I'm reading a book. It's almost eleven at night and I should be sleeping, but I'm not. Why? Because my sheets are drying. I have new sheets and I used them before washing them, which probably just made some of you cringe physically. But, at the time I needed to change my sheets, and I didn't have time to wash. So, I just accepted that they were clean because they were new and I went with it.
Putting the new sheets back onto my bed, I saw that the seam in the top fold was terribly loose. The needle holes were so big I could see through them. Now, I just physically cringed. All the way across the top I could see through the holes where the thread passed through and I'm no longer confident that I will be able to use these sheets after all. As I look closer, I realize that it is intentional – a sort of decorative feature. The tiny holes are finished almost as much as a buttonhole would be. That makes it somewhat better.
I have what is known as trypophobia. What is that, you ask? Is it an automatic revulsion to seeing typos published? That's what I initially thought. But, if you did think that, you were wrong. I would encourage you to search the internet for the word. You'll surely find more illustrations than you could ever want to see. Frankly, one is more than any human would probably want to see. My problem was that, like a terrible car accident, I couldn't look away.
Trypophobia is an irrational aversion to repeated patterns, particularly those found in nature. Yes, being boring and slightly hypochondriacal is no longer just for the well-to-do. For example, I haven't checked the mail in ten years. I don't know if there is a name for this or not. I've read other people's accounts of the affliction, and it generally ties back to a traumatic event. At one point, when I lived alone, the post office apparently decided that I had moved without leaving a forwarding address and began returning all mail back to the sender. It used to be that only people who didn't have to work 16 hours a day (or to put it another way, those who didn't have to work for a living) could have the luxury of such an irrational problem. Now, look at me. I'm right up there with them.
And, with trypophobia, leisure is mostly what started it in the first place. I don't know that it ever raised its ugly head before a product called Photoshop hit the market, and even then the product had to saturate the market to the extent that people with time on their hands could learn how to use it. (Or, people who knew how to use it had time on their hands? Not sure which.) Photoshop is a software that allows people to emulate an actual photography lab. You can tweak the exposure of an image, play with contrast, and then when you're really bored you can merge a lovely lotus pod with somebody's elbow making it look like that person has a horrific disease. And, why wouldn't somebody do that?
Once you've seen enough images like that – lotuses, natural sponges, other random textures merged into human skin – any sort of texture or pattern becomes slightly repulsive. Maybe I'll recant my earlier encouragement to search the internet for this mental plague. You probably have better things to do with your time, and you don't need to spend the next thirty years of your life wincing at the sight of a lovely flower pod. Having this phobia is not all it's cracked up to be.