The world can be a scary place. That's why there's a phobia for everything — peanut butter getting stuck to the roof of your mouth, the number 13, falling asleep (yes, really). One of the unique ocean-themed phobias (of which there are a lot, because people can't wrap their minds around sharks not being that deadly), is submechanophobia, the fear of partially or fully submerged manmade objects.
For example, if shipwrecks terrify you, you might have submechanophobia.
It's an understandable fear, even if it may not be rational to fear an inanimate object. Manmade objects that are underwater are not only eerie-looking and changed by the water around them, but they're proof that something went wrong in a situation, because they don't belong there.
Being shipwrecked is something to fear, and, for some people, even just seeing an underwater ship triggers a sense of panic.
But, it's not just sunken ships that get to people with this fear. Chloe Dolores wrote about having this phobia for the travel site DivePrice and explained that even small objects like "pieces of rope or trash," can trigger her. She doesn't have to see the object IRL to be affected either.
"Even photographs of pieces of metal under water can cause anxiety," she wrote.
She's not the only one to document her phobia online. Meredith Bryan wrote for Elle magazine about her intense struggle with submechanophobia — and her desire to overcome it. Bryan's most specific fear was of buoys, though she wrote that anchor lines, boat motors and even pool cleaners could upset her.
The fear of underwater manmade objects isn't as widely recognized as thalassophobia, which is just a general fear of the ocean. But, it also plays hand in hand with other phobias like megalohydrothalassophobia (fear of large objects underwater).
According to mental health site VeryWellMind, it can also be coupled with fear of the unknown, as well as germs, ships and hazards.
Bryan believes her fear is pinpointed on submerged objects only. "I'm not really scared of the ocean, or of drowning. I am an excellent swimmer, thank you," she writes.
"I'm not afraid of sea creatures, either: I'd happily swim with a whale if that didn't require jumping off a boat, which would inevitably drop an anchor line (my stomach flipped as I typed that). It's not even the slimy algae congealing on the underside of a buoy. It's the thing itself, the whole harmless assemblage of steel and rubber."
Both Bryan and Dolores wrote about trying to deal with this fear. Bryan subjected herself to a virtual reality dip into the sea.
Oh, and lots of photos of submerged items.
There's even a whole subreddit of submechanophobia images.
Dolores goes diving and has tips for fellow sufferers:
"When you see a picture of a shipwreck, try to relax and look at the photo until your anxiety subsides. If you come across a piece of concrete, or metal, or rope under the water, try going a little closer to it than you're comfortable with. Don't push yourself to the point of a panic attack, but challenge yourself a little bit because you may find that it's not as bad as you thought."
And, if you're not afraid of underwater objects and simply find them fascinating, well, you can do all those same things too. It works both ways, which is likely why the subreddit is so popular. It's a place for eager onlookers and terrified-but-brave people to come together and marvel at what the ocean can do to an every day object.