Driving Anxiety

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.

4 Replies to “Driving Anxiety”

  1. I totally get this. I hate driving, but I have to commute to work. By the time the 45 minute drive is over I’m too mentally exhausted and it takes me while to relax and actually dive in to what I need to do. A few months ago I was involved in a hit and run; the jerk completely ran the stop sign, hit me, and drove off. Now every stop sign or intersection makes my heart race and I get stabbing pains in my stomach. But we have to keep on keeping on.

    I am also considering buying a dash cam, not sure if it will make me more paranoid or not😋

    Like

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