A woman who was afraid of garlands and said just seeing them made her vomit has told how she overcame her worst fears.
Hannah Slater, 26, says she had trouble breathing and felt bad about throwing up at the festive decoration
She suffered from her extreme phobia for 20 years and it reached the point where she could no longer do Christmas shopping for fear of seeing tinsel and would no longer be invited to Christmas parties.
But this year, not to let her boyfriend down for another year, Hannah was determined to confront her phobia with professional help – and successfully overcame it.
She told the Mirror: ‘The fear just gets worse every year. My heart races, my breathing becomes difficult and my stomach hurts just thinking about the garlands touching my skin.
“It’s gotten to the point where I’ll dread Christmas Day every year.
“I feel bad because my boyfriend is the most festive man I’ve ever met – he’s practically Buddy the elf – but I refuse to decorate the house and there’s no way I’m go to Winter Wonderland with him one day.
MORE: Royals celebrate Christmas at Sandringham for first time since Queen’s death
MORE: Mum’s desperate Christmas plea to find daughter who’s been missing for 20 days
“My family and friends no longer buy me presents and I am no longer invited to work for the Christmas holidays after refusing to participate in Christmas sweater day”.
Hannah first developed a fear of garlands after a ‘tinsel incident’ caused her to vomit on her family’s Christmas presents when she was six years old.
Her cousins were at her house on Christmas Day and decided to wrap her in garlands for fun.
“I don’t know what happened but I went into total panic mode when they started wrapping it around my head.
“I hated the scratchy feeling against my skin and the loud noise of the sheet scared me.
“I didn’t want to spoil the game so I was quiet at first but when they enveloped my whole body and I couldn’t move I started screaming.
“My mum had to come and unwrap me and I was so upset I threw up on the gifts under the tree.”
After the incident, Hannah’s phobia became so debilitating that garlands were banned in her family home – and after years of being dubbed a ‘real life Grinch’ by friends and family, she had to move on. on Christmas Day alone for five consecutive years.
“I can’t even be in the same room with fairy lights without feeling the urge to run,” Hannah continued.
“I know it’s irrational and a lot of people think it’s silly, but that doesn’t stop it from feeling real to me.
“Every year since I was a kid I’ve felt like Christmas less and less. I don’t put up decorations, I don’t eat Christmas dinner and I hate Christmas music – Christmas is basically banned in my house .
“Usually my boyfriend comes home to spend Christmas Day with his family while I stay home and watch TV.”
But this year, knowing how important the season is to her boyfriend, Hannah wanted to try to change things up.
She wanted to surprise him by facing her fear head on and turned to therapist Christopher Paul Jones for help.
Speaking after her therapy sessions, Hannah explained: ‘I was desperate to enjoy a Christmas with my boyfriend without everyone having to hide the decorations.
“I went from shaking to laughing at the thought and it made me see my phobia in a new light.”
Hannah now wants to make up for lost time by having the “most festive Christmas yet”.
“I realized I was diverting my feelings about the event, blaming Garlands instead of my cousins for being irresponsible – once I had that realization it was easy to see at the garlands as safe again,” she added.
‘I feel free now. I have already done Christmas shopping and on Christmas day I am going to surprise my boyfriend and tell him that I am going with him for a real party.
“I want to decorate my house with garlands every year now – I even put some in my bedroom”.
Contact our press team by emailing us at email@example.com.
For more stories like this, check out our news page.