I’m sure I haven’t been arachnophobic for my whole life, but I can’t remember a time when I was unafraid of spiders. When I was younger, my older sister had to tape shut the “arachnid”, “spider”, and “tarantula” pages of the dictionary so I never accidentally opened to a picture of them. Anytime I watched the National Geographic network, I switched channels during the commercials (just in case they advertised Super Spider). Even now, my day is ruined when I’m scrolling through my feed on Facebook and stumble across a vine involving a spider. In fact, I had to get a friend of mine to Google some of the info for this article because I was too afraid Google Images might show a spider.
I know for people without phobias it’s hard for them to understand what makes me so afraid. I can’t speak on behalf of everyone with arachnophobia, but I can tell you what happens to me. Whenever I see a spider, my brain automatically imagines hundreds of spiders surrounding me. Hundreds. It doesn’t matter where I am: in the shower, a car, a lecture hall. It happens every time. The walls, floor, and ceiling are covered with spiders in my head. It doesn’t even matter whether or not its actually a spider. If my ponytail brushes against my neck in an unfamiliar way, I frantically scratch and have to convince myself that it’s not a spider.
Although this fear is something that affects my everyday life, I’m thankful that I’m usually able to avoid it. However, this changes every time Halloween rolls around.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Halloween; I mean, who doesn’t love free candy? I dress up every year and watch classic scary movies with my friends. But with that in mind, there’s a huge difference between being “spooked” and being “petrified.” All throughout October, I have a looming anxiety wherever I go. I’m never at ease shopping at a grocery store because there’s always a giant spider near the entrance, in addition to occasional ones down every aisle. Halloween decorations make maneuvering through my friends’ houses an IRL game of Minesweeper: Spider Addition.
I’m not wishing to eradicate all associations of spiders from Halloween. Not only is that impossible, but that would snowball into removal of other scary things from Halloween (which would be no fun at all). Rather, I just want to send a warning to those who may not be aware of us arachnophobes. If a new scary spider movie comes out, please respect my choice not to go see it with you. Also, don’t make me put up spider decorations because it takes me days to look at my hands the same way again.
(Image via iStock)