Sunday, 17 February 2013

Phobias


What I am writing about here is real horror, not zombies/werewolves and twinkling vampires. The real horrors of real people who suffer a phobia that is not recognised, yet as real as arachnophobia or claustrophobia. I know it to be real because I am a sufferer.
If you Google Escalaphobia, you will be lucky to get anything as this phobia is both rare and recognised. There is not much more on the subject on Wikipedia either, but to the few people in a thousand that suffer, we know how to describe it.
In layman’s terms, it is the fear of escalators. That is stupid you say. We use them every day and never think of them, stop for a moment and think of what they do. From the earliest cleaning crews, to the last lock-up at night. These metal stairs are endlessly travelling, how many people use them or how far they travel in one day is hard to calculate.
Children run up and down them, people step on and off the escalators at will, with hardly a thought. Many send text messages while they travel, but to some of us these things are not possible as we need to concentrate on the stairs.
How do you tell a child who is using them for the first time; that it is okay for the stairs to move?
The horror comes when you see a child frozen on the stairs and you see the look of terror on their parents face as they realise, unless something is done quickly their loved child will be horribly mangled by the relentless metal monster. With less feeling than a zombie has for its victims. The stairs may shudder as the leg is trapped but this will only slow it down for a second.
One of my pet peeves is connected to my phobia too, I hate people who get off the escalator and stop dead to talk, do they not realise the escalators keep pulling people up? Regardless of what happens.
To give you some idea of what it is like, I only found I had the phobia about ten years ago; I was standing at the top of some stairs in our city centre. Something I had done on a weekly basis for many years on shopping trips; only this time it was different. Instead of seeing the stairs, all I saw was an endless slide. I couldn’t make out where each step ended; to me they became a slide of ridged metal.
After a visit to the doctor’s it was determined that I had an eye to brain problem and had failed to distinguish the depth of the steps. I was sent to get some spectacles, which did correct the problem slightly. Even so, whenever I get on an escalator now, I have to stop for a few moments to check my foot lands in the middle and not on the edge. I am sure people behind me, think I am silly or an old fuddy-duddy. These days the edges have yellow stripes but that is not really of any value to me.
As far as I am aware, there is no cure because the problem is not recognised, and each victim has an individual set of symptoms that are as unique as your DNA. 

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