As we watch Hurricane Dorian ravage the coastlines of North and South Carolina, I’m reminded of a kiddo who was ravaged by your everyday storms. Ellie (not her real name) had a serious anxiety disorder, a compulsion to obsess on anything weather-related. We all knew that this stemmed from the trauma in which her twin died in a car accident; it was one of the first things she told me about herself. Given the vagaries of the brain, her fears had latched primarily onto the weather, although she had numerous other anxieties.
Do you know how hard it is to keep kids from talking about things like hurricanes and tornadoes? Ellie and her classmates went into overdrive regarding catastrophic events, only Ellie couldn’t stop panicking. I wonder if she has ever received any cognitive behavior support for those crippling fears. I hope so. For Ellie and all the rest of us, go away, Dorian!
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.