Gephyrophobia is defined as, “An abnormal and persistent fear of crossing bridges. Sufferers of this phobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational.”
I’ve always had a sense of fear going over bridges. I can’t pinpoint when exactly this fear was triggered or what triggered it, but it’s definitely there. I didn’t really know that there was a specific name for the fear and anxiety that I feel when crossing bridges. I’ve learned though, that I have several friends that share this fear, most for unknown reasons.
Let me tell you what happened while crossing a bridge during my daily commute to work.
Living in my area makes it especially difficult just to get to work at times, there are bridges literally everywhere! I have to cross a two-lane bridge over the St. John’s River in order to get back and forth to work. A necessary evil if you will. Most days are good, I roll the window down, crank up the music to drown out my pounding heartbeat, and cruise over the bridge, with my anxiety not triggered at all. Other days not so much. The intensity of the panic is overwhelming at times and I know that my fear is mostly irrational.
I was taught how to drive (20 years ago) by a retired defensive driving instructor and have had lots of experience driving since obtaining my license. I’ve probably crossed the Shand’s bridge thousands of times during travel since I was just a little tater tot.
Today on my way to work that fear struck me and so hard I thought my heart might explode out of my chest and onto the steering wheel.
It was early morning, the sun was rising and like most mornings, it’s incredibly beautiful to see the sun rising over the treetops as I make my way across the bridge. The traffic was steady moving and I had plenty of space between the vehicle in front of me and behind me. At least a car length between both. As I come over the peak of the bridge and start the downward slope I can see a concrete truck about 10 vehicles in front of me slowing down almost to a dead stop, then I can see all the following vehicles locking up their brakes, everyone coming to an immediate halt.
I’m smashing the brake while also silently praying that I don’t hit the person in front of me, eyes darting to the rear view mirror making sure the person behind me also doesn’t hit me. Just as I’m thanking my lucky stars, I hear the screeching sounds of brakes, I look in my side mirror and can see a compact car dart out of the lane it was in, narrowly avoiding hitting the vehicle in front of them. I thought for sure they were about to fly off the side of the bridge, but there was a small break and she was able to enter back into her lane without causing an accident!
I couldn’t believe it, honestly, it was crazy and fortunate that no one was in an accident.
The rest of my drive to work was uneventful, but I still couldn’t shake that feeling that I had just escaped being part of something that could have had terrible life-changing results.
Check out my video below of the Shands Bridge at various times I’ve crossed it.