Anxiety while driving

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marthamae
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 10/20/2008 7:23 PM (GMT -7)   
I have bipolar 2 disorder and also general anxiety. In the past I have had occasional panic attacks. This past year I've had several physical health problems and it's been tough, but I am doing well now. I take a "cocktail" of psych drugs for my bipolar, plus I have .25 Xanax available as needed.
 
In the last couple of months I have developed driving anxiety. I am still willing to drive but I find myself sweating and very nervous. I visualize people turning left in front of me and my car crashing. I try to drive carefully and somewhat slowly. I've always been a safe driver and have never had any accidents or even been pulled over. (I'm 49).
 
I'm a substitute teacher so mainly I drive to and from neighboring schools. I also have to drive to the grocery and doctor on occasion.
I really dislike the freeway but don't have to drive on there too much.
 
It's getting to where I start thinking about driving as I am eating breakfast and I start to panic a bit. And then in the afternoon as I am getting ready to leave school, I get upset. I know this is all silly--I do need to drive and I am perfectly as safe as anyone is on these crazy roads. This thing with driving has come out of nowhere. I've never had this trouble before.
 
Does anyone have any ideas for me? My husband says this is normal...he says he hates to drive too as people on nuts on the road. But panic is different from just hating to be driving in general.
 
Thanks:)

nervymeg
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2721
   Posted 10/20/2008 8:05 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi marthamae,

You are right, a lot of people don't like driving, but when you panic over it, that's different. I had a car accident in July and my car was written off and I was terrified of driving for a while, but I had to get to work like you.

I started using a form of self hypnosis at night, I would get relaxed and then imagine myself getting into the car, starting the engine and driving safetly to work. I did this every night for about three weeks and now I'm (mostly) fine with driving again. I always make sure I play the radio and keep myself amused when I drive and that helps me with the shakes.

I hope this anxiety subsides soon, I'm sure other members have some great advice for you. Take care and hold onto the knowledge that you are a safe driver.

Meg

 


Co-moderator Anxiety/Panic
Panic Attack Survivor
 


bigcc_1976
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 94
   Posted 10/20/2008 8:18 PM (GMT -7)   

I also have anxiety/panic when driving.  My first panic attack ocurred when I was driving and I have been fearfull ever since.  The problem I have is that my job requires driving.  I had the most difficult time getting behind the wheel at first.  What I did is since my job required driving, I required myself to drive.  I went out along into a desolate area and faced it, the fear crept up and I began having an attack.  I worked myself out of it with deep breathing and telling the panic to keep coming and to give me all it had.  If it was going to kill me then do it now and get it over with.  Guess what I am here writing on this forum.  Now it didn't completely disolve my anxiety, but has lessened it.  I do put things in the CD player that requires me to think, that way on my three, four hour drive I will think of other things and keep my mind working rather than thinking of the negative. Even though I have still cancelled many of my work obligations that take me hours and thousands of miles away from home.  My next goal is to overcome this issue.  

Hope this helps.  I am here with you.  It is terrible and we here in this forum understand that what your going through is more than worried about the actual driving.  Anxiety is a tough thing, but we call all live with it.

CC


stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 10/20/2008 8:43 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi marthamae,
 
I am sorry this phobia with driving has come up. I have a issue with driving on the freeway but I keep making myself do short trips to try to condition my mind into knowing I will be fine.
I will get back to you on this topic.
Take care my friend

Kitt
 

Kitt, Co-Moderator: Anxiety/Panic & Depression
& GERD  Forums
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~
Clickable Link: Anxiety-Panic Resources


marthamae
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 10/20/2008 9:03 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks everyone for all of your kind replies.
 
I really believe this is a some temporary phase. I probably am anxious in general about something and this is the way it is popping out. My life overall is going really well, but it seems like things always crop up. This driving thing is just one of many obstacles I'll have to get through. I hate to fly, but I do it...and I don't much like heights. But this driving thing is all new.
 
So many people on this forum go through so much and are so brave. I appreciate all of your kindness and concerns.

nervymeg
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2721
   Posted 10/20/2008 10:25 PM (GMT -7)   

marthamae,

It may well be a sx of your high anxiety and as you said "a phase" i have my fingers and toes crossed that it passes for you soon. You are a brave cookie to you know! Don't forget that.

CC, great input, thanks. I can't imagine what it would be like to have had your first panic attack in a car shocked ...yikes.

I had my first attack in the bath. How lame is that???!!!!

Meg


Co-moderator Anxiety/Panic
Panic Attack Survivor
 


Carenpolar
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 672
   Posted 10/21/2008 6:48 AM (GMT -7)   
HI.. I have bipolar 1 and anxiety also...... while driving. In the last 6months I developed driving anxiety. I dont drive freeways at all..............
 
hugs, Caren

Hibee
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 6484
   Posted 10/21/2008 8:02 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi marthamae


I also get anxiety when driving and constantly feel i am going to crash my car especially when driving at night, it is a horrible feeling and i find the anxiety makes me feel very tired due to concentrating which is a real worry to me.

I try and keep to short journeys and tend to have someone in the car with me usually my brother who is a real help.

I hope these feelings go for you soon.

Take care

Ben

paniccu
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1009
   Posted 10/21/2008 9:46 AM (GMT -7)   
You are not alone. I haven't been on a Freeway in over 5 years. The times I am going somewhere with my dh and he's driving on a freeway don't make me want to get over it either. People do drive crazy on those things. I get anxiety when I'm driving out of my little village, but I have been able to work through that. These are some things that help me:
-I leave plenty of time for myself to get somewhere. That way I don't have the added stress/anxiety of trying to rush
-If I'm not positive how to get somewhere I print out a mapquest so I am totally prepared.
-When I'm driving and I start to feel panicky I start deep breathing and I try to just focus on that.
-I know talking on a cellphone has contributed to accidents, but I sometimes phone a friend when I'm feeling anxious (using a hands off device). It helps me to get my mind of off being afraid and I'm there before I know it!
 
_Almost forgot music. Certain bands and songs make me feel less anxious. Among my favorite anxiety relievers are Pink Floyd and Bob Marley. I like mellow music with words. When I'm really anxious classical and jazz just doesn't distract me enough.

Good luck. Hope this helps.

Post Edited (paniccu) : 10/21/2008 10:49:22 AM (GMT-6)


marthamae
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 10/21/2008 1:26 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks again for all of the recent responses and advice. It's so great to know I am not alone, although I sure wouldn't wish this on anyone.

I drove to work this morning and got fairly panicky, although it was just my thoughts. I didn't pull over or anything. I am fine on side streets...I just get nervous on the busy main streets with several lanes going each way.

Coming home I did much better. I was tired from work and I think too tired to be as hyped up. I also stayed in the right lane and drove about 5 miles under the speed limit. No one honked or anything and just one or two went around me. But going slower made me feel more in control of being able to stop, etc.

I have a real fear of intersections and knowing whether to stop or go through a yellow light. I am afraid I will not time that correctly. Now I have been driving over 30 years and haven't screwed it up once, but suddenly this is a big deal. I just fear that light turning yellow. I sigh with relief when I come up and the light is red or each time I get through a green light. This sounds so silly writing it out.

I do breathe as a calming technique and I do listen to music. That does help a lot.

Meg, it does sound silly (not to make fun of you at all!) to have a panic attack in a bath! But I can totally understand it. If I told my kids I was panicky about driving, they would laugh and laugh. Once after a severe depression...I was afraid to get out of my bed. I was afraid something bad would happen if I did. This only lasted a couple of weeks, fortunately. That one is goofy for sure! :)

hugs to all-

nervymeg
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2721
   Posted 10/21/2008 3:45 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi Marthamae,

Sounds like you did really well today. Kudos to you! Even though we know our fears are a bit irrational, it doesn't make them go away, but recognising them is the first step in getting over them. You are on your way.

I'm not a big fan of intersections either, especially the ones where you make the decision whether to turn across traffic or not. I like the the light or be green or red. None of this "turn with caution" business.

Yes, I'm a bit of a wally for having an attack in the bath.   blush  I usually have my attacks in bed, or while I'm watching telly, when I'm out and about I'm too busy and distracted to have an attack. Strange but true!

Meg


Co-moderator Anxiety/Panic
Panic Attack Survivor
 


stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 10/22/2008 7:24 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Marthamae,
I promised to post a bit on driving anxiety so here goes. devil
1. Take small steps and you will eventually get to your destination -- A lot of people who have a fear of driving simply give up using their car altogether. This is the way to perpetuate your condition, not to heal yourself. If you feel that you're unable to drive, simply use the car for short periods. Either drive around the block, or to the grocery store, or take frequent pit stops to make sure your fear doesn't build up. By doing so, you're conditioning your mind to gradually overcome your fears.

2. Listen to soothing music while you're driving -- Music has great effect on our mood. Find some music that you can relax to and play it while you're driving. It will lower your overall stress levels and your will enjoy your ride more.

3. Take deep breaths -- If you're ever driving and start to experience one of the many symptoms of your phobia (sweating, stomach aches, nausea), take a few deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. Deep breaths steady the heart beat and help you to relax

Think positive thoughts, leaving no room for failure that you “just can’t do this.”

I have a driving phobia too.  I get so  anxious just thinking of driving the freeway system that sometimes I just sit down and cry.  Then I just talk to myself and remind myself that I can do this and I will be alright.
 
Your doing great.  I have no idea why this is one anxiety I cannot get past without loosing sleep worrying about the road trip.
 
Hugs,
Kitt

 

Kitt, Co-Moderator: Anxiety/Panic & Depression
& GERD  Forums
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~
Clickable Link: Anxiety-Panic Resources


marthamae
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 10/22/2008 5:51 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Kitt for all the great ideas. You are really, really kind to take the time to help me.

I thought of you all as I was driving to work today. It helped a lot to know others have gone through (and are going through) the same stuff.

Today as I was going to work my hands starting sweating like crazy. I also started feeling tight in the chest. Of course I recognized this as anxiety and almost laughed at myself. It was surreal...sweating and rolling my eyes at myself at the same time!

This afternoon coming home I was doing fairly well...then my daughter called midway to tell me I had to go get my son at the high school. This was unexpected and is through a high traffic area. So I did it and then went to the grocery. Having my son along distracted me and gave me confidence. By the time I got home I had forgotten the anxiety.

We'll see how I do tomorrow.

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 10/22/2008 8:23 PM (GMT -7)   
The sun will come out tommorow........... you will do wonderful and you will have a lovely day.  That is my wish for you.
Rolling on the highway,  I will be here doing the same.  No Fear!
Love
Kitt
 

Kitt, Co-Moderator: Anxiety/Panic & Depression
& GERD  Forums
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~
Clickable Link: Anxiety-Panic Resources


elpea70
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/9/2008 11:20 PM (GMT -7)   
I, too, am struggling with driving anxiety. It started out about 5 years ago, without warning, as I was driving on the interstate at night. It was so bad it was all I could do to make it to an exit and call someone to come get me. My hands started to sweat and go numb, I shook, I had heart palpitations and I felt like I couldn't control my limbs or my car. I just wanted to drive into the cement wall and get it over with. The next day I was fine. I went for a few years without one, and had another one on the same stretch of highway. I just started avoiding that highway whenever I could. A year ago, I started experiencing them on other highways. I seem to do better if I don't have the cruise control on. opening the windows and finding music to sing to helps to distract me. So does calling someone on the cell phone. Of course staying in the right lane and keeping a comfortable, yet safe speed works. I kept thinking the attacks would go away, but they just seem to happen more frequently. What used to happen only at night on certain roads has expanded to daytime as well. I am still okay driving on a back road. I think it's because I know I can pull over if needed. One thing I will say, is that I think caffeine consumption may not be helping matters. I've cut back, but I may just have to stop drinking my beloved coffee, or try decaf, to see if there's any improvement. I'm really at wits end, and on a whim, decided to search for any information on driving anxiety. I thought I was crazy and alone. I had no idea others are experiencing the same events. I do not have any other professionally diagnosed mental disorders, although I count things and have sleep paralysis ( another story ). My life is good and I'm not really stressed out about much these days. A recent career change has helped in that department.
Good luck, marthamae. Keep us informed on how you're doing dealing with this.

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 11/10/2008 8:52 AM (GMT -7)   
elpea70
 
Hello and welcome to HealingWell.  I am so glad you found our forum.  Thank you for sharing your story.
 
Have you talked with your physician about these panic attacks? There are many different therapies that may help you through the attacks and get rid of them for good.
 
Please don't try to distract yourself using your cell phone. IMHO you need to stay on task and drive safely.  If the panic attack overwhelms you put on your flashers and pull over to the side of the road. Stay in your car and I am sure someone will notify authorities that someone seems to be in trouble.  Be safe. 
We have a forum for new members.........if you would like to share a bit about yourself, please do.
 
I will pull it up to the top.
 
Take care
Kitt 
 

Kitt, Co-Moderator: Anxiety/Panic & Depression
& GERD  Forums
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~
Clickable Link: Anxiety-Panic Resources


marthamae
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 11/10/2008 3:56 PM (GMT -7)   

hi elpea and welcome to healing well,

 

everyone here is so supportive! I hope you'll keep posting. Half of my anxiety is taken away when I realize others have it too and it's not a physical ailment. (Even though I consider anxiety to be physical in the brain disorder sense!).

I am still having some discomfort when driving. I'm just driving to various schools and the malls, etc and not too much on freeways. I'll try anything but my hands get sweaty. I still hate going through intersections where I have a green light and people are waiting to turn left. I'm afraid that light will turn yellow and I won't stop at the appropriate time or they'll turn in front of me.

Like you, I prefer the right lane. I also HATE changing lanes, so I know where I am going and I get into the correct lane early.

I drive around a lot of schools and school parking lots and this adds to my anxiety as the little kids are so unpredictable. So many bikes and crosswalks, etc.

It's funny you mention cruise control because I HATE cruise control. I have a fear it will "take over" the car and it won't stop. I hate it when my husband drives and uses it. It scares me. Crazy. I never use cruise control.

It's amazing how many similar fears we have. It's really interesting.

The good news is that I am willing to drive and still do it. I don't have anticipatory dread like I do if I have to get on an airplane.

I'm a little nervous because my best friend and her husband are coming for a week at Thanksgiving. There are a couple of days when I will be driving them around to and from the airport and to various attractions. (My husband isn't taking the whole week off.) I hope this will go well.

I agree with kitt's advice not to use the cell phone unless you are pulled over. I think that's dangerous, especially if you're already shaky.

 

love to all,

sophie


Howlyncat
Elite Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 11/10/2008 4:16 PM (GMT -7)   
sophie

I USE to have this horrid thing going on with me
I started taking the car down dirt roads and blaring the tunes I
liked so much
Slowly I was able to manouver into small town traffic and from there I am able to drive anywhere

I dont like to drive to much due to opites I am on........

Baby steps

Stay with us ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,LYN
 DX: Crohns,Pyoderma Gangrenosum,Anxiety/Panic,
Fibro & Other DD

Donate at  www.healingwell.com
 
                               Moderator@Alzheimer's..
    CO Moderator @ Anxiety and Panic........Co Moderator   @ Crohns                    
                            ~ FIGHT the FIGHT with all YOU HAVE ~
               Look For The GOOD, Even At Your Lowest
  We Have Anxiety and Panic...................Anxiety and Panic DO NOT Have us         
   
..........LYN

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