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Author Topic: Fear of driving - my story  (Read 236 times)

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Offline furor2

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Fear of driving - my story
« on: April 28, 2014, 03:55:31 PM »
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.

Regards
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Offline t-panic

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Re: Fear of driving - my story
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2014, 04:54:18 PM »
Hello furor2,

Your predicament sounds so much like my own. Driving has been the biggest trigger for me over the past 2 years. My first attack was on a 300km drive to the family cottage and my most severe attack was on a 40km commute home from work. I'm 26 years old. I just graduated 2 years ago from a College Architecture Program.

You have every right to be concerned for your own well being and your passengers. First thing is first, you should see your doctor and ensure you are physically healthy and if you believe you have an anxiety disorder see a psychiatrist as well. At least then you can alleviate yourself of any guilt while driving.

If it is anxiety based you can control it. If you need to pull over and calm yourself down always do so. Do it safely and do it when you start to feel the panic coming on. I don't want to tell you that you won't lose control of you vehicle because when you are in panic mode you may decide to do something irrational. If you don't feel up to driving then don't.

It helps to look at driving as less of a chore and something that is fun. Music while driving can be helpful as well. Sounds crazy but sometimes on my way home from work I would sing along with the radio just to calm myself. As well sometimes you just have to push through the panic and anxiety. Last summer my fiance and I drove from Toronto, Canada to Los Angeles, up the Pacific coast to Vancouver and back to Toronto (12,000km in 18days). We were averaging 800km everyday we drove and I was doing all of the driving. My panic attacks weren't as bad then and I could control them easier. But I think a major factor in my ability to control them was that I was enjoying the trip too much to turn around and go home. The scenery and all of the bewilderment of the places I hadn't been to before took my mind off of the panic.

If you expect something bad to happen your body is going to prepare you for it. My best advice is to consult your doctor if you have any doubt and be honest with them. Tell them your concerns. Good luck.
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Offline TyeDyedButterfly

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Re: Fear of driving - my story
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2014, 03:29:20 PM »
I am so sorry to read this is happening to you and others and myself its so hard to drive at times and I get sick and woozy headed and I cry and sometimes turn around and go back home makes me feel like a total failure. my foot will sometimes jump so bad I can not keep it on the gas pedal so I speed up and slow down.. so I don't go many places and thank goodness I live in a very small town or country really.
my therapist says start slowly and don't over do the first several times out or just start out setting in the car and do self talk.  some days easier then others on that.

good luck
Tulip
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PEACE, LOVE AND HAPPINESS !

Offline danman

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Re: Fear of driving - my story
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2014, 08:57:12 PM »
I have the same issues... mine is worse when I'm a passenger. I guess driving keeps my.mind from wandering.
But I've had panics driving to where my body just locks up. I'm 40. I know alcohol causes anxiety and also temporarily fixes them. It's not a good circle. I was wrapped in that circle till I finally quit drinking and started meds. But long trips still cause me to panic. I get anxious to be where I'm driving to and sign says 100 miles I'm like oh fuckin great!
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