Conquering the Needle Phobia

This thing really gets under my skin. HA! omg do you get it

Almost a year ago, I first wrote about my needle phobia. Since then, I’ve gotten an IV, which was a major milestone (I wrote about that before and after). It isn’t the pain that bothers me – that’s minor anyway. For reasons I don’t understand, my phobia is a mental reaction to the idea of the needle itself. The symptoms – mostly nausea and lightheadedness – have been triggered in the past just by looking at pictures of needles, or even talking about them.

Since that first post, I’ve embarked on a campaign of systematic desensitization to lessen my horror of needles. First, I set my screen saver to a slideshow of needle-related images, which it still is to this day. (That does get some interesting reactions from guests.) The pictures used to bother me so much I couldn’t even look at them, but they’re no big deal anymore. Then, I upped the ante to videos. Every day, I watch a YouTube clip of someone having blood drawn. Again, this used to make me so sick I had to look away after a few seconds, but now I have almost no reaction at all.

That’s the great thing about systematic desensitization. With remarkable consistency, it just works.

My ultimate goal is for the experience itself to be mundane. I want to have routine medical procedures without fear. I want to donate blood – my last major milestone, my Everest. I’m not there yet. But if the videos don’t bother me anymore, what’s next?

I’ve decided to start volunteering at blood drives. In keeping with the systematic desensitization plan, I’m starting small. Last week I sat at a desk for an hour and a half, in the waiting room outside where the procedures were happening, and registered donors. When I had downtime, I read through the donor guidebook. Minimal exposure to the phobia triggers, no big deal. Next time maybe I’ll volunteer to be a donor escort, and go into the room with them.

Already, the idea of donating blood has changed in my mind. It’s gone from being a personal vision of hell to a personal objective, a target to which strategies and tactics may be applied. I call that pretty exciting.

What are you frightened of?

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8 responses to “Conquering the Needle Phobia

  1. Congrats on your progress! That’s really impressive. I look foward to hearing about your experience when you eventually get to the point of donating blood. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I used to be arachnophobic, but got over that when I had to deal with huntsmen (large, hairy, fast spiders) in the house all the time while my son was a baby. There’s nothing like maternal instinct for overcoming phobias. It was essentially a VERY rapid desensitization process, aided by the whole mother thing, which resulted in me being able to deal with things like this.

    When I was younger, I had a severe fear of stepping on manhole covers. Odd, but true.

  2. Brian, you truly are a remarkable individual.

    My answer to your question will sound an awful lot like male bravado. When it comes to myself, there is very little in the physical world that scares me. That’s not to say I don’t flinch when a baseball bat appears to be coming at my head, but beyond momentary reactions I don’t live in fear of anything physical (caveat: lions… I don’t think I want to meet a lion outside of a cage… or a jaguar…).

    There are two things that I do fear, to the point that they can be paralyzing (and self fulfilling because of it). Failing to protect the people I feel responsible for and failure in general. I don’t handle failure well, if at all.

  3. Wow- that’s more will than I think I could find in myself.

    Myself, I’m not frightened by anything in particular. I just get slightly-more-than-normal scared of most everything. Except animals- growing up on a farm in the country does that to you.

  4. It’s going to be ending of mine day, except before ending I am reading this wonderful article to increase my know-how.

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