There are people who, when they look up a condominium from the outside, can’t help but mumble: what if that building just starts collapsing just like in the movies? How can anyone live hundreds of feet from the ground?
High-rise condos have the reputation of being not too friendly with people suffering from an extreme case of acrophobia or fear of heights, one of the most common phobias known to man. After all, how do you expect such people to enjoy the view from the balcony?
Acrophobics, depending on the level of fear, have an enhanced natural fear of falling. When they are in high places, they feel anxious and experience rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, and even nausea. But with the right coping skills to manage fear, acrophobia can be defeated. Gradual exposure to the phobia can also help sufferers overcome the irrational fear.
We listed down things that only people with acrophobia understand, and how to overcome the fear of living in condominiums.
“I can’t feel my legs.” or “My heart is racing.”
People who have fear of heights often feel like they are losing control of their legs. They feel like they are going to fall off the edge any moment. It is also common for them to feel like their hearts are throbbing against their chests. These are all normal physical symptoms of acrophobia.
Experts say one of the effective ways to treat the phobia is to learn how to control these physical symptoms. Take slow, deep breaths to slow your heart rate. Try to curl your toes and move your feet. Exposing yourself to slightly fearful situations such as climbing the stairs, looking out the skyline from your window or braving the balcony could help.
“I’m going to fall off and die.”
Sometimes, living in a high-rise condo like Brixton Place, One Serendra or Wind Residences can make someone imagine that the building will collapse beneath her. She can also imagine that she will fall off the rails of the balcony. These images or negative thoughts are commonly associated with people suffering from acrophobia. In this case, the cognitive and behavioral aspects are being tested.
To replace these negative images with positive ones, spend time looking at pictures taken from a great a height. Ask a friend to take a photo of the ground from your balcony so you can look at them. When looking down, focus on something nice. Practice mental visualization.
“I look weird.”
People with acrophobia think that they look weird and funny when reacting to acrophobic situations. When walking down the hallway of the condominium where you can see the ground floor, you always try to veer away from the rails. When stairs have spaces between them, you hold on to the rail and to dear life. But you shouldn’t feel weird or think of yourself as a weirdo. Your fear is not unique. The fear is all in your mind, so go ahead and try acting normal.
“Top floors are not safe.”
It is easy to understand why people with an irrational fear of heights discredit skyscrapers and say that other vertical developments are not safe. If you tell them to live on the top floor of a high-rise condo, they naturally think that doing so would be suicidal.
That is, of course, an unfounded assumption. And such assumptions should be challenged with facts. Research on the credibility and record of the developer. Educate yourself with building materials and integrity of the structures, especially skyscrapers. It also helps to always remind yourself that in many cases, “taller is safer” in times of earthquakes. It is safe from falling debris and is designed for seismic motion.
“Kids are laughing at me.”
Some kids are painfully honest about what they think of other people. People with mild or extreme of acrophobia will get laughed at if they can’t even pull themselves together as they walk out of the balcony. But don’t dwell on that too much. If you think explaining such a condition to young children is just going be a waste of time, then don’t. But pleasure them with humor and laugh it out too. Laugh with them, and laugh at your fear, as if saying you refuse to be controlled by it. Laughter can relax you and is really useful in tensed situations. For all you know, humor can beat any kind of fear.
“Friends think I’m no fun.”
People with acrophobia refuse to do a lot of things. They don’t like taking the stairs, riding roller coasters, riding airplanes, and doing extreme sports. If your condominium has a landscaped roof deck or has a pool, you wouldn’t even go there, not even when there’s a party happening. And so you think people see you as a party pooper.
Not just for the purpose of changing people’s impression of you, conquering your fear will also improve your coping skills. Experts say that one of the most effective ways to deal with the condition is through exposure. Graded exposure, or slowly exposing yourself to situations and structures, is a good way to start. Climbing ladders, taking a few steps closer to the edge of the balcony, and going to the roof deck of your condo building are small steps that can have a big impact.
Flooding is another method to desensitize yourself of the fear. It is a more extreme case of exposure, and runs on the theory that while phobia is very intense, it is also very fleeting and wears off instantly. So you can try to dive off a cliff or try paragliding. Whichever path you choose, remember that avoidance will not help you manage your fear.
Living in a high-rise condo is a good way to develop your coping skills. While the idea may not sound appealing, it can be very helpful. Do not let your fear get the better of you because it is totally within your control.
JJ More is a medical writer. He has a blog that covers topics on medicine and even writing. He has been writing articles advising readers about the latest technological advances in the fields of medicine.