DEAR ABBY: I'm a 30-year-old female who has extreme hemophobia. I cannot see blood or hear people talk about anything blood-related. I pass out when my blood is drawn, and I cannot have a finger-prick blood test either. It's even difficult for me to write this message.
I work in an office and I have told my co-workers about my problem and asked them to please avoid the topic when I'm present. They think my request is unreasonable and that I'm just being silly. When someone brings up the subject, I quickly leave the room, sit down out of earshot and put my head between my legs. Then they laugh at me. When I mentioned this problem to my supervisor, he said he doesn't feel there is anything he can do about it because it's not a subject that is against company policy or taboo.
I'm just looking for some compassion and understanding from my co-workers. I don't want to have to find another job, but I can't keep running for cover every day, and I don't want to pass out and injure myself. How can I make them see that this is a real medical problem and I'm not just looking for attention? -- PASSING OUT IN MISSOURI
DEAR PASSING OUT: Unless you work in a doctor's office or a blood bank, I fail to see why the subject of blood would come up on a regular basis. Because your co-workers know how it affects you, I can only assume that they are either extremely thoughtless and insensitive, or do it intentionally to upset you or make you sick.
Raise the subject again with your supervisor. Explain that you don't want to look for another job and what they're doing is creating the opposite of a friendly work environment. If he still won't intervene, consider discussing your problem with a mental health professional who specializes in phobias, because there may be a therapy that can help to lessen or even eliminate your condition.