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It might sound funny to some people but for me its the most horrifying thing ever.

For any answers/comments don't use the word "li......" it just makes me feel like yuck. Please refer to it as "IT"

Back Story: When I was younger (8-10 years old, now I am 22) my mom had asked me to bring something from a washroom which wasn't used by anyone. But I was busy playing that I didn't hear it. An hour later my mom came and she was fuming, she ended up locking me up in that washroom for some time.

Since that washroom wasn't used by anyone it was old, dingy deserted kind of that's when I first noticed a reptile (lizard). It scared the shit out of me and I cried profusely. Since that day I have developed a phobia for reptiles.

I can't be in the same room, I feel like vomiting and I suddenly start feeling claustrophobic. I have decided that I will seek a therapist to deal with the phobia asap. I won't tell my mom this though, because its kind of a taboo seeing them. So I have decided to seek help undercover.

The deal is my mom doesn't get it. I have told her multiple times that due to that incident I am like this. She shrugs it off.

I have tried discussing with her. Sample conversation:

ME: Mom I can't do this/that, can't go there since IT is there.

SHE: already angry Get over with it. Just go and do whatever I have told you.

ME: Mom, I am literally scared of it, I am not joking due to that day it is kind of impossible for me. I feel like its gonna end up on me and I feel like running away.

SHE: *either leaves the room/ ends the conversation/ tells me how I am gonna live my life if I am like this*

Nowadays she scolds me a hell lot if I don't do any work asked by her because I saw the reptile in the same room or something like that.

I live in India so temperature shoots up during April - Aug so IT comes out a good amount of times.

I don't know how to make her understand?

I guess if she understood this she won't be scolding me for it.

  • 2
    How far along are you in getting a therapist? Making progress with your phobia should also help with your mom. – DaveG Apr 10 at 15:39
  • Is there a way to barter, e.g. offer to do other chores instead of washroom-related ones? This would be a way to show that you are willing to help around the house. Alternately, maybe you can offer to help with the same chore but from a distance? – eurieka Apr 10 at 20:07
  • @DaveG I will start sessions from next week. – Swarley Apr 11 at 4:20
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    @eurieka I do that without even her asking but if she asks me something and I am unable to do it because of that then I have to get ready to listen to her/face silent treatment. – Swarley Apr 11 at 4:22
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So, this is a messy situation in part because of your mother's relationship (direct/indirect) with your phobia. I'm also neither a psychologist nor in India, so I am not able to address those aspects of it in an impartial way. It's a lot to unpack, and you should do that with a professional.

However, here are some general tips I have for getting personal acquaintances to understand a phobia:

  1. Explaining what a phobia means by definition. Phobias are irrational fears - you cannot control them, and they cannot be rationalized away. Oftentimes, people get very real, very PHYSICAL ailments from them, e.g. panic attacks, an inability to move, etc. They seem "bizarre" to other people because they are irrational. That is entirely the point. And once people realize that, they are less likely to believe they can explain it away. If they still think they can, they probably didn't grasp the concept. I've found repetition helps, but it depends on the person.

  2. Acknowledge the rational part of the situation and emphasize what happens because of a phobia - you (in your head) know that it's safe, but you can't help feeling sick when you see something that causes your phobia.

  3. Trying to overcome the phobia in small, piece-wise steps. Sometimes you're just not ready - and that's perfectly valid!! But when people see you trying, they might give you more leeway. At least it looks like it's getting better, and if it isn't, at least you look proactive in trying to get rid of it.

I wish I could say more, but I am not qualified to do so. Hopefully these tips can still be useful in some capacity. Best of luck with everything!

| improve this answer | |
  • I can try point number 2. Have tried explaining phobia but it was all in vain. – Swarley Apr 11 at 4:23
  • If someone refuses to learn what a phobia is, there is very little that you can do. You could buy a gun and put a bullet in the place where you see IT - maybe that would explain a phobia to your mother (not that I would recommend it). PS A friend took a course at a zoo near London which changed her fear of spiders to a normal level. So this is possible to overcome. – gnasher729 Apr 17 at 17:52

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