Deciding to tell people about my phobia is always a tricky one. A laugh is always guaranteed and I realise that when I tell people that I have a phobia of bananas. It isn’t exactly a common phobia – but for me, it is a daily challenge.
According to my mother I was fine when I was a baby, eating mashed-up banana like every other kid. But now, even writing the word makes my stomach churn. I don’t know where it came from or how it started but seeing a banana in real life makes me extremely anxious, I hyperventilate and feel petrified. I know it seems daft – it’s only a piece of fruit – but for me it is more than that.
I know bananas can’t hurt me but for some reason I am full of fear whenever I see or smell them.
I actively manage my phobia by explaining to work colleagues and friends that I cannot be around bananas, and I plead with them to respectfully eat them away from me. I affectionately call any incidents I have a ‘Banana Drama’.
I was at a conference a few years back, with some colleagues who were aware of my phobia. I always ask colleagues or friends to test unknown cakes and desserts just in case there is banana inside. At the conference these lovely looking cakes were set out for everyone to enjoy. My colleague bit into it to show me there was no banana inside, so I comfortably took a bite.
As my teeth sank down into the sponge, they then hit banana. I knew instantly what it was. In a split second I spat it out, ran into the toilets crying and threw up. The next thing I remember is coming ‘round after fainting, my colleague having to unlock the toilet door to get me out.
I didn’t know how to stop crying or hyperventilating. It was horrible.
I can remember thinking it was ridiculous and that I was just being stupid – but I didn’t know how to deal with it. I just had to try to calm myself down. It took two hours of walking around outside to bring me back to a calm state.
Bananas scare me, I can’t explain it. The number of times I’ve had to get off a bus or a London Underground tube because someone has been eating a banana near me is countless. I don’t want to impose my phobia on strangers, so I control it by taking myself out of the situation. It doesn’t inhibit my health or my life and for that I am grateful. But it still impacts it to a point.
It’s almost as if someone inside takes over and I can’t control myself.
My mother always brings up the discussion about me facing my phobia and maybe getting treatment for it. But for me, right now, I don’t want to face it. I feel I am not ready and I don’t feel it is impacting my life enough that it needs to be faced. I can handle it and work around it.
I guess if it got to a point where it was significantly impacting my life I would face it. For example, if I ever had children I wouldn’t want them to be impacted by my phobia – I would want them to have bananas so, who knows, maybe that would be the moment I decided to face my phobia.
For now, it is a daily challenge and one that I handle.
I do warn everyone I know, and those who have experienced a ‘Banana Drama’ can regale with tales of me having a panic attack, fainting, throwing up, crying, screaming and in some cases nearly injuring those around me because of the quick jerk reaction I’ve when I am near one. I guess it can be a funny tale, and it’s something I can usually laugh about – but when a banana does appear, the colour disappears from my friends’ faces because they know what is about to happen!
Phobias aren’t something to be ashamed of, but my biggest challenge is knowing when to tell people. Do I tell them before they plonk a bunch of bananas on my desk? Or when I realise they are peeling one near me and have to excuse myself super sharpish so I don’t make a scene?
I wish I had a reason to explain to people where my phobia came from, but I don’t. I just handle it in the best way I can.