You must Brie joking! Meet the woman who can’t look at cheese without crying
Melissa North is so terrified of the dairy product that she can’t go anywhere near the cheese counter in supermarkets in case she bursts into tears.
Even looking at a piece of cheddar or brie brings the 22-year-old out in a cold sweat, causing her to get close to having a panic attack.
The student has struggled with her fear since she was just four years old, making many life situations difficult for her.
Melissa said: “I remember being really little and was at a friend’s house for tea.
“I was given cheese on toast and I just knew straight away that I didn’t want it.
“It tasted horrible but my parents had always taught me to finish what was on my plate – I didn’t want to be rude so I had no choice but to eat it.
“It just tasted disgusting and I’ve been afraid of it ever since.
“Now if I was ever offered cheese or was given a meal with cheese in it I would just have to refuse it – the idea of eating it makes me feel physically sick, I’m just so scared of it.
“Walking past a deli counter in a supermarket is really difficult for me. I get so clammy and start to have a panic attack.
“It just looks awful – so gooey and disgusting – it makes me feel sick.
“My friends and family think it’s hilarious but it’s really awful. I hate going near the stuff, and seeing people eat it is horrendous.
“Touching or eating cheese for me is like someone who is scared of spiders holding a tarantula. It’s terrifying.”
It just looks awful – so gooey and disgusting – it makes me feel sick
Melissa’s phobia has even got worse in recent years, as classmates, friends and family have teased her mercilessly.
She explained: “When I was 15 there was a really awful incident with cheese that made my phobia even worse.
“My friends at school all knew about my cheese phobia and thought it would be fun to throw some cheese at me as a joke.
“It was cream cheese and it landed right in my face. I just fell to the floor and crawled out of the class room crying.
“I went to the toilets but was in too much of a state to clean it off. I was panicking and crying and I could just feel this horrible sticky cheese all over my face.
“My friend eventually managed to calm me down and clean me up but it was a horrendous experience.”
Even her boyfriend has mocked her over the fear.
She added: “My boyfriend is always making fun of me.
“He will chase me around the house with a block of cheese in his hand but I just go into a state of panic.
“I just have to lock myself in the bathroom until he gets bored.
“He is supportive of me but it’s hard to explain how much I hate it.”
Although Melissa’s phobia perhaps sounds a little on the strange side, such fears can have a real effect on a person’s life.
Dave Smithson, Services Coordinator at Anxiety UK, said: “Any kind of phobia is an irrational fear of an object or situation which wouldn’t normally arise in the average person.
“It’s not unusual to find different and unusual phobias like that of cheese.
“There are various ways you can help people with their phobias, in most cases it involves some sort of therapy, and a therapist can devise coping therapies.
“For a lot of people phobias are a life-long problem, as they do not realise what help they can be given.”