Imagine just the sight of a highway reducing you to a blubbery, sweaty, shaking mess. Every time you drive by one. Just seeing the cars rush by up on the overpass freaks you out, and you don't know why. That's the worst part, you don't know why.
You weren't in an accident, you weren't traumatized. You woke up one day and it was just like that.
You used to drive everywhere. From Pennsylvania through Manhattan to Long Island, or to upstate New York in a blizzard. But you'd been reduced to being practically homebound, living for months driving only within a five-mile radius of your home. You couldn't even be a passenger in a car driving on a highway without crying.
I was ashamed of this fear for many months. When I first talked to doctors and a counselor about it, they acted surprised, making me feel like even more than a freak. Eventually I got a new counselor who had not only helped others through this but had experienced the intense fear herself. My doctor finally said to me, "Yeah. This is a common phobia among people with bipolar." Oh really? That information would've been good to know YESTERDAY.
Fast forward to today. I just drove on the highway again. I said my affirmations, sounding like Stuart Smalley. I threw Salty D in the passenger seat for the 5th time that we've been doing this, and I drove up the on-ramp. No turning back, I merged. This time I was able to drive four exits, to a diner for Sunday breakfast. For the first time I did it without much fear, without Xanax, without shaking or tears. Today I feel triumphant. It's getting better.
It's still a little like this: