Car Anxiety

Car anxiety or driving anxiety?

I know it sounds weird. Trust me it’s weird to say it let alone deal with it every time I get into my car. I am an excellent driver. No brag, and I love driving.

Well at least until about three years ago I loved driving. Now it’s a constant reminder that I am anxious behind the wheel. I live in fear of the worst case scenario, what could happen if I have a panic attack on the road. It’s one of the reasons I don’t leave my house much, and when I do I always take extra Ativan with me.

My anxiety & social anxiety is always an issue. When I leave my house I am 9/10 already dealing with anxiety. The worst is when the anxiety is intensified. I feel outside my body and very panicky.

I used to be able to drive anywhere and one of my places of solace was behind the wheel. I could be at total peace with the road in front of me driving for hours on end.

But that changed, I am guessing about three years ago. I don’t know why I love driving. Traveling in my car was something I could do without question. Just being behind the wheel made me feel alive. I would drive for hours just because I could.

Give me some good music, the open road and I could drive for days.

Looking back I think it started after my last suicide attempt in 2010. I have chronicled the fact that after this suicide attempt I had really bad seizures and I was told I could no longer drive a car for at least a year.

It was close to three years before I even sat behind the wheel again. When I started driving again it was over time that I started leaving my house again. Then my social anxiety makes the decision to worsen after my psychiatrist decided to lower my Ativan dosage.

Then last year I signed up to drive for Uber. I got a car and everything, and then a few weeks in I had a panic attack with a customer in the car with me. It wasn’t a super bad one but it scared me. I never thought I could have a panic attack while driving.

Since then it has happened a few times to a point where I would have to pull my car over just to get back into control. Other times I would be down the road my house only to turn around again and have to go back.

I fear driving now because it is always possible that my anxiety could trigger a panic attack especially now when my anxiety being at high levels.

This time of the year is so tough to work through because I have so much going on. At the same time, my anxiety and depression are playing tug-of-war with my soul.

It’s just another thing I am noticing as I continue to write about my life. Driving used to be a place of solace in my life, but now it’s just another place I don’t feel safe with my anxiety.

What sucks about my driving anxiety is that I have so many plans for 2018. I am going to Vegas after I graduate, I am going to my brother’s wedding, and I might even decide to go and walk with my class for graduation. I have so much to do, and not being able to leave my house will be my biggest fear moving forward.

I am curious. Do any of my fellow bloggers deal with driving anxiety? What do you do to combat it?

Always Keep Fighting.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Mark Cruz

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55 Replies to “Car Anxiety”

  1. I have driving anxity when anyone except me is in the drivers seat. In my head I spend the whole ride screaming slow down, don’t look at your phone, you suck and eating and driving so please don’t. I’m going to puke! If you take a corner like that we are going to crash and die!!! I feel much more at ease when I am driving myself. But I was reminded that even I am not the safest driver but trusted. I have a friend who has so much driving anxiety she refuses to get her license and will have a panic attack if you do anything ‘extra’ while driving. It was a good reminder that it’s important to focus completely while driving weather or not someone else is in the car with me. I have had fear from time to time because of my physical health. I was passing out for a while regularly because of my diabetes. During that time I refused to let myself drive. Now I make sure that I always have snack in my car for my blood sugar. That I turn my phone to do not disturb so I am not tempted to look at it, and always put on peaceful music, unless I am trying to find a new location then no music because for some reason sounds keep me from properly following directions. lol

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for sharing this with me. For you it seems to vary. I have a system that seems to work okay. I always have water and my Ativan close by, just in case.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am learning deliverance ministry. I knew nothing of it until God enlightened me this weekend whilst sick with a cold. I am not an expert by ANY MEANS, and the glory GOES TO GOD AND JESUS. I believe you may have picked up a demon before or during your suicide attempt. Please consider going to a reliable pastor and Godspeed!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like @letstalkdepression I get driving anxiety when I am the passenger, but like you mentioned, I love driving too. I don’t know if this makes my anxiety in the car with another driver worse because I am more aware of what’s going on (plus as someone with dyspraxia I pick up on so much visual and audio input), but what I usually try to do, as passenger, is pretend I’m not there. I also suffer from travel sickness so it’s a good excuse to go to sleep during journeys, or put in some headphones with good music and imagine myself away somewhere else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t sit as a passenger for very long. I don’t know what to do with myself. I can listen to music. I can never sleep in a car, so I prefer to be the driver.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear you, car travel can be tricky. My car sleeps was something I forced myself to do during long journeys when I was a kid, but it won’t work for everyone I can totally appreciate that. Hope you find something which works for you to help make car anxiety easier!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have horrible anxiety driving too, especially more than a few minutes from home. Going on the interstate is out of the question nowadays. I couldn’t deal with that at all. Even being a passenger on the interstate wigs me out.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I deal with it big time, on and off for at least the last 7 years. I wrote a post about it a while back. I haven’t driven in over a year and rely on my husband to drive me to some appointments, which I don’t like. I want to be able to drive myself places again. It’s bad enough to have to leave the house, though, because of anxiety. But I’m taking small steps and walking the dog and to nearby appointments. But the thought of driving to my appointments that are farther away is terrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can relate to having to drive to appointments with others driving me. I always hated I because I felt useless. It’s good that you are taking the little steps to try and change the narrative.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I deal with this too, unfortunately. Usually when I have someone I’m comfortable with in the car with me I’m okay no matter where we are going. But when I’m driving by myself I feel very limited. I don’t understand why this is happening for me, because I didn’t have anything traumatic happen to me while driving. I used to love driving, it was relaxing for me. Now any drive that’s longer than maybe 10-15 minutes freaks me out. Expressways are totally out of the picture for me. But if I do feel a panic attack coming one, I try and slow my breathing down. Inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth. I also always remind myself I can pull over if I really need to. Some days are worse than others. I realize when I’m really tired, or have had some type of caffeine that makes it worse for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing this, it means a lot to know that I am not alone in this. It was the same for me, I have no idea the cause of my car anxiety. It was as if it was just there one day. It sucks some days because I’d love to just drive to the beach but I have to limit how much I actually drive. It’s usually short trips like to my favorite coffee shop or to an appointment. I feel trapped not being able to drive more than that right now.

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      1. I understand, I don’t like the trapped feeling either, it makes me feel worse than I already do. I noticed it comes with an advantage though, because since I don’t like going too far on my own, that gives me a reason to ask a friend or family member to go with me. That way I get to do something I like and I get to spend some time with a friend/family member. It makes me feel better & less isolated.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That’s a great point. I do that too just so I have someone in the car. I have never had a panic attack with someone in the car. It’s better when you can talk through anxiety and panic attacks.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve had driving anxiety for at least 10 years now. When I first got my license and wheels, I was jumping for joy and SO excited. Driving equaled freedom. No longer having to depend on my parents to go anywhere. Windows down, music up…..it was awesome! I had anxiety when I was younger related to other things. It would get to the point where if I allowed myself to become overwhelmed internally, I would physically pass out. My brain shuts my body down and says, “nope, we’re not doing this, let’s re-set.” It is quite possibly one of the scariest experiences a person can go through. Now that I’m older, I can feel the symptoms of a panic attack rising, and am more aware of the signals my body gives off. I haven’t fainted in a very long time. One day, I had a random panic attack while driving. My thoughts started to race, imagining every worse case scenario of what could happen to me while driving. Once that chain of thoughts begins…it is extremely difficult to stop. Plus, the fact that I KNOW for a fact that I will pass out if it gets bad…only adds fuel to my anxiety fire. So. I avoid highways/interstates like the plague. If there is a back way, I will always take that route. If not, I try and find a ride. Last resort, I too always travel with meds…just in case. Just knowing I have it makes me feel better. What I have never done, and never will do though – is let the anxiety win, and stop me from what I want to do. I’ve gotta live my life. Good luck to you, I fully understand and relate to how difficult it can be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t agree more, we can’t let anxiety win. That is one of my goals for this year and into the New Year. Make time to finally get my anxiety under control. Thank you for sharing a small piece of your life with me and my blog. It means the world to know I am not alone in this.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t often get anxious while driving but I do worry I’m a bit of a menace on the road sometimes. When my thinking is really foggy I find driving to be very overstimulating, so I have to consciously make myself sit back and let my brain’s autopilot take over. Autopilot is often more effective for me than conscious depressed brain, scary as that may sound.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I didn’t get my license until I was in my 30’s because of it. I still don’t like driving on the freeway/in traffic but luckily where I live now I don’t have to much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I live in A rural area outside a small city in California, so I have to drive to get everywhere. I actually was supposed to get my license at 16 like most people but when I was 15 I was in a major accident (not driving) so it was a while after that I felt comfortable to get my license. But for so long I loved driving.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve never been able to learn. I start getting panic attacks when I am confronted with just the concept of learning to drive at this point. It’s on my get my shit together list for next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I also have driving anxiety. I was in a car accident about 3 years ago and now I hate driving. I refuse to drive and I can have a panic attack at any moment when I’m in the car. It got to a point

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Where I hated leaving my house! Thanks for sharing your story! It helps to know I’m not alone. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I know that feeling, I was in a really bad accident at 15 and it kept me from driving for two years when I finally got over it and got my license. After that, I loved driving.

      Like

  12. YES YES YES! I was terrified to learn to drive when I was sixteen and didn’t get my license until I was nineteen. I am now thirty-two and STILL cannot drive on the Interstate. There is a short (approximately 1 mile stretch) that I take to get from the suburbs to the city of Pittsburgh but that’s as far as I’ll go. My husband does all the Interstate driving anywhere else. That’s embarrassing but true. I have had such bad panic attacks driving on highways that I can’t see through my tears and can’t concentrate to focus. All I can think to do is slam on the brakes and pull over. It’s terrible. And terrifying.
    Driving in residential/suburban areas is much better than it used to be, but if I’m late or having a really bad day and get lost, all I can do is pull over and cry. I hate it! I’ve actually missed appointments and avoided going to places (like writing events) because of this. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your own experience. I am glad this subject was well received today because I was feeling alone about it and not being able to drive bums me out.

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  13. At times. Mine seems to be higher with I have certain passengers with me. They make me anxious. I used to drive more. It was a huge part of my job and it didn’t matter to where. I don’t know how you feel about this, but I pray as soon as I turn my switch until my anxiety is under control. (Sometimes it’s a while, others not) If my anxiety heights I pray for help again. I also listen to certain stations on the radio or a calming CD. It’s a struggle at times, and “city” driving is the worst for me. But it’s better than it was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing a piece of your experience. I do believe in the power or prayer and it’s probably something I don’t do enough of in my life. It’s great to feel not so much alone anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Wonderful post. I’ve been living in NYC for a year, so I rarely ever drive anymore. However, when I was living in Connecticut, I was constantly petrified of getting in a car- be it behind the wheel or as a passenger. It stems from the 2 car accidents I have been in, both not super detrimental, but bad enough to shake me to my core. I didn’t trust myself, or anyone else on the road for that matter. Something that would help me cope with driving is making sure that I stayed focused on my breathing. Your breath is a HUGE thing that is tied in with anxiety/anxiety attacks (at least it is for me). Make sure to keep a steady paced breath, and if you’re feeling very anxious, remember to bring your focus back to your breath. Another thing, is maybe play a relaxing music station (Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, all have really great stations for this). I know how hard it can be, but there are little changes that you could make might a huge difference over time. Remember- it’s just baby steps, one at a time. Before you know it, you will have gone miles away from where you used to be. -namaste-

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do focus on my breathing! That is really good advice and something I can do, and I do it before and during driving, to help me get through. I always listen to music that I love when I drive. I really can’t drive without music. Thank you for sharing a piece of your life with my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Keep your goals in mind 🙂 You’ll get there! I believe you can do it.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Huge trigger for me… I hate it when the tires sound different when the pavement changes… I start freaking out and think something is wrong with my tires…and of course we know that there is…. So I blast music the whole time.. People hate riding with me.. Works for me though…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always use load music to drown out the sounds of the road and to keep my mind from racing too much while I drive. It’s a great way to get through things. Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I recently started getting anxiety on the road after having a panic attack while driving (about two weeks ago). Now every time I get in the car I think about it and worry it is going to happen again. I am so glad this post popped up, because we have the exact same issues! Now I carry an Ativan with me whenever I hop in the car, too. I’ve started listening to stand-up comedy while driving and it seems to help divert my attention away from the worries. I also carry a couple of my favorite essential oils with me, because for whatever reason certain scent seems to remind me that I am safe and there is no need to worry. Hopefully we can get past this. Take it easy, and thank you for sharing! It is always nice to know you are not alone 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really like the of listening to stand up comedy. I really hate the not being able to drive without anxiety. Even today for about fifteen minutes I was a mess. I got through my driving and I was okay outside my car. It’s weird a place that used to bring me solace. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

      Like

  17. This is where I suffered panic attacks too, as you probably read in my blog. Thankfully they rarely occur now although I wont drive more than a few miles out of my comfort zone anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Car anxiety is a tough thing for me as well. I don’t drive out of my comfort zone either but I still struggle with it. I am not sure the cause anymore it’s just hard to get through. Thank you for sharing.

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  18. My mom, sister, good friend, and I all have various degrees of driving anxiety actually! Mine is only when I’m suddenly encountered with roller coaster looking highway, like a crazy merge situation or on/off ramp. I’m dealing with it by taking herbal anti-anxiety tinctures before driving and also GABA. I just wrote a post about anti-anxiety helpers if you are interested: http://botanicalalchemyandapothecary.com/nervines-and-other-natural-help-for-stress-and-anxiety

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I do not have anxiety at this level, but when I’m in a low spot with depression, I’m often very nervous behind the wheel. Like you said, thinking of all the worst things that could happen. I have no advice, but I am sorry your battle is such a hard one.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely. I remember specifically being on a long drive with my younger brother, every single bridge we crossed I was certain we would drive off, flip, whatever. And it wasn’t just big bridges. Every tiny creek or anything was scarey

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi, I know exactly how you’re feeling. I was so excited to pass my test, and was driving around for two years before one day, completely inexplicably, I had a panic attack on the way to work, to the point I couldn’t even drive the last half a mile to get there. Since then, and that was about 5 years ago, I have probably driven 100 miles. Every time I get behind the wheel, I feel like I’m going to have a panic attack, and it’s been so long now since I’ve driven alone I don’t think I’d have the confidence to do it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is rough going. I have found lately that I am generally okay when I am driving with a passenger but it’s still a struggle to drive by myself. I have changed my routine before I leave my house. More mindfulness breathing and trying to challenge the thoughts that come into my mind before I leave the house (CBT).

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  21. I didn’t even get my license until I was 25! I too have anxiety as soon as I walk out the front door, and as far back as I can remember. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t anxious. Panic set inif a siren goes off when I am driving. I’m sweating just thinking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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