The height of irrationality - facing your fears

Aasma Day

Aasma Day

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What goes up must come down... unless you’re scared of heights that is.

Isaac Newton may have discovered gravity when an apple fell on his head but he didn’t make allowances for those whose legs turn to jelly when they’re a bit higher up in the world than they want to be.

A friend who seems brave in many other ways and is always taking part in crazy fitness challenges recently revealed he has an irrational fear of heights.

He admitted he was too scared to stand on the top of a step-ladder but at the ripe old age of 40, decided he wanted to face his fears by climbing up a big long ladder to prove to himself his fear was all in his head.

Personally, I think he’s being a bit too hard on himself as he’s far from alone when it comes to being terrified of heights.

As far as phobias goes, it’s a pretty normal one.

Acrophobia is the proper name for a fear of heights – and no it’s nothing to do with spiders, that’s arachnophobia.

Apparently as we grow older, our head for heights gets worse and many people find a heights phobia either starts or worsens later in life.

When it comes to heights, I’m a bit of an anomaly.

I’m a real adrenaline junkie and absolutely love rollercoasters and white knuckle rides.

Hurtling down from a great height in a ride sends a delicious feeling of terror rippling through me.

That was until an optician spoiled my fun a few years ago by telling me I really shouldn’t be going on rollercoasters with my high level of short-sightedness due to the risk of a detached retina.

But ask me to climb up a ladder or to high up vantage point and I’ll suddenly get the jitters and completely freeze when it comes to coming back down.

My earliest recollection of this pickle came when I was at secondary school and we had a school photo in the field using one of those big stand things.

When I was told to climb to the top row of the stand, I obediently clambered up... but getting back down was a different matter.

When the photoshoot was over and everyone else had trotted back to lessons, I stood petrified at the top too nervous to take the faltering steps down.

In the end they had to send the caretaker up to lead me back down which was a tad embarrassing.

Then a few years after we got married, Hubby broke his foot and I suddenly found myself having to do many tasks he usually did.

But none of the extra jobs were too bothersome – until he asked me to go up into our loft as we needed our passports.

Our loft had a step-ladder attached to it and Hubby managed to persuade me to climb up and into the loft.

The problem was I was too weak-kneed to come back down.

I sat in the loft wailing: “I can’t do it!” and feared I might have to stop in there forever.

In the end, Hubby took pity on me and clambered as far up the ladder as he could with a big plaster cast to haul me back down.

My excuse is that when you’re short, heights are even more daunting as it’s an even longer climb down with little legs!