
Yes that’s me with sharks
Even with all those ways I faced my fears I can honestly say my phobias are as strong now as they were before I did any of them. And I don’t necessarily recommend facing your fears in any of these ways. It all depends on the person. Many people may eliminate their fear if they do everything I have, but there are others (like me) who no matter what they do they will always have that fear.
I think the trick is not letting it control every aspect your life. These phobias are probably my strongest fears, but I refuse to let them stop me from creating memories. I am still petrified. But I don’t regret doing any of them. It didn’t make the fear dissolve but at least I got stories and at least I know that I can do things I’m terrified of.
We all have fears. Some are rational and others not so much. I have gone through a variety of fears throughout my 24 years of life. Over time I want to make posts over the next few months that will pinpoint and force me discuss some of the fears and phobias that I have. I think this will be interesting. Hopefully revealing something new to me about myself and maybe help someone struggling with a similar fear or problem.