Bridging anxiety

blogIMG_8529 (2)For some folks, bridges are frightening especially those high, long spans across a wide body of water. You’d think with my trepidation about deep water, I’d be one of those who suffer from gephyrophobia – a fear of bridges.

The word gephyrophobia is literally derived from the Greek words for bridge (gephyra) and fear (phobos).  For those who have this phobia, it might stem from being claustrophobic (fear of being enclosed) or afraid of heights (acrophobia).

Just the thought of crossing a bridge can induce anxiety for some people. Bridges have never bothered me to that kind of extent. Instead, I actually like them and I find I’m partial to photographing them as well.

Perhaps it’s because growing up where I did in western Pennsylvania, there were bridges everywhere since rivers, creeks, and streams abound and must be crossed to get from one place to another. It’s just a part of daily life.

I do remember a couple of times being on a bridge gave me a little consternation though. Back when I was a middle and high school student, I rode a bus to school each day and that bus, along with many others, had to not only cross the bridge into town but sit lined up on that crossing because of a traffic light.

I can recall sitting on the bus as we bounced up and down when opposing traffic crossed the bridge, especially trailer or coal trucks. It never occurred to me to be frightened until we heard the news about a bridge, very similar to our town’s bridge, collapsing in West Virginia with traffic sitting on it. 

After that, our bus driver told us that if our bridge should ever give way and we sank into the river, we should kick out the bus windows and try to swim to the surface.

I’m relieved to say that never occurred and that bridge still stands today and is heavily used, although a highway bridge was constructed just a mile or so south of that one where more traffic and trucks now cross.  

As I look back, I can only name one other bridge that kind of gave me the willies. To cross the river from the rural township where my family lived to a neighboring small town, we had to drive over an old metal bridge.  That one did not have a concrete floor, so you could see through the metal to the river below.

It was also narrow and when I was a novice behind the steering wheel of a car, it made me a nervous wreck to drive across that bridge. Thankfully it’s now long gone, torn down several years ago and replaced with a better concrete version.

blogIMG_8531After we visited Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay area this past summer, one of my blogging buddies told me that there are companies that will drive those who live on the eastern side of the bay but work on the western side and just cannot make themselves drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  That never had occurred to me, but it makes sense for those who fear driving across that bridge since it’s a long one.

Recently, Papa and I were chatting with a relative, much younger than us, at a family reunion. We were discussing various places we’ve all vacationed from one time or another, and somehow we landed on the topic of bridges.

He and his wife had honeymooned on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, so they had driven there via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  Now THAT bridge – we’ve driven it, but I really don’t like it, not because it’s a bridge but because it’s a bridge that tunnels UNDER the water. Kind of creeps me out.

Our young relative agreed. He had no problem driving the CBBT on their way to their destination but on return trip, he suddenly became extremely anxious as they were approaching that bridge. 

It was very windy and he was suffering with swimmer’s ear and he thinks the combination of the two was making him feel very unsteady, especially while driving. So he had to pull over and ask his newlywed wife to drive. Fortunately, she didn’t have a problem doing so.

For me, it doesn’t matter whether I’m driving or just a passenger, I’m not too willing to use that bridge tunnel ever again, thank you very much.

But I see inspiration when I view a bridge. I compare it to living life.  When we can’t cross from one place to another in our journey of life, we become stuck. We’re stymied. We’re stagnant. Stuck in our old ruts. Stuck in one place emotionally, mentally, or spiritually because we can’t or won’t cross a bridge to get to the other side.

Maybe that’s why bridges fascinate me. They provide a way to get over what hinders me.

“Make a decision. Cross the bridge.” ~ unknown