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Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm a recovering Scoleciphobic.....

Scoleciphobia is the fear of worms and it seems damned unfair that someone destined to become a gardener should be born with or have developed this affliction! It's true..... from as early as I can remember the sight of a worm has caused all sorts of reactions like trembling and panic attacks. I used to hate having to walk to school when it was raining and the pavements were covered with worms. You can imagine the hilarity this generated amongst my friends and, especially, my older brother who chased me round the garden one day threatening to put a poor worm down my blouse! I took refuge in the bathroom and stayed behind the locked door for almost an hour.

You'd have thought my father would have known better...... I used to spend most days in the garden with my dad from being a toddler. I have a vivid memory of me happily playing with some mud and a bucket and spade when, in amazement, dad turned round, "Look at the size of this!" Of course, he was chortling with laughter as he held a monster of a worm about six inches from my face. I ran in the house screaming and mum gave dad the riot act.

"Ye'll make her ill, ya stupit buggar!" (mum's from Glasgow)

I grew up loving being outdoors and cultivating the little plot that my parents allowed me to have all to myself, but many gardening activities were halted when confronted by an innocent worm. When I think about it now, it's incredible how I've continued to enjoy gardening and how I didn't give it up altogether at an early age. In fact, it's downright puzzling. For a scoleciphobic, I'd have thought the natural route to take was avoidance.

Anyway, thank goodness I didn't shun my life in the garden, along with all the earthworms I would encounter throughout my life. In fact, slowly...... very slowly, I have come to accept their presence. I can look at one without running indoors. I can even hold one, as long as it's not too big! I suppose I have controlled the phobia myself by exposure therapy, but it took an awfully long time.

I even rescued one a few years ago from being run over on the road. I was taking my daughter to school and on the path was one of the biggest worms I'd ever seen. No way could I pick that one up, but it was heading towards the busy main road! I waved daughter off at the school gate, hurried home and returned with a trowel and carrier bag. I didn't dare look to see if anyone was watching or I would have chickened out with embarrassment. After scooping it into the carrier bag, I carried it home and put it into the safety of the compost bin.

Having my phobia under control is wonderful because I have begun to enjoy seeing the worms while gardening and welcoming their presence. There's nothing stopping me now..... my next step is...... a wormery!


  1. How sweet that you made a return trip specifically to rescue a WORM in the road! I've rescued turtles, but never worms!

  2. Lol ethelmae, it was such a BIG worm though and I reckoned to have got to that size it must have lived a good few years. I couldn't bear the thought of it losing it's life after surviving for so long. :)

  3. I also pick up any worms I find on the pavements or in the road ,this is more common after heavy rain, I just place them on the nearest soil that comes to hand.

  4. I knew there was something about you that I liked David! :D