Most people confuse the words fear and phobia thinking that they mean the same thing. Though the two words are closely related, each word has a different meaning. Fear is often described as a concern or an anxiety. Whereas a phobia takes fear a step further and is a persistent, irrational fear.
In my ignorance, I once believed that people who had phobias were crazy. It’s an immature, preconceived notion; and sadly, it was what I once thought. Boy was I wrong! Anyone can develop a phobia. In fact, I did. I took what was only an insignificant fear, and managed to let that fear manifest itself into a phobia. That’s when I learned that a fear can easily turn into something more if left alone.
The correct term for my phobia is Ornithophobia. In short, I have a completely, irrational fear of birds. I am truly mortified in their presence. In fact, my phobia has grown and extended itself over time; and now I find it very difficult to eat, cook, or see eggs or any kind of poultry.
My fear of birds started when I was nine-years-old. I can remember watching the movie The Birds with my sisters-it terrified me. My sisters, as siblings often do, mocked and teased me. Their so-called harmless teasing haunted me for days, even months. That one experience stayed with me, and that’s all it took.
I learned very early that my growing fear of birds would make doing simple day-to-day activities very hard. I was someone who once enjoyed going down to the pond to feed the “duckies,” but eventually I became the girl who yelled whenever she saw a pigeon. Walking down the streets of my city was rough; there were always pigeons lurking around, and they were EVERYWHERE!
Each time I saw a bird, I would get a little anxious. My anxiety grew. My thoughts overtook me. I started to think about what could possibly happen to me. What if a bird suddenly flies directly towards me? Will it attack? My anxiety grew even more, and the sad part was I had become the alleged “crazy person.” There have been so many times in my life when my anxieties lead to panic attacks, and my panic attacks lead to anger. I have had (and sometimes still have) the ability to get really upset with myself about my phobia. Sometimes I wonder, am I teaching my kids to be anxious? Am I teaching them to be afraid?
What I Learned and What I Hope Others Will Learn From Me
If you find fear overtaking your life, if you are experiencing relentless anxiety about something, try to nip it in the bud early and conquer that fear. Anxieties can become a very serious problem if they are not dealt with accordingly and promptly. And there is nothing wrong with seeking a little help. It’s something we all need every now and again. My fear of the unknown paralyzed me. Of course, I could not have known that at the tender age of 9 it would have grown in the way it has. But the lesson I’ve learned as a result is that fear, if allowed, will continue to grow. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to put my fears behind me.
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please contact The Stone Foundation by clicking here, or by phone at 410-296-2004.
Victoria Johnson is a Communications major who maintains honors status at the Anne Arundel Community College. She currently writes for The Baltimore Times and has written for the AACC school newspaper, The Campus Current. Victoria’s talent stems beyond her writing and schooling. She is also the co-founder of God’s Jewels, a charitable organization designed to benefit individuals in Africa who seek spiritual enlightenment.