Anxiety Diaries: Learning How to Drive Again


If you suffer from anxiety or panic attack disorder, you are currently nodding your head at this quote. Truer words have never been spoken.

The root of all evil in my life is my imagination. My brain likes to talk to me when I’m trying to do normal things that humans can do, and it tricks me into thinking if I concentrate hard enough, I will cause my heart to stop beating. I will be the first person in existence to let her imagination literally kill her.

So that’s fun.

Great way to start off my Anxiety Diaries update.

When I got my very first real panic attack, I was behind the wheel. It was horrifying. I had never experienced anything like it before and I will never forget the pure terror I felt. Unfortunately, that kind of thing sticks with you. It makes driving difficult.

While driving is not easy, I have managed to learn how to drive again. I have to trick myself and I can only drive down certain streets and I go way out of my way so I can try to avoid turning left at stoplights and hopefully prevent myself from ever going on the freeway or over the bridge.

I would say I mange it without any major episodes about half the time. The other half I am just trying to get home. There is a stretch of road near my house where there is a wall on either side of the street, so no escaping. I just speed up that road and hope a copper doesn’t catch me. The whole “flight or fight” thing is no joke. I just need to know I can pull over and get away from where I am if I need to. It’s another reason I can’t drive on the freeway yet.

My biggest enemies while behind the wheel are:

  • Stoplights where I have to wait a long time or turn left.
  • Getting stuck behind the train at a stoplight.
  • Freeways.
  • Driving next to walls.
  • Bridges.
  • Traffic.

Other than that, I seem to be doing okay. I don’t drive far and I play all sorts of tricks on myself. I count backwards from 100, shout “NO!” like my mom taught me, pretend I’m just casually listening to the radio, or I sing really loud and terrible so I am more concentrated on my embarrassment.

It is easier than walking because you can get a lot farther when you’re driving. I have had to run up hills more than once carrying 50 lbs of grocery bags due to severe panic, and it’s not fun.

While driving still has its challenges, I would say my panic disorder overall is improving slightly. I don’t have the frequency of panic attacks that I used to, though they have not left completely. They’re just different now.

The biggest trigger for a panic attack is a panic attack (it’s as stupid as it sounds), so I just hope my next one isn’t for a while. Otherwise it’s back to holding onto the steering wheel so tight my hand has gone numb.

Happy Panicking!


3 thoughts on “Anxiety Diaries: Learning How to Drive Again

  1. Yep unfortunately I can relate the more stress you remove from your life the better of course that’s easy to say when I can only function with my meds but when you feel that panic attack come on you’ll notice your holding your breath DON’T breathe nice deep breaths and if your concentrating on that you can’t concentrate on the panic

  2. having panic attacks as triggers for panic attacks is not stupid, i have the same 🙂 i had a really bad panic attack while driving mid last year and i couldnt drive for ages but im ok now mostly. I can relate to you hacing difficulty with stop lights, i am fine drivng but if i get stuck at lights or in heavy traffic i get very anxious. Good on you for getting behind the wheel, its difficult but so worth it. We tend to keep away from things that make us anxious but heading towards them is the only way to beat it, so you’re on the right track! I forced myself to drive everyday, even if it was just around the block or to the corner store, and it made a huge difference to my anxiety while driving over a short time. I won’t say good luck because luck doesn’t come into it but I’ll say good job!

  3. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up Vol. 1 // Friends, Pinterest, Bubble Baths | It's a Jenn Thing

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