I seem to have developed a mild case of claustrophobia. I don’t know if things like claustrophobia happen all of a sudden or gradually over time, but if it is triggered by one event, I know what that was for me.
A couple weeks before we moved to Charlotte, we went to Epcot and rode Mission: Space. It is a test of whether or not you have what it takes to be an astronaut. We went for the “more-intense” option, because I am a big girl and can handle roller-coasters and intense situations. Or so I thought. On Mission: Space you are strapped in like you would be on a roller-coaster and then your little space pod closes around you. There are 4 people in a row in each pod. The screen you are looking at is about 6 inches in front of your face. It is a very small space. If you have ever been on Mission: Space you know what I am talking about. So the ride starts and it simulates a shuttle launch and then darting through an asteroid field and landing on Mars (or something like that.) My body did not appreciate the G-forces put on it during lift off. My heart started racing, I felt nauseous and sick, and then I starting thinking about what would happen if I did get sick. I wouldn’t be able to get out. I would have to wait till the ride finished. I couldn’t get out. I started to have a small freak-out. I stared at the joy-stick in front of me and concentrated on my breathing until the ride was over. Obviously, I am not cut out to be an astronaut.
I did not have any claustrophobia issues until we went with some friends to Carowinds amusement park for their Halloween event. We went on a few roller coasters and through some haunted houses. I did sit out one of the roller coasters because it shook a lot and I had just had my wisdom teeth out the week before. I didn’t want to risk any clots being jarred loose. We decided to go on the pirate ship thing that swings back and forth until eventually it flips all the way over. We sit down in our row, and they lower the lap bar. Mine is so low I can’t move. No wiggle room. Then the top shoulder bar lowers. It is also tight and pressing into my chest. I starting thinking about it. I can’t move. I have no elbow room. I can’t get out. I start panicking. I tell Stephen I need to get out. Now. The guy operating the ride comes by to check that everyone is properly smooshed into their seats and we tell him I need to get out. He wants to know why! I say it is too tight and I need to get out. He tries to ask what is too tight, like he will make it looser for me, when all I want is to get out altogether. I say everything is too tight, I need to get out now. Our friends chime in, saying, “Just let her out! She says she needs to get out, just do it!” He goes to the booth and tells everyone to watch their heads and arms because he has to raise the shoulder bars. He sounds kind of annoyed, but I didn’t care, I had to get out. I made a mental note to avoid rides like that in the future.
I’m sure there are varying degrees of claustrophobia. I’m ok if I’m in a small space and I know I can get out anytime I want. Like I could crawl into one of our kitchen cabinets and be fine. Riding in the back of my dad’s two-door Mustang cuts it close. Being on a ride where I have no control over when I get out, apparently not ok anymore.