Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Simons Man Intimate with Terror

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Simons Man Intimate with Terror

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

Terror is a watchword in America today.

Blaise Dismer knows terror. He felt it in a racing heart, hyperventilating lungs and sweating palms nearly every day for 12 years. And he didn't need any passenger jets flying into skyscrapers, mysterious white powder in envelopes or terrorist alerts from the FBI.

Dismer had agoraphobia, the fear of open or public places, which leaves some too afraid to leave their homes.

Looking at Dismer today, you'd figure he has nothing to fear. Tall, like his late father, Bill, and friendly like his mother, Bebe, he rides bikes on St. Simons Island with his children, shuttles his daughter to and from dance classes and obviously enjoys life. Dressed in jeans and a work shirt worn for packing his St. Simons office for a move to St. Marys, Dismer sat talking about his terrified past as soothing gospel music played over a boom box.

His first known panic attack happened Dec. 22, 1972 -- his 21st birthday.

His pulse raced and he gasped for air as he drove, white-knuckled and terrified, along Interstate 85 in Atlanta.

Recalling the thoughts for his book, Persevering Past Panic, Dismer wrote this account:

" 'I've got to keep control of the car. Don't turn that wheel!' I told myself. It seemed that I couldn't get enough air. 'What the hell is happening to me? No, don't say hell. Dear Jesus, please stop this. Save me!' "

Save him from what? Well, nothing in reality, everything in the Twilight Zone his world became.

"The first time I can remember feeling like myself again was 12 years later," he said.

Plenty happened in between.

The man who had been skydiving for fun was terrified to climb aboard a commercial airliner. While tending bar in Denver, he began dating a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. She wanted him to come visit her in Dallas, but no plane has enough seat belts and oxygen masks to make Dismer feel safe. Many men would have walked to Dallas, but Dismer explained his anxieties kept him from flying.

"I appreciate your honesty, but I think you have too many problems for me to be involved with you," she told him. …

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