School’s Starting! Let’s Go to the Pool!

When I’m not writing about stuff, I help teachers, teach. Uh-oh! So now that part of me is out of the closet on this blog. Yikes!

Prior to admitting that I teach teachers, (I did teach kids for 30 years first) I outed myself in this blog for being:

  • a fake foodie
  • a pear-shaped clothing shopper
  • an inept cook, social media user, hiker, dieter, etc. etc. blah blah.

Then I outed myself as a gephyrophobic. That’s a fancy word for a person who is afraid of being or driving on a bridge. I prefer to use my own made-up word, Brobic.

From my background as a phobic, I was hooked by The NY Times Article, “Terror Conquered, the Water’s Fine.” Written by N. R. Kleinfield, the article’s tag was “A New Yorker Faces His Phobia, One Stroke at a Time.” It was about a 33 year old guy, Attis Clopton, who was afraid of swimming. After suffering  with his aquaphobia  for years, Attis signed up for swimming lessons.

As I read  his story, I forgot that I was originally hooked by the phobia angle. I was caught up in the methods,  an old teacher word, that teacher, Lori Pailet, used  to help Attis learn to swim and overcome his fear.

The story showed a teacher at work, a damn fine teacher. Most teachers I know are damn fine teachers too. Some of you will look at the article and say the man in this story  was “ready to learn,” and that’s why it worked. I don’t know.

I do know that we, teachers get all kinds of kids. Some of those kids are “ready to learn,” and some of them are not. Good teachers do their very best to reach them all. Hats off to Lori Pailet, and to all great teachers!

Here’s the link to the story: http://nyti.ms/1pPOPYU

Can I Laugh My Way Through Panic Attacks?

Yesterday I watched a wonderful Huff Post Live broadcast called Mental Health: Living With Anxiety. Thanks to the moderator and panelists who shared their experiences with phobias and panic attacks. The link to the program is below this post.

Here in my blog, I have begun to write about my own panic attacks on bridges, planes, mountains, and let’s just say, “anything that goes up, high.”

Here in this blog, I can be real smart. I can invent solutions, laugh and make cracks about heads floating up in the sky when we, panic attackers, are having our out of body experiences.

When I am not here in this blog, I am not so smart.

Let’s take Saturday night when my husband, Jerome the Great and Good, and I were heading to a restaurant in Queens.  He was driving and I was giving directions. Missing the access to the main part of the Queensboro Bridge, he drove on to the lower level. In seconds, we entered a rickety, single, OUTSIDE lane, which was once used as a trolley track. We were there with nothing between us, the East River and the rooftops of Manhattan and Queens, but a teeny-weeny, rusty, ripped up fence.

So, during that time, when I was not here in my blog, I did not say funny things.

I did sweat, hyperventilate, clench, pound, moan and pray.

And, in case you were wondering, I cursed; but I did not use the word “doodyhead” like I do here in my blog. Sometimes, “doodyhead” just doesn’t cut it.

I am fortunate that I will still travel on bridges, planes, even an occasional tram up a mountain. But nine times out of ten, it will be a hellish experience for me.

The thing is I keep living to tell about it.

For that, I say thanks to all those others who have shared their own stories and research. Thanks again to Scott Stossel, author of My Age of Anxiety, one of my favorite books, for tweeting and reminding me of the Huffington Post Live broadcast.

Also, thanks to the wonderful moderator and panelists at Huffington Post Live for their insight. The link to the program is below.

And I will continue to make attempts to look at the light side of all my stuff. Believe me, it would be a heck of a lot easier to write about only the dark side, but what fun would that be?

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/anxiety-in-america/53eaaa3778c90ab003000010

 

 

How Scared are You Crossing that Bridge? There’s a Scale for That

If, like me, you’re the type who hates driving over bridges, you can probably relate to the one to ten scale that we, gephyrophobics use to measure our anxiety.

A zero to one self-assessment score means you are calm while driving over the bridge.

How calm are you?

You could be eating a liverwurst sandwich with one hand, holding a nice glass of cabernet sauvignon in the other hand, and a tornado could be swirling around you.

A ten self-assessment score means you are very scared while driving over the bridge.

How scared are you?

You’re in that same tornado, but this time:  your sweaty palms separate from your arms; your head exits your body and catapults straight to Neptune; and you feel like your car’s steering wheel is spinning like that nice little girl’s head in The Exorcist.

And, the liverwurst sandwich you ate last night is break-dancing on your left ventricle!

But one thing, at least for me, is true. I still drive over bridges, and after my Ten comes back down to a Zero, I get this crazy idea to write about the experience and maybe help someone else.

Heights and Bridges: Going Over the Edge!

Photo Credit: churl via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: churl via Compfight cc

Here is a lovely picture of a big, tall, bridge. Now look up at the big blue sky over the bridge.

Do you see a woman’s head floating around in the big blue sky over the bridge?  The head has dyed brown hair, eyeglasses and a mouth, wide open, screaming.

The head belongs to a woman who is having an out-of-body experience.

The rest of her body is driving (sort of) down there, on the highway on the bridge, three lanes north and three south. The woman’s body is driving south and her car is straddling the center and inside lane. Next to her car, in the outside lane, is a huge tanker truck. Way up in the sky, the woman’s head secretly thanks the tanker for blocking her view of the edge of the bridge. Bridges and their edges make her have panic attacks like she’s having now.

The problem with having panic attacks on bridges and going 11 mph while straddling two lanes in a 50 mph zone, is sometimes other drivers get angry. They line up behind the woman’s car and honk or tailgate. Up in the sky, her head sees them banging on their steering wheels in total frustration, and she feels their pain.

Her head tries to will her body to relax. “Breathe.” she commands her faraway body. “Count to ten. Sing! ‘The farmer in the dell. The f–ker in the dell. Hi ho…’” It’s useless. She can’t get enough air to get the words out.

“This will be the day that I die,” she thinks.

Meanwhile down in her body, her sweaty hands clutch the steering wheel. She prays that her hands won’t slip on the steering wheel and send her over the edge of the bridge. “Over the edge! That’s a funny one.” She’s already over the edge! Up in the sky, her floating head enjoys the irony.

At last it’s over. As her car arrives at the end of the bridge and on to solid road, the woman’s head falls from the sky and reconnects with her neck and the rest of her body. She is spent.

“Never again,” she says. “I will never do this again, as long as I live.”

But she lies.  She still drives on bridges, climbs mountain ledges, and rides up the old wooden rickety escalator at Macy’s to the 7th floor Woman’s Department.

So, if you are in some high place, and next to you  is a wacky pear shaped woman, introduce yourself.

You might hear her say, “Hello. My name is Rose, The Nothing Expert, and I am afraid of lots of things that go up.”

“Welcome Rose,” you might say. “You’re among friends.”