Thoughts on Living with a Phobia

Here are my thoughts: I loathe phobias.

I hate them with the hate of a thousand needles in a cheating ex-boyfriend’s eye. I hate them so viciously that I wish I could stab phobias with my phobic killing sword.

Hope has a bug phobia. It is horrible.

I fucking hate it. Yes, I do not like to use all out curse words in this space, but the reality is that this phobia thing warrants a full on f-bomb.

Everywhere we go, everything we do, somewhere, there is the possibility of there being a bug.

When we got to Paris, Hope acted shocked that there were bugs. But when we got to Switzerland it was like she was furious that I did not warn her that, yes, in fact, the country has bugs.

There seems to be a noticeable amount of ladybugs and bees here. They are not particularly noticeable to me and Grammy. They have largely shaped Hope’s miserable Swiss experience, and thus, they have shaped all of our miserable Swiss experiences.

I must admit that I try desperately to be kind, understanding and sympathetic to my daughter’s phobia but seriously, it has become a major trigger for me because her fear routinely creates dangerous situations for everyone around her.

Wanna know how I discovered she had a phobia?

A couple of years ago, a gnat got in the car and she literally came across the front seat and pushed me out of the drivers side door while the car was moving. Fortunately we were in a parking lot and the car came to rest on a parking block. I wasn’t sure what was happening; I just knew that I had to get away from her and whatever it was she was freaked out about. I’m glad we were in a parking lot; I shudder to think what would have happened had we been on the freeway.

We have tried hypnosis to modest success, but the reality is that this phobia is debilitating.If I don’t kill everything around us, the only legitimate response apparently, I’m a horrible person. Today, I had to keep her from falling in the Rhine River and pull her from the path of an oncoming bus as she spun out of control *running* from a bee minding its own business buzzing by. This evening I nearly dropped my laptop when she pushed me off of the couch from a bug that was across the room under a chair. I just sent her to her sealed off room in tears because she seemed insistent to stay on bug watch and as my grandma would say, you keep looking and you will find what you’re looking for. Magically, a spider appeared on the wall and she freaked the hell out, yelling, screaming and crying. I’m praying the neighbors don’t call the our host to snitch on us.

We could close the windows, but air conditioning is not really a thing here and it’s currently about 71 degrees outside. Screens aren’t a thing either.

I’m sure I handled it all wrong, but I’m like, it’s late, no one is up, stop looking for bugs, go the eff to sleep. #samueljackson I spent the afternoon saving you and trying not to get accidentally killed in the process because a bee flew by minding its own frigging business. I’ve done breathing exercises with her. I encouraged meditation and mindfulness. I’ve sat with her to try to get on top of the anxiety. I’ve drugged her.

Seriously. I. Don’t. Know. What. Else. To. Do.

And I am tapped out. I’m exhausted. This leg of the trip has felt like one miserable disaster after another and I can’t wait to get home. I know she feels the same. Grammy feels the same. We all feel the same. I just want to rest because this trip has been anything but restful.

So, I’m girding myself for one last day in Switzerland and one last day in Paris. I’m hoping for a mini-reset. We need it. Hope needs it. Grammy and I need it.

Phobias suck and they suck for everyone.

In an effort to put some good energy out there, here are some snaps from our time in Switzerland!


About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted my now adult daughter in 2014, and this blog chronicles my journey. Feel free to contact me at, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©, 2013-2022. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

7 responses to “Thoughts on Living with a Phobia

  • Susan

    Sending you good thoughts. You are a good mom.

  • Tanya

    I am bird phobic. Big time. I have been known to hit the ground if one flies a bit close. I know the reason, I was attacked by a rooster when I was two years old. I don’t remember it happening but my body sure does, its a reaction that I can’t help or stop.

    It is frustrating for everyone involved (I get it, I am also a mum) and bugs are everywhere. I hope that Hope can find a way to ease the fear a bit.

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      ❤ Intellectually I get it. Emotionally I get it too, but practically it’s so hard to manage. We know the origins of her phobia as well and it’s rooted in trauma. I hate feeling like I add too the trauma, but she’s prone to dangerous behavior when triggered. Then it becomes dangerous for anyone around. I hope to get her back into the hypnotherapist soon to see if a tune up will help, but this has been especially hard. Thanks for your comment!

  • Marieke

    Here I have heard good results with EMDR. Over here it is done only by psychotherapists and also widely used for trauma. It might be a good fit for hope ( A friend of mine does this with teenagers with signifanct feara and trauma. She says her teenager always tell hwr it didn’t do a thing and the two sentences alter. I feel goos write now I even went to the supermarket yesterday ( from a kid with fear of busy spaces..).

  • Rw

    Much empathy for both of you. Have you worked with anyone who does Exposure and Response Prevention type therapy? May be helpful. Also, I wonder if in conjunction with therapy, you (or ideally someone else with whom the relationship is less charged) could talk with H about her thoughts/feelings on the phobia/impact. Not in any way to suggest it’s in her control or she’s trying to be difficult, but she may need help seeing benefit to her of doing the kinds of therapies that are highly uncomfortable but potentially life-changing. I.e. what does the phobia as currently managed cost her that she values- what happens at school/boarding school? Military, if that remains an interest? Again, not to ‘scare her straight’ but to generate buy-in, if needed, to process of change.

  • Laura

    I have a friend with a needle phobia but she likes to tell her stories with so much humor that you can’t help laughing. This gives me an idea of how hard it can be to live with a *real* phobia, not just a gosh-I-hate-bugs thing. Keep on keeping on. Sending you strength — I hope you all find time to relax into your surroundings. (Those photos are beautiful!)

  • Liz

    Phobias are supposed to be very treatable with gradual exposure therapy, I thought? Like first you learn to think about a bug in a protected setting, then you look at a picture of one, etc. or even more gradual? Perhaps Hope wasn’t open to that.

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