Overcoming Spider Phobia – Before

Background:

I was forwarded an email from the psychology department of the university and urged by my boyfriend to consider it. It read as follows: “Overcome Spider Phobia”. After a lot of thought, spread out over a couple of days, I decided to go for it. What could I lose? I probably couldn’t become more scared of spiders than I already am and the techniques used claim to have 80% success rate with people who feel the way I do about spiders. It’s time to reclaim control.

So, how do I feel about spiders? When I see a spider that’s all my mind can focus on until the spider is eliminated (sorry spider-lovers, I wish this weren’t so). I have nightmares about spiders that wake me up in the middle of the night, thrashing about, only to realize that I had been scared by my own curly hair lurking by my face as a big, dark, hairy, spider-like visage. Terrifying, I know.

A dark clump of threads that fell on the floor – Brain, “SPIDER! Oh…”.

A big, dark fly crawling across the wall – Brain, “SPIDER! Oh…”

A small, dark spider on the floor – Brain, “SPIDER! SPIDER! SPIDER! S…” You get the point.

Why must I kill said spider? Because it is the quickest, surest way to know that the threat is gone. I know people put cups over them, or can even be brave enough to mercifully scoop the thing into a cup and put it outside. I wish I could do this, but (currently) the fear is too paralyzing. Nor can I just leave the spider, because do you know what that spider’s going to then do? It will (surely) either lay eggs and one day there will be a hellish eruption as its spawn flood my apartment, or it’s going to resurface from the place I least expect, at the worst time possible, most likely when I’m alone and trapped in a corner or something.

If you too, dear reader, are scared of spiders, you get it. To those of you who are not, I apologize if you are feeling frustrated or impatient reading this. I will try my best to explain my perspective. That being said, people experience arachnophobia in different ways and my experience does not describe all.

It is a fear. An irrational, mind-freezing, gut-wrenching fear. And I say that because I recognize how stupid this fear is, yet I want to explain how insidiously it cuts through my brain-body communication and makes me violent.

I am very aware, that the majority of spiders I come across in daily life will do absolutely no harm to me AND that I pose more physical threat to a spider than it does to me. I’ve tried the rational approach when encountering spiders. My boyfriend has taught me that as soon as my brain screams, “SPIDER!”, my inner monologue should respond quickly with a “Yes. (Pause, deep breath). Okay, now what?”. This allows me to think through to that next step and recognize that I’m not in immediate danger and can tough it out a little longer to make sure I deal with the spider in a more appropriate way. I’ve practiced this enough that it has become a habit and has saved me from a number of embarrassing public outbursts. It has also helped prevent impressing my fears onto young children, who learn to mimic the behavior of adults. Not to mention, it has saved me from doing something stupid on the occasion that I saw a spider crawling across the dashboard as I was driving.

That being said, this doesn’t work for me at all when encountering bigger spiders. Since everyone’s perception of “big” is a little different when it comes to spiders, let me clarify; I’m talking about any spider that is at all thick-legged or thick-bodied and is the size of a quarter or bigger.

Some of you may be wondering, “Olivia, you went backpacking, you garden, how can you do such activities with such a debilitating fear? Spiders are everywhere.” You are correct; however, for some reason, my brain differentiates between my territory and their territory. Any spider that enters my territory (i.e. my apartment, the bus, my lab, other human spaces) must die. Whereas, when I am outside, my brain recognizes that this is spider land and that I’m going to come across some and am not going to be able to kill them. When I’m out there in the garden, I will typically just move away from said spider and work somewhere else for a bit until my nerves calm down; as long as they are not on me, things are generally fine. I’m sure some of you are thinking that everywhere is technically spider land, and yes, you may be correct, but not to my brain.

I don’t know why I’m scared of spiders; that’s exactly the reason I’m doing this study. It’s a feeling that I can’t think my way through. It’s something about how they move, how sturdy they are, how hairy, how chunky. It’s something about the eyes, the body shape, the webs, that screams “CREEPY” and “EVIL INCARNATE”. It’s a loss of control and uncertainty that I feel around them that makes me react in such a way.

For me, the bigger and thicker the spider, the more terrifying. It is no overstatement to say that my worst nightmare is being trapped in a small room with a tarantula…

…And guess what I’m going to make myself do?

 

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A Bra That {Actually} Fits

Hey!

This is a shout-out to anyone who wears a bra, has worn a bra, or is looking to buy a bra that fits correctly. And it’s important. For years I have been wearing an improperly fitted bra. How do I know this? Because my kind boyfriend gently pointed out that when I bend over, I flash any surrounding people with my nipples. As someone who supports the “Free the Nipple” Campaign, I see nothing wrong with people seeing my nipples (we all have nipples after all), however, it may have frightened some of my more conservative friends, colleagues, family, etc. For that, I’m very sorry; I hope you haven’t had nightmares about my boobs. This comment did alert me to two larger problems: one, that my bras were not fitting as I had assumed they were. When I stood upright, my boobs seemed pretty content and well adjusted, but boy was I wrong. And two, that my boyfriend, someone who does not have boobs, knew more about them than I, someone with boobs, did. To be fair, he may have more interest in boobs that I do, but I’m a strong proponent of knowing one’s body and self – so things needed to change.

 

Now, you may not be flashing everyone you see on a daily basis, but you might have back-ache, straps that don’t stay in place, cups that are too small, bands that rise up your back, the list goes on… Basically, why not double-check that you’re wearing the right bras size?

 

So here’s the link. It explains 5 measurements you should take in order to more accurately size yourself. Insert those measurements into this calculator, and voilà! You will have an estimated bra size along with two close sister sizes.

 

YES, this is way different than a Victoria’s Secret sizing. Let’s being with the fact that if you go to Victoria’s Secret for a sizing, they do it over the shirt. This is understandable because boobs are so sexual they must be kept a secret unless in an intimate moment or for porn. Duh. No one could be comfortable showing a stranger their boobs for something as practical and asexual as a bra fitting. But let’s be real. Many bras, especially those bought from VS (and I’m going to guess that that is where you purchase your bras if you’re having a fitting there) come with extra padding. This can change the shape and size of your naturally beautiful boobs (because you know, that industry tells us that only one look is okay to have). So it’s really important to do the measurements naked (at least from the waist-up) so that you get the best sizing for your unique boobs. Yes, they are unique. And it’s amazing. Take a minute to appreciate your boobs. Second, VS only carries band sizes 30-40”. Did you know there are band sizes as small as 26”? Many of you are probably wearing a band size that is way too big! I was. VS sized me as a 32C. Way too big. I could literally pull the bra band away from my body and stick several water bottles between my bra band and my upper body. Using the calculator above, I found out my bra size is a 28DD. Yup. Mainstream bra industry/society teaches us that anything above a D cup is INSANELY HUGE. It’s not. I don’t have insanely huge boobs. Hah. The fact is, cup size corresponds to band size. For example, a 36C cup is a lot bigger that a 30C cup. Don’t be too shocked if the bra size calculator gives you a bigger cup size that VS did.

 

I’m going to take a second to mention that my intention is not to hate on VS. I’m sure there are many people happy with their VS bras, and that’s wonderful. Now, back to the content…

 

…So once you’ve figured out your size estimate, what now? In general, Reddit’s A Bra That Fits is a fantastic resource to use once you’ve determined your size. You can find anything from size variations among brands, to bras for every budget, to where to try on and buy bras in sizes that aren’t usually stocked. In regards to brands, thanks to A Bra That Fits I’ve found Panche and Freya to be brands that are great for D+ boobs of all band sizes. Additionally, I have found Amazon Prime to be amazing. Free shipping and free returns has helped me try on bras and figure out my exact size in the comfort of my own home, since I haven’t found a single store (yes, including Nordstrom) that stocks a 28’’ band size. Thanks to Amazon I’ve been able to find bras that fit pretty perfectly.

 

Everyone deserves undergarments that fit. Best of luck with your boobies, I hope you find a bra that fits! Please feel free to message me with questions and share this post with anyone who wears a bra 🙂

 

Finally, a very special thank you to David, for showing me A Bra That Fits and helping me learn more about boobs.