Beam me up

December 15, 2019

For as long as I can remember, I have been absolutely terrified of elevators

I’ll let you in on a little secret today. It doesn’t come easy to me, but I reckon it’s about time. In itself, fear is something one would be hard-pressed not to come across. Some of us are plagued with fears of monsters in their closets, of heights, or even of our neighbour’s mundane pet animals, but I live in terror of another kind.

I’ve managed to live with it for over a few decades now, and in all honesty, that fact does not give rise to a particularly warm feeling – it is quite an annoyance, rather.

For as long as I can remember, I have been absolutely terrified of elevators. The reason for this has remained shrouded in mystery. It is quite possible that I might never be able to fully cure myself of it. It is a fear that has made an absurdly steadfast home in my psyche.

People close to me are quite aware of the near-comical extent to which this fear has impacted my sanity — to the point that they know that as much as a mere mention of the word ‘elevator’ or ‘lift’ is enough to trigger a reaction from me. On the bright side, they attempt to at least acknowledge the conundrum I face upon entering any building that has more than a couple of floors. Not the best place to be, I tell you.

Let me try to explain what I go through every time I enter that little cubicle from hell. Apart from the obvious goosebumps and palpitations, there is a flood of inexplicable anxiety that unleashes itself upon me. Will I ever reach my destination? Will the elevator get stuck? Will anyone come to my rescue if it gets stuck? Will I suffocate without anyone ever knowing that I was in here? Will I be able to call anyone? What if the signals don’t work? What if the phone gets stuck? What if there’s a power breakdown? What if the world ends while I’m still stuck in here? My mind has developed this marvellous ability to think of the absolute worst that can happen, and that too in just under a minute or so.

Anyway, those few minutes trapped in a metal box (especially ones without mirrors – those are the worst) are enough to induce an existential crisis that I’d rather not endure on a daily basis.

This phobia of lifts has haunted me eversince I was a child. Although it is said that such seemingly “baseless” fears usually do have a basis in one’s childhood, I cannot think of any particular incident that might have been a trigger. What I do remember is that I have avoided these terror-inducing contraptions for as much of my life as I possibly could, until I couldn’t.

My current work place is located on the fourth floor of the building. Although it’s not exactly the Eiffel Tower, it does get a little tricky for me to climb those many stairs without losing my breath – that too on a daily basis. Despite that, I made a valiant effort to completely avoid the elevator for the first few months. However, I won’t deny it, the idea of braving it would cross my mind every now and then.

A few months later, having mustered a lot of courage, I decided to give it a go. The prospect of being able to avoid the ghastly staircase was a little too tempting to not pay heed to, and, ultimately, I gave in…

It was not easy, and it still isn’t. But somehow the convenience of an elevator trumps the magnitude of my fears.

It has taken some time for me to come to terms with this fear, irrational as it may be; to realise that no matter how ridiculous it may seem to the world, it is okay to feel this way.

Even today as I scurry inside an elevator and push the ‘close door’ button, there is a tiny moment of uncertainty in which I nervously wonder whether I should go on or step out.

But then the doors close, the lift begins to move, and another eventful day draws to an end.

So what about tomorrow? Well, let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, the danger is behind us.

Fear of elevators: Beam me up