Failure Is Not An Option





 Just read an interesting article in one of the local papers the other day, about a young woman with a phobia of snakes. These are very unusual animals in this region of the world. There are currently only two species, one of them venomous but most often non-lethal. Apparently one of those had frightened her back in her childhood, or rather her grandfather then finding it in his backyard while she and her sister played football close by. The snake was a female expecting little ones, which is why he wanted to stab the snake with a hayfork. The little ones were even more venomous he said. This experience was traumatic enough to cause her nightmares, which later developed into a full phobia.

 After that, the irrational life we all recognize so much started and continued for years and years. She had a difficult time visiting lavatories, there was always this fear of a potential snake crawling up through the toilet, because the had "heard of it". The door was always opened and the lid was always lifted with exaggerated precaution. Interestingly, the phobia seemed to be worse when she was all by herself. That's when a snake could appear anywhere anytime. The phobia wasn't bothering her so much when she was at work, focusing on other things.

 Here is where the fun begins. While she was traveling to Asia for two months, she was relaxed. That's a region with a lot of exotic animals, but her mind was instead all focused on the pleasant temperatures compared to our Nordic winds. She even managed a divers certificate on this trip, something she had not dared before because of the fear of sea snakes. Not smoothly though. Before every diving session, she had to ask the teacher for all the facts and he had to reassure her. Sea snakes are very unusual. The participants were always prepared for what they could see down there.

 Not long after that, the unusual thing happened. The teacher, probably unknowing of her phobia, made a hand sign for sea snake. In this critical second, she somehow managed to reason and stay calm. Because she knew that hyperventilating under water could be fatal. She backed but gained self control enough to stay under water until it was time for them to swim to the surface again. She described this experience as a feeling of genuine happiness afterwards. She haven't looked for professional help yet, but stories about human potential are always inspirational. Especially the psychological. It's a reminder that courage is not to be fearless, but to act against the fear.

 This story also gives me some flashbacks of that day at work when I had to care for a lady suffering from the yearly norovirus outbreak. For details read earlier in this blog. It was a bit like free diving without panicking actually. A master degree for people like us. Yet many emetophobics run straight through the fire and care for their own family members everyday as we speak around the planet. Just imagine.