I was searching for an old post here about roller coasters and I noticed that I used to write like a happy person. What a revelation.
A friend asked if I wanted to meet up with her next month at an amusement park to partake of their Halloween Haunt. Ride the coasters, crack the whip, get scared out of my wits.
I remembered that I had sworn off amusement parks, having ridden my last wild roller coaster on Coney Island a few years ago. And in my frazzled state, even commercials for scary movies bother me so I can't even imagine how much screaming I'd do when faced with costumed ghouls jumping out of dark corners. Scary, yes.
But nothing scares me like the subject of my phobia. The phobia I have mentioned but never divulged because I've been so embarrassed and ashamed.
I have passed the one-year anniversary mark of having this phobia, which came on quite suddenly and shows no signs of leaving even though I'm starting to feel more like myself again.
I've discovered that I'm not the only one with this phobia, and that it's not as uncommon as I thought. I take some comfort in that.
I'm also listening to my new counselor who advised me to talk about it instead of silently obsessing and making it the huge scary monster.
So here goes:
I'm terrified of driving on a highway. This includes being a passenger.
I know what you're thinking. Seriously? No, seriously? How do you function? How do you go anywhere? How did this happen? You're ridiculous. Just fix it. Get over it. It's a stupid fear. You're imagining it. What if you had to drive a highway to work? You're a joke. Pathetic.
Oh wait, those are the voices in my head.
How do I go anywhere? Well, I really don't. I know all the back roads in the region where I live. My commute is 2.5 miles over a bridge. I take public transportation to get to the big city, which doesn't bother me if I close my eyes. To get by on the basics, I don't need to use a highway. I live in my city and that's that. Funny, right?
How do I function? It's not easy. It breaks my heart that I've missed out on seeing friends and going places because of this phobia. I missed a family member's funeral because of it. What happens when I am a passenger in a car on the highway? I have a complete breakdown. Tears flow like an open faucet. I'm tense for hours and I'm shaking when I get out of the car. It's no fun for Salty D.
I've spent a lot of time at home. A lot. Partly because of this phobia, and partly because I've been so damn exhausted every day.
It doesn't help that the expressways in my region have been nicknamed the "death highways." The aggressive or distracted drivers out there certainly don't help. And people who tell me to hurry up and get over it don't help either, even though I know they care.
I don't know how I'm going to come back. After a year, after talking with my family and my medical team about it (and having some of them laugh at me,) after countless occasions trying to just turn onto that highway entrance ramp and drive to the next exit, and not being able to do it, I just don't have an answer.
Just when I start to think that things are getting better I remember I have this phobia and feel like an utter failure.
I know I'm not the only one with a weird fear.