I overcame my arachnophobia!

overcoming arachnophobia

Arachnophobia, fear of spiders, is one of the most common phobias. In the United States, more than 30% of the population is afraid of the eight-legged creatures. For the first 19 years of my life, I suffered from this phobia as well, until I unintentionally overcame my fear. 

My irrational fear of spiders used to dominate a big part of my life. I used to avoid places where they would usually hang out, such as our attic and our garage. Seeing a spider somewhere meant avoiding that particular location for the next couple of weeks, even if I had to be there.

Years of fear

I distinctly remember several instances where arachnophobia got the best of me. One of the last times it happened I was 18 years old. I used to check my bedroom for spiders every evening, and one evening I noticed a big spider under my bed. That must have been my worst fear at the time. I yelled, and I cried, and my dad had to come over and kill the spider. But I didn’t feel safe anymore. For the next week, I slept downstairs on the couch. I slept terribly and looked like a walking zombie for the entire week, but I was too afraid to return to my room.

Shortly afterwards everything started to get better. In the first year of college, we received the assignment to invent an alter ego and to create a visual introduction to the character. I made a list of all the things that defined me, including arachnophobia, and decided to give my alter ego opposite traits. The alter ego turned out to be this scary woman that was in love with spiders.

Alter Ego

Overcoming arachnophobia

Education

I did a lot of research about spiders back then because I wanted all the info around my fictional character to be scientifically correct. I spent my evenings reading Wikipedia articles and watching youtube videos related to spiders, so I got to learn a lot about them. The chance of dying from a spider bite is minuscule these days. Black widows haven’t killed anyone in years. Knowing all those facts made me feel a lot safer already. 

Exposure

For the artistic part of the school project, I decided to make self-portraits dressed up as my character. I used stock photos of big spiders and photoshopped them on my back. To my surprise looking at spider pictures didn’t make me feel scared anymore. I also wanted to use my attic as a background because it looked a bit scary up there. I always avoided that place because it was filled with real spiders. But I decided to give it a try anyway. I ended up spending a couple of hours taking pictures in the attic, surrounded by spiders. For some reason, they didn’t freak me out anymore.

Overcoming Arachnophobia (fear of spiders)

Am I really cured?

It started to feel as if I had overcome my fear. So to test if my assumption was correct, I went to an animal convention where spiders were sold and asked if I could handle a tarantula. I was way too surprised by its fluffiness to actually be afraid. After that, I started to grow more and more comfortable with them. I even handled a few wild spiders in the house.  I had overcome my fear. Unintentionally. I no longer suffered from arachnophobia. When I look at spiders now, I no longer see monsters, but I see animals instead. 

For me, the combination of education (research about spiders) and exposure (forcing myself to look at them over and over again) helped me to get over my fear of spiders. I’ll share a detailed guide on how to overcome arachnophobia in a later blog post as well.

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37 Comments

  1. I’m not sure if I have arachnophobia I’m not scared of tarantulas,or if they are still I’m fine but I do freak out when they are near me and they move. I used to be completely immobilised if one was even in the same house as me, so I’m getting there. Well done on overcoming yours 🙂

  2. Okay seriously this post was major confirmation. I’ve been arachnophobic my whole life and I think it has a lot to do with observing my mother fear of spiders and just the fact that they creeped me out. But this is excellent advice and to my awareness all things they recommend in basic therapy for over coming phobias. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you! It’s awesome that you hate them being on you because they tickle you and you’re afraid of hurting them! It’s so different from most people!

  3. This is so fantastic and I’m so happy for you that you could overcome your fear! I hope anyone else with similar fears will see this post and can learn a little from you xx

    1. Thank you! And I hope so too. Living with a phobia is just too annoying. And spiders are everywhere, which makes it even harder to live with arachnophobia. I’m glad I’m over it.

  4. Interesting! Love how gave your alter ego the opposite trait and how you used it for a creative school project 🙂 I am amazed that you were able to conquer your fear of spiders by doing this. Do you think this is applicable to different fears in Life as well or for example, people who struggle with self-esteem?

    1. I think so. I started therapy a while ago because I still have an intense fear of failing, and my therapist recommended me to start making some small mistakes or get into situations where I potentially could fail. She says it’s to get used to the fact that nothing bad will happen after doing whatever it is you’re afraid of, which makes a lot of sense to me.

      I’ve been trying to follow her advice. It helps, but to be honest, the progress is way slower than with the arachnophobia. But let’s hope that I’m able to get completely over that fear as well at some point . I’m happy as long as I’m improving, no matter how slow.

  5. Good job! This is exactly why I’ve taken up rock climbing recently: so I can get over my acrophobia. I’m still working on that though, but I’ll let you know if I’m ever cured 🙂

    1. I don’t have much experience with those, but if those phobias are interfering too much with your daily life, I’d advise talking to a therapist. They’ll help you find out where this fear comes from, and will work on a plan to overcome your phobias or at least manage your anxiety related to them.

      If you feel claustrophobic and start panicking, you could do some breathing exercises. The best is to breathe in very deeply (it’s ok to make noise), hold the breath, and then breathe out all the air. And repeat this a couple of times. It’s similar to meditation I guess, but a bit easier to get into.

      As for your fear of death, I’m not sure. I sometimes get scared that an accident or illness will happen (whenever I have a cold I get scared it’s something worse) and in that case staying away from the internet and doing some logical thinking helps. “My doctor checked up on me; he might be wrong with the diagnosis, but worrying about that won’t change a thing. Let’s follow his instructions first, and see what happens”. But there are probably better ways to deal with it than this, and I’m sure a therapist could help.

      Good luck! x

  6. Woww…..what an interesting story. Happy to heard that finally you can handle it and you became a spider lover now. It´s really amazing story.
    Thanks for sharing this story to us.
    XOX,Kintan

  7. Just reading your story and thinking about spiders is creeping me out. While I’m sure they are the most terrifying thing in the world, I think I’ll still keep my distance as much as possible. Glad you were able to overcome your fear, though.