“For those determined to conquer — or at least tame — their fears, however, there is ample help available: phobia workshops, exposure therapy, mental tricks, medication, self-help books.” This entry is from an article in the January 8, 2008 edition of the New York Times which discusses a specific phobia.
Gephyrophobia is the fear of bridges and one that I’ve lived with for most of my life. People ask me all the time “Steph, how can you live in the city of bridges and be afraid of them?” The answer before I lost my vision was, in my mind, simple: I’d pick and choose which ones to cross. Many days I would go miles out of my way to avoid a particular bridge. My anxiety on bridges gets really bad depending on a number of factors like how much traffic is on the bridge, length, height, width, weather conditions, trucks, speed of other drivers, there are so many variables I could write an entire essay on my reasoning.
So what’s it like when someone like me gets stuck on a bridge? How do I react? The answer can be as convoluted as the factors of why I get so anxious. For example if I’m on a bus I start to sweat as my heartbeat quickens, while surreptitiously glancing around to see if anyone else appears to be in discomfort, or worse, if my fellow passengers are watching me in the beginning stages of a panic attack. It’s getting difficult to breathe and I’m trying to get a grip so that I don’t start hyperventilating but I’m convinced the bridge is going to collapse and the more I think about it the more I believe. I begin to shake slightly and my mind, like a kaleidoscope, flashes images of me running to the door of the bus banging on it while screaming at the driver to let me out so I can run but my fear of looking like a loony is on par with the fear of the bridge.
If on the other hand I’m in a vehicle I feel a little safer losing my cookies; my brother, Robert, found this out first-hand about 11 years ago on a trip to Ocean City, Maryland. Prior to going on any road trip I always review the route so there won’t be any surprises and this trip was no exception. My research took me to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge a 4.3 mile long-span that crosses the Chesapeake Bay.
I was so excited to go on this trip with my husband and 2 of my 3 sons because it had been years since I last saw Robert who lived in Maryland about 10 years prior to our visit. The evening of our arrival we went to dinner then Robert took us on a tour of downtown Baltimore. At some point during our outing he tried to convince me to go to Ocean City the next day a plan that I firmly nixed because of the bridge.
The next morning Robert met us at our hotel for breakfast and talk began again about going to Ocean City. When I reaffirmed that I couldn’t cross the bridge he said the bridge we would cross is not the one I saw online. We went back and forth for I don’t know how long but in the end I was persuaded to change my mind although Robert would soon regret it.
My brother being the magnanimous person he is offered to drive me across the bridge in his car which meant my husband would follow us in my vehicle. The trip went pretty smooth for a while but my nerves were on edge as I kept my eyes peeled for “THE” bridge. When we approached the slight incline to the toll booths Robert looks at me (with concern in his eyes) and says “you might want to recline your seat all the way back.” I thought I’d hurl and I hadn’t even seen the bridge yet but there’s no turning back so I turn up the volume to my gospel CD, recline my seat, and try to focus on anything but this awful situation.
Unbeknownst to me, when my husband and kids (who are following behind my brother’s car) see my seat going down they start laughing and are talking about how sorry they feel for my brother. I’m about to die, they’re feeling sorry for Robert and what’s even more despicable, they’re glad I’m not riding with them!
In Robert’s car I’m having a meltdown of all meltdowns and no one can convince me I’m going to make it out of this alive. If it weren’t for the fact that I was so out of my mind at the time I’d almost feel sorry for Robert because he kept asking me “are you okay?” “Are you going to be alright?” He was genuinely worried. At one point he tells me to lift up to look at the beautiful view because we are almost at the end of the bridge. I do, big mistake, all I can see is water everywhere. I’m so unbelievably scared, nauseous, crying, angry and out of control I start yelling at him telling him “this is the bridge I saw online, you lied to me!”
Yes, I had made it to the other side but the vacation was ruined because all I could think of for the next few days was returning home by way of this bridge. Since Robert didn’t stay on in Ocean City, my husband and kids would have to deal with me on the return trip. Funny thing though, my very wise husband perceived the signs of my eminent nervous breakdown and we went several hours (not to mention miles) out-of-the-way to avoid the Chesapeake Bay Bridge
So how can my fear of bridges relate to today’s post? It’s not so much about my fear of bridges as opposed to just plain fear. Remember how last week I talked about falling off Weight Watchers and eating stuff that isn’t good for me? Well my newest fear is my scale. Yes, you heard right I’m afraid to get on my scale.
I was doing so well and this set back is disappointing. The thing with the scale is this since it talks to me I’m afraid it will actually yell at me for my bad behavior.
“Hello” the very pleasant female voice says as I step on the scale. By the way there is no volume control on this device and it sounds like an explosion going off or it could be I’m just a little touchy.
“I’m ready” once she has calculated how much I weigh. I step off the scale.
“150.2 pounds” she says. Okay, that was anticlimactic and the damage isn’t as bad as I imagined.
The progress I made prior to moving made me feel so good and I’ve been looking forward to warmer weather, lighter clothes, and summer shoes. As I mentioned in earlier posts since I choose not to wear the high heels as in the past I’ve been on the lookout for some cute, flat gladiator sandals. The pair that I added to this post I got from zooshoo.com. These sandals are very comfortable and look great with my wide leg pants, maxi dresses, skirts, shorts. I love the strappy look and the metal looking beading which connects to all the straps makes them stand out. The zipper at the heel to ankle straps make them very easy to put on and take off.
The second pair of shoes are very pretty flat slingbacks that gained me quite a few compliments when I wore them a couple of weeks ago with a pair of jeans. I bought these shoes from www.modcloth.com and while they are described as a blue hue they are more of a mint color with white strap at the heel. Like the sandals these shoes are very comfortable and they would go well with just about anything casual or dressy.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ~Anaïs Nin, Diary, 1969