Fear of Bridges? Me, Too

Gephyrophobia is the anxiety disorder of fear of bridges. The Bay Area might not be the best place to live if you have it. To get to San Francisco, you either have to take the San Mateo Bridge or the Bay Bridge.

To get to Sausalito and Marin County, you have to take the Richmond Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge after you’ve taken one of the aforementioned bridges to the city.

When I was a little kid in Iowa, on one of the rare occasions that my family took a road trip and even more rare occasion to cross a bridge, they would joke around and say, “Lift up your feet!”

“Why?” I asked.

“So they don’t get wet!”

To them it was a joke. To me it was horrifying. I was too young to know they were kidding. The thought of the water coming up onto the bridge and then into the car gave me nightmares.

“Your ancestors must’ve been attacked on a bridge,” one of my current friends said.

At any rate, I am not the only family member with this phobia. While playing a card game with relatives back in Iowa, we had to write down our biggest fear. Three of us said bridges, although my aunt said curving bridges, a more specific fear.

Once, while driving my entire family in our Suburban in Portland, I came up to a high curving bridge traversing the river that runs through the middle of town. I wasn’t prepared for it and lost it!

“Calm down!” my husband at the time said.

Has telling someone to calm down ever worked in the history of mankind? I say it has not.

I got over the high bridge and then pulled over and got out. I was done driving in Portland. No one told me there was a river running down the center of Portland — the Willamette.

I drive my kids to the San Francisco airport to fly to their homes in Boston. I drive over the Benicia Bridge to go to Napa wineries or Tahoe. Do I like it? I do not.  Can I do it? Yes, if I am in the middle lane, not near any edges. I drive slower than the rest, and they pass me. It’s okay. I am a flat-lander from Iowa. I do not like to be up high over water.

The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) gets to the city from Oakland by going into a tunnel into the bay.  It is supposed to be earthquake proof.  I often wonder what would happen if it stalled in the tunnel and we had to evacuate. All I know is not to touch the third rail.

Once a Midwestern friend came out to visit, and as we were going through the tunnel on BART, I said, “Look out the window! You can see the fish!”

Yes, she was startled.  Yes, it was mean to her, funny to me, much the same as how Ellen scares her guests on her show and then laughs and laughs at them.  I shouldn’t have done it. We were safe inside a dry tunnel.

I guess I get it from my parents.

At any rate, I still hate bridges but have learned how to live with them.

After all, it’s the Bay Area, land of many bridges.

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