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Conquering Irrational Fears

As a child I watched IT, with my cousin who told me it’d be really good, as soon as I saw that creepy ass clown amongst the sheets on the washing line, I knew it wouldn’t be film that I’d enjoy….at all.

I was right and when part two came on TV a night later and I was alone, there was no way in hell I’d be watching it. 

A week or so later I was at a friends’ house, she too had watched IT and loved it (she was tougher than me), anyway she saw through my bravado and shut me in closet that had a clown hanging in it, flashed the lights on and off doing the voice …..come to think of it, this girl wasn’t very nice and not a friend.

This fear has stuck me with me ever since.

At 35, when it’s dark I’ll run from the door to the car at 4:00am, you know, in case there’s a clown lurking at the side of my house.

On the morning I hit an owl (it was traumatic) I pulled over and whilst scrambling about in the dark to see where it had gone, all I could think was “there’s a bloody grate over there”.

When I moved to university, I had a phase of sleep paralysis. 

Sleep paralysis is terrifying. 

Basically, you’re awake but can’t move, it feels like you’re being pushed down and it feels like there’s a person in your room.

You’re basically waking up,, your body is in sleep mode, but your brain has decided it is party time

It’s fairly common, seeing a figure in your room is part of it. This would happen once or twice a month and because my brain is an utter bastard at times, I’d see a clown.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know this is completely irrational. I know there isn’t psychopathic, killer clown lurking in the sewage system of Lancashire. I know a clown isn’t going to pop it’s head out of a grate and offer me a balloon, I know sleep paralysis is down to mixture of unnatural sleep patterns and anxiety but still and I can’t make this clear enough I am petrified of clowns, I have Coulrophobia.

I hate the make-up, I hate the clothes, I hate the laugh, I hate the bright hair, I hate them.

As you can probably guess it means October and Halloween are a particular treat. This year has been especially fantastic.

My village has been decorated with a whole array of scarecrows.

On the one hand, I really like the sense of community (that I haven’t taken part in) on the other I find *some* of them really creepy.

I’m not against Halloween and ten out of ten for imagination but do we really need to be reminded of poor Georgie?

My friends think my fear is stupid – aside from Sinead who also hates clowns – it’s been a source of ribbing for years, but irrational fears are something most people have….

I have a friend who is scared of sauce after a mayonnaise incident in her childhood – I have ALL the questions about this one, namely what qualifies as a sauce? When does a sauce become a puree and therefore okay?

Jess and Emily are both scared of Whales:

Jess Forbes

I have a horrendous fear of Whales 🐳 bleugh they actually make me feel sick, stems from a panic attack I had in the sea in the South of France when I was kid, nearly drowned screaming “sea beasts are everywhere” now my mind goes to the worst thing I could ever come across in the sea, a bloody big whale😆!!??


Mine’s to do with blue whales. Freaks me out that you could be swimming next to one and have no idea because they’re so big…

Emily won’t even watch Black Fish on Netflix.

Sea related fears seem to be fairly common; Craddock is scared of sharks after watching Jaws, fair, I was scared of my blue carpet after watching Jaws. Stacey had a bad experience in the sea and wouldn’t walk past the fish aisle in the supermarket.

My mum hates buttons; doesn’t like buttons where they shouldn’t be i.e not on clothes. I now know why she gave me a vase with buttons on it.

Someone told me about being scared on hedgehogs, he’d reached under his Gran’s shed to grab something and ended up with a hedgehog. My cousin is scared of stairs after falling down them as a child. 

Balloons came up, my friend Sarah can’t stand the thought of them popping unexpectedly. 

I was told by one woman that seatbelts set her on edge:

“The feel of them makes me want to rip my teeth out. I struggle to touch them, if I do, I have to clench my teeth to stop myself from literally slapping myself 🙈 No idea where it stems from or when it started. My own seatbelt is covered up, so are the kids”. 

Insects were another common theme; spiders, slugs and worms….

“Mine is worms, I’d go as far as saying it is a phobia and I know its irrational but I get palpitations and the sweats etc, I’ve had nightmares the lot, I can’t walk on wet grass and won’t wear open toe shoes if it is raining either as that’s when they all come out, it’s a hindrance really as I’d love to do gardening and grow my own veg but I can’t because of the little suckers, its bizarre as I like snakes and I’m not afraid of anything else big or small. It annoys me how I am about them”.

And cattle grids and grates…

“Just been a fear since I was a child! I think I’m just scared of getting my feet stuck! 

There’s a running theme, most people have irrational fears that stem from something that happened from childhood – like me being shut in a cupboard with toy clown.

I’m able to stand next to clowns…

I can walk around haunted house set ups, it isn’t my favourite thing, it makes me feel hot and nervous, but I can do it.

It’s a weird thing fear, it holds so much power over us, can make us feel like a child again, knock us off our stride, give us palpitations and generally spark a violent physical reaction (some people have the same effect) but we probably have more control over our fears than we perhaps give ourselves credit for. We can rationalise them. 

At one point I’d have avoided anything remotely connected to clowns, and this is where we go wrong, avoidance doesn’t let us deal with a problem, it keeps us in the same mindset and doesn’t give us the opportunity to get our shit together. Let’s be honest, I couldn’t have spent the last week avoiding ALL the clown inspired scarecrows on my doorstep at some point fears have to be faced.

But is it the actual clown I’m scared of or the memories of being scared as a child or as a teenager living alone for the first time?

I’d say it is more than likely the latter, they aren’t feelings I’d willingly go out and chase, I’d quite like to be able to get through the rest of my life without another episode of sleep paralysis – that is far scarier than Tim Curry dressed as a clown will ever be.

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

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