May 10, 2023 8.00 pm This story is over 10 months old

Facing fears: The uncommon phobias of Lincolnshire residents

From mannequins and puffins to baked beans and pencils

While fears of spiders, heights and small spaces are relatively common, some Lincolnshire residents are plagued by much rarer phobias which leave them in fear of puffins, inflatables, pencils, baked beans, and mannequins.

What may seem harmless to one person could have a completely different impact on someone else, so we asked readers about their unusual or rare phobias.

Beth Freer, 24, said although she has one of the more common fears of spiders, she also has some “weird phobias”.

She said: “I have an irrational fear of masks and I don’t just mean Halloween masks. It could be a little girl wearing a fairy mask and I’d still run a mile crying.

“Another weird phobia I have is large plastic sheets like tarpaulins or swimming pool covers, to the point I won’t go swimming or to someone’s house if decorators are there.”

Beth Freer has several phobias.

Beth continued: “Another one is inflatables. Christmas time with people with big inflatable Santas and reindeers nearly kills me off every year.

“I’m terrified of statues and mannequins to the point me and my partner went to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life and all the way through I stared at the floor with my hands around my eyes crying whilst my partner walked me past the mannequins.

“And my last fear is people running towards me, especially if it’s starting to get dark or is dark.”

Beth added: “When I’m not in the moment of being near something I’m scared of, I find it hilarious and I explain that to people too… It must look weird to people, but if it was the other way round I’d find it weird too.

“Luckily apart from spiders, they’re all easily avoidable so they don’t really affect me – and if they have, I will sit after and laugh at myself for being scared of such stupid things.”

Susan Bradby has been afraid of puffins for a long time.

Susan Bradby, 68, says she has been afraid of puffins for “as long as I can remember” and also has a fear of spiders.

Susan, who lives in Tattershall Bridge, said: “It’s just looking at them, the face, the beak… I feel sick just talking about it now.

“I’ve just never liked them and I don’t go anywhere near them.

“Even if they are on the television I can’t watch. I have to leave the room or turn it off.”

If Susan ever does encounter a puffin she says she feels “sick, frozen, and it’s like a panic attack.” She says she has no problem with any other types of birds though.

She added: “People just laugh and think it’s funny. It does bother me as a lot of people have different phobias and mine just happens to be spiders and puffins, but I can stand on spiders, you can’t do that with puffins.”

Other readers shared their unusual fears.

Chessie, 32, said she has a phobia of pencils “because the sound of the lead breaking against paper makes me retch”.

Polystyrene is another trigger due to its “very forbidden texture”.

Diane Firth said: “I can’t have different coloured pegs on one item of clothing. I can’t mix and match different size pegs or different textures. It makes me feel physically sick and I’ve had it for 30 plus years.”

One reader said she has Ancraophobia, which is described as “an extreme fear of wind or drafts”.

Another woman said her fear is of baked beans.

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