Trypanophobia = a fear of injections.
I have been seeing a hypnotherapist for a couple of months now for my fear of needles. And until now, I’ve been really enjoying the experience. I pay a small sum to lie in a quiet warm room, listening to a soothing voice and taking myself into the most beautiful state of relaxation. I can’t explain how nice it feels when you get right into the light trance state that is induced. Your body feels like it’s going to sink through the bed but your mind floats off, much higher than the room, forgetting that ordinarily the two things are connected. But you have total control over your thoughts and your feelings. And when I leave the building, I’m consumed by an optimism that keeps me feeling positive for several days afterwards. I think I’m a little addicted.
But my session last night was less pleasant. We’re at the stage now where we’re really tackling the bad stuff and, whilst up until now I’ve been progressing really well, I found the session incredibly uncomfortable. When I came round, I realised I had been crying. My hypnotherapist described another person, on a television screen, preparing to give a blood sample. I’ve always known that this would be the hardest part, that this is what I fear the most. Even as I’m typing this, my arms are going dead and I feel sick. I’m acutely aware of the blood pumping through my veins on the inside of my elbows and it almost hurts.
It took us an hour last night for me to even begin to feel comfortable with this situation. It took a good twenty minutes for me to accept the image of a nurse wiping antiseptic on the person’s arm. Before there was any needle involved at all. I can’t even begin to think how long it will take me to get over the idea of it happening to me. I suppose I knew that it would get harder before it would get easier but I’m starting to feel a little frustrated about it. Because, rationally, I know that there is nothing to be scared of. Having a blood sample taken is not pleasant but people do it every day. What’s the problem?
But it makes sense that I should be scared of it. Wikipedia has this to say about phobias:
”Phobias are more often than not linked to the amygdala, an area of the brain located behind the pituitary gland in the limbic system. The amygdala secretes hormones that control fear and aggression, and aids in the interpretation of this emotion in the facial expressions of others. When the fear or aggression response is initiated, the amygdala releases hormones into the body to put the human body into an “alert” state, in which they are ready to move, run, fight, etc.”
So, effectively, what my brain is doing is telling me I shouldn’t let someone stick a needle in me and take my blood. I don’t think that’s unreasonable. The horrible bit is that, in my case, this then causes a rapid drop in blood pressure and I either sweat a lot and pass out or just want to throw up.
P.S. Wikipedia also says that treatments such as hypnotherapy are completely ineffective against trypanophobia because they encourage complete relaxation which in turn mimics the drop in blood pressure experienced as a result of the phobia. Fuck.