Driving Anxiety - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-06-2011, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Although I have driven on interstates since receiving my license - almost 40 years ago - I am developing terrible anxiety about driving on interstates.  It is truly starting to impact my life.


It has been brewing for a couple of years, but was always manageable.  Now, I am basically unable to get on the interstate without major panic and then I exit quickly.


Nothing has happened to bring this on such as an accident or witnessing something scary.


I have had increased general anxiety for the last year and also health anxiety.  Perhaps this is the culmination?


If I am talking on the phone, it seems much better - as ironic as that seems.  Doing something to distract me makes me feel safter.  But, always talking is not possible.  Long trips, early morning,etc.  It is somewhat better with another adult in car.  But not great.


I have to get a handle on this.  I am facing a move and the thought of not being able to get around is terrifying to me.


It almost seems to have something to do with my eyes - like I don't know where to look or focus with all the visual stimulation of the freeway.  It is as if my eyes want to close. My eyes seem fine - although perhaps a bit light sensitive.  So, I don't think it is really a physical problem.  I just don't know!!!


I have tried bach rememedies, etc.  I would almost consider going on meds if it meant I can drive again. 


It is mainly the interstate although sometimes I get nervous on windy two lane roads.  Night driving is difficult for me due to light sensivity - although I am ok in familar areas. 


I don't want to simply cope with the panic.  I want to feel like myself with driving again!!! 


If anyone has solved such a problems, please respond.  I have seen programs one can purchase for driving anxiety - etc.  I can see a cognitive behavior therapist - she says she can help, but wants to push meds.


I truly want to understand what is going on and hopefully solve this.  As I said, I have driven in crazy traffic on busy interstates my whole like without a problem.


I don't think it is simply having children in the back seat.  I used to be fine.  My son is starting to notice and comment and I feel awful when a one hour trip takes us three on the back roads.


Thanks in advance for any replies.  This is weighing heavily on me.

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#2 of 5 Old 07-06-2011, 06:09 PM
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I wish I had more helpful information to give you! I think it is great that you are working on getting over your fears. The best advice I can give is to seek some counseling support. It is hard to tell if medication is needed, it may not be. Don't give up, try going a few more exits each time and building your self confidence up with positive thinking. If possible see if you can do this when your alone. Best of luck!!

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#3 of 5 Old 07-12-2011, 07:45 AM
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I used to deal with this to the point that I couldn't drive at all (I could be in a car, just couldn't be the driver...)

One thing that helped me was chewing gum. I actually can't stand gum lol but somehow the chewing action was beneficial, maybe kind of the way talking on the phone helps (phone was also helpful to me)... Along the same lines, you could give yourself some distractions like audio books or loud music... Sometimes having the a/c blast or window open (even in the winter) helped me... Basically anything that was kind of stimulating, I guess, would prevent me from falling too far into an anxious state. Drinking water, too -- you can't hyperventilate or anything while you're drinking, plus again it provides a physical sensation...

Do you wear sunglasses to drive? I go through periods of light sensitivity and have a pair of sunglasses that fits over my regular glasses. And are you on any meds? Sometimes they can make you photosensitive.

If you can, try not to give in to the anxiety, because it will just give it more power over you. See if you can stay on the highway just a little bit longer, even if you're uncomfortable doing it. Are there any thoughts that go through your head when you get anxious?

The Sky is Falling, by Raenne Dumont (sp?) is a good self-help book for anxiety/phobias/etc.

I did take large doses of Ativan for years because that was the only way I could even make it through the day. I FAR prefer being med-free but if you get to the point that you can't function and can't take steps to learn coping techniques, than meds could be a short-term way to relieve the anxiety enough for therapy etc. to be effective.

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#4 of 5 Old 07-23-2011, 02:50 PM
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First came partners.gif then cat.gif then another cat.gif and then babygirl.gif (11/11)
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#5 of 5 Old 07-26-2011, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by birdhappy85 View Post

This whole time I've experienced anxiety about driving, I thought I was alone. I'm so glad to know I'm not. hug2.gif I get nervous about driving on highways as well, and that's what I usually have to do in order to visit friends or family. It's very frustrating and I have never explained it to anyone but my husband and therapist because it feels like such an irrational fear. I think my fear stems from knowing several adults who died in car accidents while I was growing up, one killed by a drunk driver too. It has me very paranoid and panicky. Once I'm in the car it's not so bad, but I do grip the steering wheel really hard and get really nervous if I'm in anyone's blind spot or I see any reckless drivers. I fear that I'm not alert enough. Getting myself to even commit to plans with people and get into my car to drive there is the hardest part. So once I have tackled that, I seem to be okay and can distract myself. I wish I could say I have found a way to completely stop the anxiety, but I haven't. The only thing that helps is if I have gotten good sleep (rarely) and am in a completely rational mind and can stop my racing thoughts in their tracks. I have talked about it briefly in therapy but haven't had the time to really dedicate to working on it. After my baby is born and I'm done breastfeeding (a while into the future), I would consider going on an anxiolytic now. But I won't try certain other psych meds at this point because there were a few that dulled me out so bad that I actually almost got into car accidents because of them. I got confused at a flashing yellow light one time thinking it was going to turn red and stopped in the middle of a busy road with a semi truck quickly approaching behind me. I'm lucky he was able to go into the other lane at the last minute! Scary stuff.


Good luck to you! I would continue working in therapy and pinpoint where your fears are stemming from. That seems to always help me with other anxiety issues and PTSD I have, at least for a while.


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