6 Feb 2013


Since I was seven years old I have had a very real phobia of needles. It has prevented me from visiting different countries that require vaccines, stopped me from seeking medical attention for (fortunately) minor ailments and has generally had a huge bearing on my life for the past 23 years.

How did it all begin? The Dentist. I was absolutely fine with it all until then actually. Before that I'd needed numerous blood tests etc and always been fine but when I came to have teeth removed they told me I was having knockout gas and when I turned around they were whacking a syringe into the bend of my arm. No wonder then that that is the area I'm the most phobic about people even touching. At the present time I can't even bear to look at people extending their forearms in this fashion. I suppose nowadays I'd have a case to sue for damages (curse you 1980's and your lack of ridiculous suing culture!)

My 'rock bottom' was a couple of years ago when to talk about needles made me feel breathless and it all culminated in a bit of upset at work. I'd taken a job as a receptionist at a Doctors surgery and one of the girls said I might need a Hepatitis injection because I was handling samples. I freaked and the first thing I thought was that I could either run or hand my notice in and run. I don't suppose these are healthy attitudes when you have bills to pay but hey ho. After a lot of tears, the nurse talked me round into staying and for one the first times in my adult life I felt like someone had really listened and understood. She talked me through different options she'd offered needle phobics before and it helped me feel like I'd have someone to trust if I needed advice about any of it. At this point, I couldn't even hold boxes if I knew there was a syringe casing in it.

Nearly a year later, I found myself working in a pharmacy. At this point I had decided that I had to try and sort all this out and try and take baby steps to desensitise myself. Surrounded by lots of very understanding colleagues I've really tested myself and after a year and a half of working there I can hold the boxes with them in and even look at the real thing so long as I'm the one in control. This sounds very insignificant but I assure you it's one of the biggest adjustments of my life.

Rant time...The most irritating things people can say to a needle phobic are as follows:

-It's just a scratch
-Don't fuss it's over in a second
-Look away and you won't notice
-I'm scared of needles too
-Lots of people are scared of needles

I think most people don't understand phobias. I know how I feel is irrational and that doesn't hurt very much but getting my mind and body to go along with this is quite something else. I was asked at my 'rock bottom' if my life or my family and friends lives depended in me having an injection in the bend of my arm would I do it? The answer was and is 'no' and I am DISGUSTED at myself and I love my family and friends more than anything but but that's how strong the grip of a phobia is.

I'm now on a quest to try and sort this out so any tips you have or alerting me to mechanisms you have seen that exist would be greatly appreciated. Wish me luck!