Being claustrophobic is no fun. Getting stuck in a literal tight situation could be the difference between absolute calm and absolute panic attack. While my mother has found ways to combat her claustrophobia, going out of her way to avoid situations in which she feels closed in, I remain a glutton for punishment. I often end up finding myself in some of the following terrifying claustrophobic situations:
1. We Hate Crowded Elevators
The day I was moving into my apartment with my wife, we got stuck in the service elevator with a custodian and a huge bucket of garbage. For a half hour. In the dead of summer! Not exactly the way we wanted to start our life together, but at least we have a story to tell. I just know when the doors finally opened, I literally jumped out and just sat on the ground for a few minutes in order to regain my composure. I know it was a fluke, and I have no problem using elevators now, but if if there’s more than one or two people already on, I just wait for the next one. If I’m going to freak out, I’d rather be alone – there’s more jumping room.
2. We Hate Concerts
Don’t get me wrong, I love going to concerts and shows, but standing room only is absolute torture. You only have one of two options: Stand in the middle of the crowd, or stand pressed up against the wall. Either way, you better like the decision you made, because chances are you’re going to be stuck there for the remainder of the night. With hundreds of other people jumping, dancing, and sweating all over you, it’s almost impossible to actually enjoy the band you came to see. If I’m going to a concert, I’ll gladly pay the extra fee to sit and enjoy myself.
3. We Hate Bars
In my college days, my friends would often drag me out for a night on the town, much to my chagrin. Again, I loved being out with my friends, but they seemed to actually like being stuck in a huge crowd full of drunken idiots, not being able to understand a word we said to each other. I definitely do not miss those days. Since you’re at a bar, you want to be able to have a drink. At a crowded college bar, that means weaving through the crowd, being pressed up against the bar, shouting for the bartender’s attention, then weaving your way back to the group without spilling the beverage you just spent six bucks on. If I could go back to those days, I would have just gone home early.
4. We Hate Crowds in General
This is a no brainer, but claustrophobic people hate crowds. This includes any place where you have to wait in line alongside more than two or three people. Even on line at the supermarket, once you get locked in from behind, you’re going to feel the walls closing in. That said, nothing compares to the herd mentality at concerts or ball games, in which people bunch up outside the gates, and then funnel in with little disregard for those around them. My thought process in these situations is: If I don’t wait until the crowd dies down, I’ll have to spend five minutes “on the inside” recuperating. If I wait five minutes now, I’ll get inside and be able to move quickly.
5. We Hate Haunted Houses and Fun Houses
Honestly, I really don’t mind haunted houses. I expect to be scared, shocked, and thrilled, so I somehow am able to let my claustrophobia go in October. Wait. Now that I think about it, the last time I was in a corn maze was an absolute nightmare. Sure, you have the flag thing to help people find you if you get stuck, but in the heat of the moment, getting lost in a corn maze makes you feel like the walls are getting closer and closer together. After your first few wrong turns, panic sets in, and you start to wonder how long it’ll take to find the exit. Maybe instead of a flag, they could give claustrophobic people hedge clippers.
6. We Hate Subways or Trains
As long as I can find a seat, I love riding the train into the city for a day of exploration. However, when that train is crowded, it’s thirty minutes of absolute anxiety. I’ve already went over how awful it is to be pressed up against other people in a crowd, but the situation is much worse when you’re in a moving vehicle. There are so many things that could go wrong here: a sudden stop could leave you splayed out across the lap of three strangers, or an elongated stop could leave you squished in a crowd for an indeterminate amount of time. I don’t even want to think of anything worse. When faced with a crowded train, it’s best to find a pole and grab on for dear life.
7. We Hate Tunnels
This is another situation which I actually secretly love for some reason. I know other people who suffer from claustrophobia hate them. Going through tunnels can be incredibly nerve wracking. The thought of being either underwater or under a mountain can lead to so many other thoughts of the horrible possibilities that could occur in the minute or two you spend inside the tunnel. I won’t list those possibilities here, but if you suffer from claustrophobia, I’m sure you’ve thought of them before. Just remember the next time you’re charged an $8 toll, your money is going toward safeguarding you and everyone else from these possibilities!
8. We Hate Getting Stuck On A Ride
Earlier, I spoke about how getting stuck on a train is torture, with one of the main contributing factors being the fact that you have no idea how long you’ll be stuck. Now, imagine this happening 50-100 feet in the air in a Ferris wheel gondola or a roller coaster cart. Actually, don’t imagine that. I don’t even want to think about it, but I guess I have to for the sake of this article. This is one of those moments where I think the best advice is simply this: Don’t move. Have faith that the ride technicians will be working hard to get the ride moving again, and be patient. Perhaps most importantly: Don’t look down!
9. We Hate Sitting in the Middle Seat
Okay, let’s lighten it up a bit after the last few harrowing situations. Sitting in the middle seat, especially as an adult, is incredibly uncomfortable. You have no place to put your arms, and you’re basically at the mercy of the two passengers flanking you. Unfortunately, in such a situation, the best thing to do is simply fold your hands in your lap, look straight forward, and pray the driver hits every green light on the way to your destination.
10. We Hate Porta Potties
I don’t think anyone really enjoys being in a porta potty, but these are an absolute nightmare for claustrophobic people. I don’t even know if I can talk about this one. It’s pretty obvious why these are hell on earth, especially on a hot summer day. When possible, avoid having to use these at all costs. If you absolutely have to – hold your breath and hover!
Featured photo credit: Sad woman sitting alone on the windowsill via shutterstock.com