Hello guys. I would like to share my story about anxiety and fear of driving and maybe seek an advice and I thought this might be a good place to do it. So here it is:
It all started last summer. I had just finished my bachelor’s degree - gone through hell lot of exams and stress. I was back in my home town enjoying a summer break until the start of my master's. We went to a party in the countryside with my girlfriend and some friends of mine. There we drank alcohol for two days straight and I was also fighting with my girlfriend all the time. On the way back, I was the driver (it was about 200 kilometer drive back to my town). I was hungover and very tired, so we decided that a friend of mine will replace me as the driver when I got too tired. And the moment did come - I was feeling very tired, however there were only like 50 kilometers remaining till our destination, so I decided that I will be a man and will finish the journey without my friend replacing me (big mistake of course). However, few minutes afterwards it happened - I got a panic attack. It all happened very fast, so I am not sure what exactly caused it, but as far as I remember - I felt extremely tired and was feeling like falling asleep. Then, like a lightning some awful thoughts struck me of how I fall asleep and we all die (we were 5 people in the car). My heart began racing, I began to sweat and I was feeling extremely stiff - I couldn't move a muscle. So I pulled off, stopped the car and rushed out of it to take a few breaths of air. All my friends were dazzled and were wondering what’s going on. I explained that I was feeling dizzy and sleepy and needed to take a breath of fresh air. So my friend finished the journey home - with me sitting next to him and shivering out of unknown fear.
Days passed and I was ok. Until one day when I went to the hairdresser to get a haircut. There, maybe the sitting situation reminded me of the car ride and it happened again – the same feeling of panic. I told the hairdresser I need to make an urgent phone call and went outside to calm down for a few minutes. The following 2-3 weeks were like a real nightmare – I was constantly feeling strange and afraid and I got a few panic attacks as well ( I didn't drive, but when I was riding in a car I was extremely anxious). I read a lot about panic attacks and how harmless are they and such and I got better. The remaining part of the summer I was feeling fine (except for one more panic attack at the hairdresser again). Then I left for my master’s degree and now it’s been almost an year without a single panic attack or thought about one (well there have been few times when I was feeling anxious more than normal, but never a panic attack). I got many haircuts without any anxiety at all, plus I drive around in the city without fear (well I am feeling a bit anxious when I am tired or hungover, but never had a panic attack).
Well everything sounds nice except for one thing – now I am back to my home country again and soon I will have to drive long distance again. I am afraid that on the highway it will happen again. And I will need to drive people with me, so I am naturally afraid for their lives or that I will get embarrassed if I get a panic attack.
So my question is, do you guys think that I have an anxiety disorder? And what is your advice, how can I become a confident driver again, without thinking about those dreadful panic attacks?
Sorry for the long post, just wanted to share my story.