DAY 140: Fearing heights really bad

18 Jan

LOOK, there are some absolute corkers of adventures coming up, just not today. Today I am curing my acrophobia.

‘Acrophobic’. What a fitting term for someone who sways like a seven-day pisspot around acrobatic equipment – and only finds this out after they have booked in for a 12-week course. (See also: ‘Fuckstick’.)

Week one’s trial trapeze lesson was just pretty bad, which made me cocky enough to hand over my credit card details. Week two is really, really bad.

It starts halfway up the ladder and ends when I leap off the platform, at which point I’m kind of busy with other stuff. For the 10-minute bit in between I’m shaky, sick and smelling a bit ripe. Internal dialogue goes along the lines of: “You’re going to fall. You’re going to faint and fall. Or you might just fall. You could just get down. But on the way, you’ll fall. Why am I here? This is your fault.”

I try a bit of positive reinforcement: “Look how strongly you are climbing this incredibly unsafe, only-room-for-one-foot-at-a-time ladder, despite the fact that your grip is slick with sweat.”

“That’s it – now you are at the top you can simply hook one leg casually around the pole like you’re a chick in an Elvis Presley movie, and observe with interest how the other girls are doing. So long as they’re not anywhere below eye level.”

While the physical effects are real, I suspect I’m hamming it up Gary Oldman-style by clinging to the pole with such a dramatic expression. In some respect, phobia is a safety net – if you make it clear you have a problem, it’s okay to back out should you need to. To get around this I’ll use an ACT technique, whereby you give an unwanted train of thought a name, and then whenever it comes up, acknowledge: “Aha. This is the ‘Can’t Do It Because I’m a Special Case Story’.” Then you should give a bit of a wry chuckle.

I reckon the best bet is desensitisation though. For the next week I will stand atop things of increasing height, like this table.

Keeper? If these don’t work it’s exposure therapy: having a good plummet.

One Response to “DAY 140: Fearing heights really bad”


  1. DAY 161: Pulling a complex trapeze move « Hey man, now you're really living - February 10, 2011

    […] and I haven’t spoken since our snarky email exchange about whether or not I have a legitimate fear of heights (if you were me, would you have blurted out that someone who has a Condition Red panic attack at the […]

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