The Bloor Street Viaduct

bloor viaduct

I’ve mentioned that I occasionally suffer from panic attacks. The most recent ones I’ve experienced have occurred when I’ve been travelling. I have taken literally hundreds of flights in my life (my family moved around a lot when I was a kid), but for some reason about 3 years ago I developed a fear of flying. Go figure. Now any time I get on a plane I have to take lots of drugs (legal ones!) so that I don’t start freaking out as soon as we take off. I have also had random panic attacks on the subway. I think it has something to do with being in an enclosed space underground. Makes sense, I suppose, and I’m sure it’s not uncommon. Anyway, when I moved to my neighborhood a few years ago I started taking a new route to work which involves crossing the Bloor Street Viaduct every morning. It’s a beautiful bridge, and you get a pretty cool view of the city, but the first few times I was on the subway crossing over it I started to get those very bad panicky feelings. I also have a fear of heights which undoubtedly played into it. I felt disconnected from my body, like I was floating away – and when that happens I honestly feel like I’m about to die. Sounds totally melodramatic, I know, but seriously — it seems so real.

Anyway, I realized pretty quickly that I was going to be in big trouble if I couldn’t handle taking the subway across this fucking bridge every morning. There are alternate routes to work, of course, but I didn’t want to give in to those kinds of avoidance behaviors. That would only strengthen the power of the panic attacks. I knew I had to take charge and be decisive! No time for cowardice.

The next few times that I crossed the bridge, I forced myself to stand right up next to the glass, looking down at the river and trails below. I was shaking at first, scared, because I could feel the panic rising. But after about a week, a funny thing happened. I started to like the sense of vertigo that I got from staring out over the bridge. Now, it is the thing that I enjoy the most on my way to work. I always move to the window when we get to the crossing, and allow the feeling of disorientation to take a hold of me. I’m not scared of it at all any more — in fact, it’s kind of a thrill.


5 responses to “The Bloor Street Viaduct

  1. Awesome post. I’ve almost never had a panic attack, but facing fears this way is something I very much identify with.

  2. Genius! I’m going to do this. Not with the Bloor Street Viaduct, obv. but with the next thing that scares the pants off me.

  3. Pingback: Until the song is over | Mental Skillness

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