7 Slightly Surprising Things You Didn’t Know You Were Afraid Of

Your new worst nightmares.



Ever done something so embarrassing you wished the ground would open up and swallow you? Well, the good news is you don't have to experience any embarrassment and can skip straight to the ground-swallowing fun. The bad news: You have no control over this earth-devouring nightmare.

Sinkholes typically form when rain falls on to an area of land where it has nowhere to drain but into the subsurface. The water slowly erodes the surface below the non-porous ground, causing a hole to develop under the solid land. When the solid land above eventually collapses, the hole that's been sitting there is exposed and whatever was lying on top of it collapses inside.

Most sinkholes form so slowly you can hardly notice them as the ground above caves in alongside the eroding surface below…then there's the other kind. The kind you hear about on the news. The big fuck-off kind that swallows cars, houses, and people. This type of sinkhole slowly develops unnoticed underground, deeper and deeper while the visible ground above remains undisturbed. Here's hoping there's no 75-foot-deep cavern sitting below the ground you're currently resting on.

STR / AFP / Getty Images

The gympie-gympie

The gympie-gympie

Plants are completely harmless, right? Sure, there are species that can cause you mild discomfort or pain, and eating some varieties is a definite no-no, but as long as you keep your mouth closed, you're pretty much safe from any real harm. Wrong. Meet the gympie-gympie, the plant that can make people vomit in pain, simply from touch. Nicknamed « the suicide plant » and native to – you guessed it – Australia, this is one piece of vegetation you don't want to encounter in a dark alley.

Scientist and gympie-gympie victim Dr Marina Hurley described the pain as feeling like « being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time ». Nice. At least the pain doesn't last for too long, I guess – oh wait, it last for AGES. Ernie Rider, another person terrorised by the plant, said the pain lasted for TWO YEARS and recurred every time he took a shower.

Australia: where even the plants will fuck you up.


Fatal familial insomnia

Fatal familial insomnia

Ever had one of those nights where you just couldn't get to sleep? The kind of night where you spend hours staring at the clock, counting down the remaining hours you have left to sleep before needing to wake up the next morning. Maybe in your desperation you resorted to the age-old method of counting sheep, but even that let you down. No matter what you tried, sleep continued to elude you. It was hell. Prepare to feel embarrassment for your own self-pity, because things could be much, much worse.

Say hello to your new worst nightmare, kind of: fatal familial insomnia. Caused by a genetic mutation, this eventual killer is a rare progressive neurodegenerative disorder that usually shows no sign until the person reaches their forties, at which point the first symptoms kick in. First the insomnia starts, with increasing brutality; then come the hallucinations, complete with panic attacks; eventually sleep becomes impossible and the victim starts to rapidly lose weight; and finally, the patient becomes mute and unresponsive. Death follows.

Fpg / Getty Images

Spring-loaded folded beds

Spring-loaded folded beds

Here's the scene: You're lying in bed, and after a couple of minutes of tossing and turning you finally find that resting position in which you're perfectly comfortable. You close your eyes and feel the sweet tranquillity of sleep begin to envelop your body. Just as you drift off you're awoken by a sudden jolt. You can feel your body contorted in a strange position but you can't move it. You open your eyes, only to be met by darkness. After the panic dies down you come to the realisation that the folded bed you were sleeping on is the culprit of your painful predicament. « No worries, I can easily get out of this, » you think to yourself. It takes a couple of hours of fruitless effort for you to come to terms with your fate. You're trapped until someone finds you.

This scenario, which feels like a scene from a Final Destination movie, is probably more common than you'd think. A 73-year-old from Malaga, Spain, suffered a similar fate when her foldaway bed sprung up, trapping her between the bed and the wall. Sudden deaths are a thing too. A suit alleges that a man from Staten Island, New York, died instantly when a fold-up bed unexpectedly sprung up, snapping his spine in the process.

Why is it the ones we love that end up hurting us most?

Twitter: @joemols

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