Baker student discusses extreme fear of ticks

Story by Dory Smith, Multimedia Editor

Sometimes she can feel it on her arm, leg, back, neck and hair. She wants to dig a hole into her arm, trying to scratch it away, but it’s not really there.

Junior Caylea Syler experiences anxiety when she thinks about a tiny parasite like a tick.

“I try not to talk about them or encounter them because it’s awful when that happens,” she said.

The actual feeling of an arachnid crawling on your skin can be eerie for many people, but Syler automatically assumes the worst will happen if she does come into contact with a tick.

“You don’t notice them and they suck all your blood and you die or get a disease,” she said. “Something bad can happen.”

Syler admits to having extreme anxiety attacks that typically bring her to tears.

“It’s like getting upset and you can’t stop crying. I could start crying right now just thinking about them,” Syler said. “I get hysterical, and because I’m crying so hard I have trouble breathing.”

Those who suffer from phobias typically don’t think realistically, and they create worse scenarios and issues for themselves. During her anxiety attacks, Syler eventually adjusts her way of thinking and is able to calm herself down.

“Halfway through I’ll realize that everything is going to be OK,” she said. “But my immediate response is to freak out so I have to get some air and figure it all out.”

Syler doesn’t have her phobia of ticks completely solved, but the best advice she could give is to find a comfort zone when the anxiety gets hard to handle.

“There’s nothing I can do about the fact that ticks upset me,” she said. “But it’s good to find something that grounds you and makes you feel less anxious.”