A little bit about one of my (many) Phobias!
I always like to see the positive in everything so I am going to say that I am blessed with a variety of phobias that set me a number of challenges just getting through everyday life.
No 1 - motorways and motorway bridges
Trying to find job that does not involve going on the motorway OR going over the motorway via a bridge was not easy. Goodness me it was hard enough for me to find a job when I returned to England let alone having a specific set of locations that were a no go for me!
About 9 years ago just at the end of my corporate career I was climbing up the ladder at a pretty fast pace and not doing too badly – thank you very much. I hit stumbling block and experienced my first panic attack while driving on the motorway. Not pleasant experience and I would not wish that on anyone else. To cut a long story short after years of bombing up and down the M1 on the outside lane I had to give up driving on the motorway, basically for the safety of me and for every other driver on the M1 as well!
This developed into the delightful fear of not just driving on motorways but driving OVER them as well and the combination cutting out the two options when driving makes it all a little bit restricting.
Luckily the long suffering Chau is understanding of my predicament and motorway driving is all his. I think he made that decision after the time I thought I was OK to give it a go which lasted 10 mins on the M4 before my hands and feet went numb, heart was palpitating and the vertigo feeling overcame me. Freaking out I pulled into the hard shoulder where I just climbed into the back of the car leaving Chau to ‘deal with it’ Mum was in the car too – sorry Mum!
Crossing motorway bridges is a big challenge as when driving solo as even with my carefully planned non motorway route generally mean I will have to cross one. My heart is actually beating faster as I write as its really amazing stressful to cross these things. I have no rational reason for this fear at all, apart from the fact I really do have the urge to jump. No idea why and I probably should be seen by someone professional pretty damn soon!
I have been known many times to psyche myself up miles prior to the impending motorway bridge and be really determined to give it a go. As I approach the panic attack symptoms start to kick in and the prickly armpit syndrome starts (does anyone else get prickly armpits when they are stressed or is it just me?) anyway it’s about a 50/50 chance if I cross them.
On a good day and if I am going fast enough I can do it and the relief and elation is something to behold.
If it’s an off day for me or the car in front of me is going too slow for my liking I generally fail as it gives me too much time to think on the approach. I am known to indicate just before the bridge and do a nifty three point turn which really is not an ideal situation for me or any on else on the road but I just can’t do it! I suppose it better than trying to do a 3 point turn when I am actually suspended on the bridge!
Recently I was at the start of Wokingham Half Marathon where I was making polite chit chat to a nice gent as we waited to set off. I have never run this one before so I asked ‘are there any hills on the course?’ ‘not really’ he said ‘Oh, other than on the approach to the motorway bridges’ ‘what the f….?’ I said back, I think that was in my head not out loud.
Luckily for Chau he was at the front section for starting the race as he is super speedy. If he was anywhere near me he would have got what for as he knows thatI can’t go anywhere near a bridge on my own two feet without the security of a car. He still won’t admit if he totally forgot to tell me or thought it was best for me to be ignorant of them. Not sure if I have forgiven him yet… Bridges mean more than one so how was I going to deal with this? Do I back out or go for it?
I went for it and just waited as my legs ate up the miles and the bridges got closer. My laboured breathing increased as did the sweat and the swearing but I am so proud to tell you I did it and made it over all of them! It certainly took my mind off the distance and the howling February wind. I want to thank all of the runners who ‘adopted’ me whilst running over the bridges as I hung onto their T Shirt or hand (whether they liked it or not!) one lovely lady who got me over the second bridge told me to look at the men’s bums in short which I thought was an excellent idea and kept up with that focus whether it was bridges or not!
So if I am every late for anything its probably because I am still planning my non motorway, non-bridge route and I think I might find an alternative Half Marathon next February!
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