You are doing the right thing by asking for help. The fact that you sent this letter, despite your fear, is a victory. You were frightened, but you sent it anyway. Generally speaking, this is precisely how one overcomes their fears.
You are not being ridiculous or melodramatic. You seem to have a phobia. Phobias are very real. If you could help yourself, you would have done so. You’re not doing this on purpose.
Phobias are irrational fears that can become more intense over time. Each time you encounter a frightful situation and retreat, you are inadvertently reinforcing your phobia. When a behavior is reinforced, it increases in the future.
For instance, if your child receives an A on his or her report card and you buy him or her a new toy, the toy should be reinforcing. Expect more A’s. If your child receives an F on his or her report card and you buy him or her a new toy, expect more F’s.
I would not recommend getting your family together to talk about this problem. You already know their stance.
I would recommend seeing a mental health professional. There are specific treatments designed for phobias that are highly effective. You might think making that call will be frightening but you will see that it is not. Therapists are there to help you and know how to make their clients feel comfortable and safe. In fact, making that call will probably make you feel a great deal of relief.
What you share in therapy is confidential. If you choose to tell your family about therapy (should you decide to go), you don’t have to tell them what you don’t want them to know. Your therapist can help you evaluate what would be appropriate to discuss with your family.
I hope that you will consult a therapist. Choose a therapist who specializes in phobias. If you find a competent therapist and stick with treatment, you can expect positive results. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle