A virtual cure for anxiety is almost here

This morning, my hair dryer caught on fire.

Which is a lot better than my hair catching on fire — which actually happened once, the first time I visited Israel in 1992 and forgot to use a converter before I set my curling iron to my bangs.

I lost half my bangs that day … which was probably a good thing, in hindsight.

I sensed something was wrong this morning when I started to smell smoke. I smart girl.

By the time smoke started pouring out of the thing, my hand was already on its way to the outlet. So when fire sparks started shooting out from the plug, I pulled it out from the wall immediately.

RIP Conair Ion Shine. RIP smooth middle aged hair with no fly-aways.

It was startling, for sure, the fireworks display. It’s a fear of mine — electrical appliances spawning disasters. A friend of mine lost her house to a forgotten curling iron once when I was 10.

But the incident today was also strength-building.

How so?

As a lifelong anxiety sufferer, I’ve become really good at imagining the worst. My mind is programmed for disaster and tragedy; not so much survival and rescue. So that when I do save the day — when I manage to get myself out of a hairy situation or when, for instance, my child manages to narrowly escape harm all on his own — the grey matter in my mind has a new paradigm from which to think.

See, I can tell myself. You made it.

You are okay.

Not that I am inviting harm to myself or my children.

But I do firmly believe that a good, solid, quite startling, near tragedy is a muscle strengthener for those of us with anxiety. (As long as the outcome is a happy ending.)

It shows us that the worst isn’t always as bad as we think.

Perhaps one day, in the not-so-far away future, the smarty pants tech inventors I work with will come up with a virtual reality stimulator whose anxiety treatment is designed to fully scare the crap out of us.

So that we will see, once and for all, how strong, indeed, we are.