Not too long ago my husband and I were living in the city – as an anxious person, this always caused more stress than needed. Driving was the worst part for me, so much congestion and no one following the fundamental laws made my heart palpitate. I would find myself cringing at the fact of needing to drive. At a certain point, I decided to sell my car and rely solely on transportation. When I mentioned this to a friend one day all she could say was “Oh, that’s bad.”
In the end, city living wasn’t for us, and we decided to move out to the suburbs. I took what she said to heart and needed to get over my anxiety of driving. Driving in the suburbs was a little easier, but a lot of people still don’t follow the laws. The most significant issues that we have are slow drivers (I’m talking 5km/h) and drivers who do not use their signals to switch lanes. I usually find myself doing the majority of my breathing exercises in my car. They help, sometimes.
On June 12th, two minutes away from my house I encountered a driver that made me incredibly anxious. He was two clicks ahead of me and was going so incredibly slow that I had to slam on my breaks at 20km/h. I had a quick decision to make, cause significant damage to the front end of my car or cause minimal damage by shifting my car into the left-hand lane. I chose the latter, and all parties pulled off to the side to put their four ways on. I immediately jumped out of my car to give this person a piece of my mind (Thanks, Adrenaline!) but as soon as he saw me walking over to his car, he pulled his window back up and just took off. Appalled, I called up my husband immediately to start naming off his license plate number. In retrospect, I know that wasn’t the best idea, but I was livid about this accident and wasn’t thinking straight. My whole body was in shock and started to shake as I dialed 911 – the woman on the other end tried to calm me down as I explained what just happened but I just couldn’t. I exchanged all information that I could with this woman, took pictures of everything, and saved the tears until I buckled up to drive home.
When I entered my house, my legs gave out on me, and the humidity outside turned my body red. I dropped to the floor as a tightness in my chest began – my breath was slowly dissipating. I managed to grab my inhaler in my bag through the gasps of breaths. I was on the verge of a panic attack, and I needed to calm down. As I laid on the hardwood floor, the whole scenario flashed before my eyes again. How could he just take off like that?
I immediately called my insurance to relay all the information that I could – Unfortunately, my husband was working and couldn’t grab the entirety of the license plate for me, but I did send him in a panic through my cries over the phone (sorry!). Due to the nature of what happened, I am considered at fault for this accident. I gulped down the information as best as I could, kicking myself over the fact that I didn’t grab that plate number. This is my first accident as a driver, and I guess you can say that I learned my lesson on how to react if it ever happens again.
I won’t let this affect me driving, though. Facing my fear is the only way I can tackle this anxiety head-on. I could easily say I will never drive again but “oh, that’s bad” will keep repeating in my head over and over. All I ask is for everyone to be safe out there, please drive the speed limit and always put on your signal when switching lanes.