June 25, 2004

Lilapsophobia

So it has a name. Good old Google.

Lilapsophobia, an abnormal and persistent fear of tornadoes and hurricanes.

Jenna's got it.

We're not talking curiosity, we're talking listening for sirens in the air on a partly cloudy day.

It started with watching a weather channel special on twisters. Educational, I thought. What could it hurt?

I have now heard the word twister or tornado approximately 139 times in the last five days. Most frequently as the last word before she falls asleep and the first word upon wakening. And then several times during the day.

"If a tornado comes, will it rip the top off our house?" -- she asked me that as I'm writing this. Just now. In the last three seconds.

As we reassure her and share with her our own fears at her age, I'm hoping that this is just a childhood phase that will wane in time.

But the look in her eyes--it's the look in her eyes and the biting of nails.

They spell Lilapsophobia.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do not take lilapsophobia lightly. I have been suffering for more than twenty years. My husband, though a decent person, does not understant and is not helpful at all. He thinks because nothing is "physically" wrong with me, that there is no reason for concern. The trouble is that I now suffer from full blown panic disorder. This is not something that you can just turn off at will. I can be quite debilitating. At one time I could not leave the house. It is extreme fear. Imagine having a gun to your head a believing that you could die any second. Well, that is what it is like. Some believe an imbalance in brain chemistry may be responsible. At any rate, the person needs constant reassurrance, and never ridicule. I believe that if I had been reassurred years ago, I would not be so miserable now. Just be there for Jennie. Maybe, with some help and support, she will overcome her fears. Good Luck, Mia

Anonymous said...

I devolped this same phobia when I was only 5 years old. It was even noted on my entrance papers into kindergarten that I had an inexplicable fear of storms and tornadoes, and that I was to be separated from other kids when a storm rolled in. My parents always treated my anxiety, and panic attacks as some childhood phase, and would frequently teased me for me constant fear of tornadoes. I used to plug my ears every night when I went to bed, so that I wouldn't hear the tornado sirens go off....even in the dead of winter. I do not plug my ears anymore, but the fear and panic are more intense than they have ever been before.I can understand my family's frustration with my phobia because like me they have no idea what triggered it. Now that I am 20, I am still weighed down by the constant fear of tornadoes. I loath the approch of spring and summer, and I pass up opportunities to go out with friends because of a threat of looming storms. I am not as vocal about it as I used to be, because I am afraid of people's ridicule. My friends and parents both tease me every time the dark clouds roll in. While they laugh in my face all I want to do is cry. I really wish that they could understand, or I could understand, why it is I react the in the ways that I do. But for now, my goal is just to learn to cope with this fear and be able to function in everyday life. My advice to you would be to reassure Jenna as much as possible, and never under any circumstances tease her about it. I can't even begin to tell you the amount of guilt I feel every time I want to hide from a storm because I immidiately relate it to the harsh words of my parents. I was always told that my fear was stupid, and that I should just grow up and get over it. Hopefully for Jenna this is just a childhood phase, but if it is not please understand this fear consumes its victims on a daily basis. In the summer it is all I think about, and once fall rolls around a breathe a sigh of relief and brace myself for the upcoming summer. If this is something that sticks around just do your best to comfort her when she is afraid and explain to her that she is safe. I really think it would have made a world of difference with me.

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