The suffering of a Thalassophile

It is pretty hard when you love something too much but are also scared of it. There are a lot of things that I am scared of- falling out of love, heights, frogs, fishes. But, fishes rank high of them all.

There is something about their eyes, that makes me cringe. Living or dead, fishes send shivers down my spine. There have been many instances where I have avoided going to a co-worker’s desk or a part of my own house because of the aquarium that was set up there. While most of my friends fantasize and appreciate the beauty of fishes, all that I can see is their slimy, translucent body with bulging void eyes. Their eyes throw a malevolent glare that sends a soul chattering chill across my entire body. I was not born this way, I vaguely remember taking tours with my father to the fish store and setting up my first aquarium. I was never a fish lover, but I also did not hate them. That said, I am still trying to juggle my memory to find out the incident that stems my fear of fishes. Hard luck!


Being an Ichthyphobic (fear of fishes) is difficult, especially when you love the seas. There is something so beautiful about water. They have a rhythmic pulse that is unmatched by any other form of nature. The palpitating sound of it’s slight movements is what peace sounds like. The water brushes you and tosses you around in all directions as if to say, there is more to this world than just you. I can go on and on about my relationship with the sea (or any water body). But, there is always this one thing that stops me from getting into them or staying in there for as long as I want – Fishes.

A few days back, I went on this amazing trip to Thailand, this place has some of the most amazing beaches I have been to. The water was like velvet, like the one that you only see in paintings. There was this beautiful island, where you could snorkel and take a look at all the wonderful things that the sea has raised. There are so many things that I have missed because of my fear of fishes in the past. So many beautiful seas, lakes, and streams that I had jumped out of because I spotted a fish. I did not want this to be one among them.

I waited for everybody in the boat to get into the water. After about 5 minutes of conversation with my guide, telling her about my fear and getting all the advice I need, I jumped into the water. It was about 20 feet deep. Wearing those goggles I looked down, it was the most beautiful thing that I have seen. The water was crystal clear. Deep inside, there were corals of all colors. Even before my brain could process all the beautiful things that I saw, a pool of fishes swam really close to me. What would have been a wonderful sight for others made me feel claustrophobic. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe, fear started crawling in. I started kicking my legs and ended up swallowing a lot of saltwater. I swam to the boat as soon as I could. I was shaking in fear and my heart was beating as fast as it could, so much that it would explode. The palpitation remains, even as I write this now imagining the scene. It might sound silly for most of you. It is just a beautiful harmless fish, most of you might say. To me, it isn’t.

But, I also did not want to sit there, the corals were calling me, I was so beautiful that I wanted to take another look at it. So, after convincing myself, I took a deep breath and went into the water once again. It was still scary, I still felt claustrophobic but I did not go back to the boat. I stayed there in the water for about an hour. Looking at the corals and looking up at the sky for air when I spotted a fish. I moved to a spot that was considerably less populated with fishes.


It was scary. But, had I not done that I would have regretted my decision. This incident hasn’t changed the way I feel about fishes. But, there is something that I learned. Life sometimes will give you a choice, and what you love will be on the other end of the fear. It is up to you to move forward or take a back seat. The fears that you do not face becomes your limits. And, the limits that you set becomes the person you live in. You need to choose who you want to be.

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