By the middle of August every year, if you were to pay close attention, you would notice my personality take an odd turn. Up until then, I am lively and energetic. I'm often pushing a stroller, or walking a dog or wading through a pool. I look like I spend a lot of time outdoors. If you were to have a conversation with me you would feel like the most important person in the world.
But by mid August every year, I become quiet and distracted. You would rarely catch me outside. But if you did, you might think me bizarre. My hands begin to shake ever so slightly. I become tentative in my gait, often looking down at the sidewalk and then quickly looking straight ahead, sometimes taking strange sidesteps. If you were to stop and chat with me, you might feel insulted because I seemed preoccupied and uninterested.
I also begin reading voraciously - I know the library staff by name from August til November. My midsection is always a bit thicker. If you were scrutinizing my behaviour you would notice me doing peculiar things like picking up my dog's poop in the dark with a flashlight. And unless you knew and loved me you would surely think I was nutty or worse.
You see, the thing is, I am PETRIFIED of a common insect that is more common during the autumn. It changes my life, my routines and my personality for these few months. I can't remember a time when I didn't have to alter my lifestyle in the fall. My biggest fear is seeing one. If I know it is out there but never see it, I am fine. It is the actual sight of one, live or on television, in print or even animated that makes my heart race, knees buckle and palms sweat.
And I know that I must type it's dreaded name here. But I need to tell you that even the written word provokes a reaction in me. I had my husband google the name of this type of phobia just in case typing in the insect name could bring up pictures. But the list didn't include my phobia. The list even covered unheard of (to me anyway) things like the fear of chins, of the colour white and even the fear of dryness. But the fear of caterpillars I could not find. So there it is. My phobia.