We’ve all heard that word.
Sometimes we hear it during a discussion about someone else. “She doesn’t like elevators – she has claustrophobia.” Or, “he can’t stand being in that little apartment – it gives him claustrophobia.”
Sounds mundane, that is, unless YOU are the one with claustrophobia.
It’s all about feeling trapped, unable to get out, and OUT of CONTROL! That’s really what claustrophobia is all about. It is a type of anxiety having to do with the inability to control a situation. And yes, that has everything to do with small spaces from which we are unable to escape.
In Cobwebs – A Suspense Novel, Jamie (the main character) suffers from claustrophobia. She is well aware that this type of anxiety plagues her. She just doesn’t know why.
Do any of us who suffer claustrophobia really know why? Was it something that happened to us as a child? Was it something we saw in a movie, or read in a book?
I suffer from claustrophobia. Not as much as I used to — but it has taken a conscious effort on my part to get past it. I used to cringe when a dozen people crowded into an elevator after I stepped in. I used to have a tough time in small bathrooms at restaurants or places of business. Parking garages used to make me sweat. And forget the idea of going into a cave. Underground. Where it’s dark and there might be a cave-in.
Oh yeah. I read all of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories when I was young. He was the first true mystery writer, and he seemed to be obsessed with placing people in walls and crypts and any place where they were trapped alive, soon to die screaming, with torn bloodied finger nails, unable to scratch their way out of wherever they were. I’m certain I dreamed about those stories. And I’m certain that my own experiences in the darkness – imagined or real – fed the already existing nightmare of being stuck somewhere and totally out of control.
The good thing is, I’ve just about conquered my claustrophobia. I’ve crawled into caves, and spent time in them. I’ve been in stuffed elevators without breaking a sweat. And parking garages (although uncomfortable) hardly bother me at all.
In Cobwebs, Jamie manages to overcome the paralyzing anxiety and actually remember the event that resulted in her intense fear of small, dark places. With that memory, she is finally free – and the mystery of her family’s hidden tragedy is revealed.
I’m curious. Do YOU have claustrophobia?
Check back this Friday, Sept. 5, for a historic overview of the setting for Cobwebs, Pawhuska, Oklahoma in Osage County.