By Kari Villanueva
You enter an elevator. This is it—a normal thing that normal people do. You press the floor number and you stand in the far right corner watching the glowing button. You will breath just fine. No one is even in here with you, you tell yourself. Just then, a family of four walks into the elevator you’re in; the two steel doors shut noiselessly behind them.
It’s ok, nothing will happen. However, just after you tell yourself that your vision starts to go blurry. The edges start to go black and you begin to sweat. Your clothes stick to your body, and you can see the family look at you strangely. Next, you feel the walls closing in and you are no longer able to breath with ease. You hear your own short and fast breaths; you feel like you just can’t get enough oxygen, as if a sumo wrestler were standing on your chest.
The elevator……too much weight…..going to fall…..no room. Your thoughts are not consistent and you slip in and out of reality. Finally, after what seems like hours, you hear the ding from the elevator informing you that you have reached your floor. You rush out and feel the cool air wash over you, and the man standing on your chest finally leaves.
In the United States, 2.5% of people have claustrophobia. What is it like to cope with phobias in everyday life? Actress, Jennifer Love Hewitt, is claustrophobic. She says, “My biggest fear is claustrophobia and that’s not a good one to have … ‘Let’s fit 90 people in and go up to floor 68′ – not my thing. I can’t do more than five people.”
And her phobia has created problems for her on movie sets. She explains, “I had to do a scene in one of those tanning beds … and they had to light it for the movie we were doing, so it was, like, 100 degrees. We were in Mexico, which was really hot, and the room we were in had no air conditioning and I passed out right in the middle of the tanning bed.”
Not only celebrities have problems with their phobias in workplaces, but also ordinary people. In fact, laws have and are being passed to diminish office cubicles. Could you imagine trying to work in a place that you fear?
You come in for another day of writing reports and answering angry phone calls. You enter the room in which your colleagues also work. Your chest rises and falls steeply as you take a deep sigh. You sit heavily into your hard chair that gives you horrible posture; your hands shake while you type. Even though you have decorated the blank grey canvas with pictures of the wide open outdoors, nothing could trick your mind into thinking there is no danger. The unmerciful small square starts to shrink again. In a matter of an hour, you go home early for the fourth time this week.
Recently, some rumors have been spilling that the American with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) has been discussing abandoning the old cubicles and providing more understanding between a boss and an employee who has a phobia.
How common are phobias?
Phobias are more common than you might think. A famous celebrity with a phobia is Billy Bob Thornton—he is afraid of antique furniture. “I get creeped out and I can’t breathe and I can’t eat around it,” Thornton once told Sky News. “I’ve had friends tell me that maybe I was beaten to death with an antique chair in a former life.” He’s also afraid of bold colors.
Johnny Depp and Daniel Radcliffe are frightened of clowns. “Something about the painted face, the fake smile,” Depp said in 1999 when he was promoting the film Sleepy Hollow”
“There always seemed to be a darkness lurking just under the surface, a potential for real evil.” Could you imagine Johnny Depp, of all people, being afraid of clowns?
Orlando Bloom is scared of pigs. Scarlett Johansson is frightened of cockroaches. Nicole Kidman fears butterflies. Justin Timberlake gets the chills from snakes, spiders and sharks.
You can think of all the obstacles that their phobias create in their line of work. There are many injustices for people who have phobias and try to work through them. So let us unlucky souls who have phobias unite in the workplace!