Like everyone else, I have gone through life having to overcome certain fears, some rational, some not so. However; recently a certain fear has been developing to a point I think it might be verging on unhealthy and irrational.
For some unknown reason, I developed a phobia of losing my house, more specifically, it falling down. I have researched subsidence and heave to the point I probably know more about it than a structural engineer! It started with me becoming obsessed with small hairline cracks due to natural movement, which lead to be looking into the foundations of the house, the type of soil it is built on and common problems with properties of a certain age. This has developed to the point I know every single visible crack on the outside and inside my property and I monitor them regularly on a daily basis. I appreciate this is irrational and that I am probably obsessing over nothing, but I now have to inspect the cracks daily and have an internal sense of dread that seems to be getting worse as if I am waiting for some catastrophic to happen to my house.
My home is the only place I can truly relax, so to have my sacred place become a place of dread is a big deal for me. I am becoming more anxious and agitated and I regularly have dreams of my house falling down or disappearing down a sinkhole. This is a fear that is now becoming constant and beyond my ability to control and manage.
I have been through the motions of tackling it logically and assessing the probability of these fears happening, and although they are very unlikely, the fact that they could be likely at all is enough to drive it in my mind.
I'm not sure what to do now to try and manage things better. Counselling, psychotherapy and CBT are out of the question as the services near to me don't cater for people with ASD.
Has anyone else had phobias suddenly manifest like this? There is obviously a root cause, I just can't get to it at present.
Not so much phobias, I think I only have one and It's been with me since childhood, but I do get sort-of-OCD about things all the time. I say "sort of" because I was reprimanded for calling mine OCD as I never think anything bad will befall me for NOT doing these things, I just don't seem to be able to stop myself from doing them.
Mostly they vary and change with time and something perfectly normal can suddenly pop-up as becoming compulsive for no apparent reason. Most of the time I just go with it, let it become a ritual for a while and don't think about it too much, and that way it tends to ease off or stop on it's own. Maybe I get bored with it? I don't know. Other times, it can become a problem if it starts to get in the way of me doing other things or lasts too long. Does this sound like what you're experiencing?
I have no idea about root causes. Maybe it's a side effect of preferring / needing routine and order? Maybe it's a from of stimming in that it's comforting, for a while, to perform these rituals or routines? I've never worked out which but they do tend to, eventually, wear off. When it's become a problem I try to break them down into their individual components, so instead of repeating it three times in a day I'll force myself to stop at once and only at a specific time. Maybe next, i'll try 'if I do this today, I can't do that' with 'that' being something I REALLY want to do (maybe drink coffee that day or read). Working it like that has, up to now anyway, eventually worked for me.
The only other thing that's helped me to stop any of my weird little rituals has been one of my children noticing it and teasing me about it, they can be quite merciless and relentless at times and that's usually put paid to whatever it was feeling 'comforting' at all!
Endymion said:Mostly they vary and change with time and something perfectly normal can suddenly pop-up as becoming compulsive for no apparent reason. Most of the time I just go with it, let it become a ritual for a while and don't think about it too much, and that way it tends to ease off or stop on it's own. Maybe I get bored with it? I don't know. Other times, it can become a problem if it starts to get in the way of me doing other things or lasts too long. Does this sound like what you're experiencing?
Yes I do experience these and so long as it doesn't harm me or anyone else, I just go with it and don't see it as a problem. Tapping on things 5 times seems to be a persistent one at the moment.
These rituals though don't usually make me anxious or make my mood/thoughts worse. If anything they can make me feel better. But the issue connected with the house makes me feel very anxious and agitated. In fact if I don't act upon it, my mood can turn awful and I can't relax. My thoughts, which I am normally very good at controlling and challenging, can spiral out of control. This is why this one has become so bothersome for me. I have only experienced this once before with a very valued possession of mine, so I wonder if the two might be connected, in that it relates to items/possessions that hold great value to me and there is an underlying fear that they could be lost/damaged/taken away etc.
Starbuck, maybe the thing to bear in mind is that the world, or 'reality', is full of imperfections but that does not stop things working okay and having stability. It seems to me that what you are doing is focussing so much on minutiae that you are missing the big picture. For example, there is no human being that is perfection, yet many people live to a ripe old age carrying physical problems that never prove to be fatal and this is the way nature really is, i.e, a compromise between imperfection and functionality. Take autism as a case in point. Many autistic people are not perfectly suited to the 'ordinary world' yet manage to lead productive and fulfilling lives, despite this. Actually, taken to extremes one could argue that things like sub-atomic particles don't really exist until we make a measurement, which seems to suggest that the fundamental basis of reality is highly speculative, yet we experience it all the time as an ongoing, stable process. Imperfections are an intrinsic part of nature.Hope this helps.
Well, THAT gave me a jolt! For some reason, when you were talking about losing your house it naturally flitted through my mind about how I'd feel if I lost mine and I have to admit I wasn't particularly upset. I mean, I like my house but a house is just a place to be and another would be just as good I'm sure.
When you said about all of your items and possessions being lost, I actually felt quite sickened!! (Why didn't I make that obvious connection before?) It's not about having anything particularly valuable or priceless but MY things, the things I like to see around me every day, it would be horrific if they ALL suddenly disappeared!! Hmmm. Sorry for being too thick to see that before!
Now that the connection between sinkholes and losing all possessions is made, I can't see how the two can be separated. Since you've already been looking into the structural integrity of your house, and that hasn't helped dispel your fears, have you considered beating this obsession into submission with logic in other ways? Such as the researching the geology of your area?
Sinkholes tend to occur in the deeper, underlying rock structure and so the type of soil in your garden isn't always a good indication if it was dumped there by the truckload when the houses were being built. Finding out which rock type underlies all of that could be enough to put your mind at rest? Researching the statistics re. sinkholes per rock type should, I would imagine, show that your particular area isn't a high risk - considering it's a relatively rare phenomenon in Britain as a whole compared with some other places.
I have previously done some research into the geology of the area, so I am aware of the risks that are a possibility. My house is built on clay soil and the house is early Victorian era, so there is a risk of subsidence or heave as a result of heavy periods of rain/floods and/or drought. I have also researched how the land was managed in the past and that through up some interesting facts as well - I also noticed a mistake that the council and environmental health had made as well; sadly when I pointed it out they said that if I wanted this rectified to prevent misleading information to potential buyers then I would need to pay for a letter and certificate from the council. Yes we even have to pay for the council's mistakes now it seems! Anyway I digress. I am aware of the risks both minor and major, but this still doesn't ease the underlying fear/anxiety. I have been managing it better recently, but did have a bit of a blip the other day and from then on things have been getting more anxious for me again.
Sadly I am an inherent perfectionist at heart and this has caused me endless problems in the past. I now focus this obsession into my work and how I structure things to stop it getting out of control, but I am not sure if this issue is linked to my perfectionism. Normally I will stress over the quality of things and how aesthetically they look or how well something works. The house issue is none of them as I have my projects already mapped out for home improvements and I take my time with them so I can take a step back and not get too absorbed in making sure everything is perfect. I guess I will just have to continue reassessing my perception of things and maybe sit down and write a bit of a sense check for myself to stop it getting too out of control.
Well, think about this, Starbuck. How does a Jumbo-Jet manage to stay in the sky or a huge oil tanker not sink to the bottom of the ocean? The answer is that it is a balance of forces that make such things possible and this applies to everything in nature from engineering to human psychology. It's not perfection that runs the universe but balance, and it's when stuff gets too much out of balance that trouble starts. The moon still orbits the earth and will do so for a very, very long time.
About four years ago I suddenly developed an irrational fear of walking over bridges. I was almost consumed by the thought that they would collapse. I don’t like being in water and most of the bridges where I live are over rivers.
I made myself walk or drive over them (not that I had much choice). After around 6 months the fear disappeared. I have no idea why this happened to me.
'Reality testing' Graham. In other words you overcame your irrational fears of walking over bridges by testing them , over and over again,
I can understand the logic behind ‘reality testing’. What I can’t understand is why an irrational fear I hadn’t suffered from for 50 years should suddenly reappear.