Cee’s Share Your World challenge has wonderful questions that could easily take me 1,000 words to answer! Aren’t you glad I don’t write posts that long anymore? Here’s my response to just one question, “Any phobias?” Although I had experienced a couple of panic attacks earlier in my life, I didn’t know that’s what they were. Then I suffered a panic attack at the top of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida and thought I was losing my mind.
Sadly, I was on a long trek to a major driving phobia. Eventually, just getting on a freeway or bridge caused me to faint. Fortunately my husband was sitting next to me the last time I attempted a freeway and we managed to pull off as I blacked out. Talk about scary. My world shrank, fear by fear. I struggled to navigate small back roads and had to be chauffeured by friends and family.
I suffered from this worsening phobia for 12 years. I tried biofeedback, will power, praise and worship, and years of desperate prayers. I felt that God was going to heal me, but when? How? What if I thought I was healed but passed out, killing myself and others? Then I attended a cognitive behavior therapy workshop with Reid Wilson, director of Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center. I knew nothing about his approach or I wouldn’t have gone. Seriously. But what a lifesaver that weekend was, a true answer to my prayers. I was back on the freeway and conscious! Since then, I’ve driven everywhere; my dearest teaching widower hardly ever gets a turn. He was a bit anxious himself as I took my hands off the wheel and shrieked with joy while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge last year.
I am “cured” but I use quotation marks because I’m grateful that a phobia may still raise its hairy head. My brain occasionally thinks it is protecting me (“Pass out! Pass out!”) and I’ve had a few panic attacks since that weekend. My response? Bring it on! I am free and determined to stay that way! If you suffer from phobias, check out Reid Wilson’s marvelous approach to anxiety disorders.