Living with driving anxiety can make life miserable. It certainly made mine that way…for years! I absolutely hated it.
The other day, I was looking back (none too fondly, either) on all the ways I used to suffer when I drove. Here are the top 10 things I (used to) absolutely, utterly hate about living with driving anxiety:
What I Hated Most About Living With Driving Anxiety
- Inability to travel — This was easily the worst part of living with driving anxiety for me. I love to travel, see new places and have new experiences. I also love traveling with my children…well, maybe not so much the driving part, but I love the rest of it. 🙂 I couldn’t do any road trips for years when my driving anxiety was at its worst, and it was so frustrating!
- Driving with passengers — It’s odd I hated having passengers in the car given how much I enjoy going places with my kids. It’s a bizarre contradiction and I still have problems with this occasionally. But most of my discomfort was when I drove adult passengers. I felt like I was being watched and/or judged by them, even close friends. This symptom made me feel even more isolated and alone in my driving phobia.
- Physical symptoms of panic attacks — I used to sweat heavily, my heart would race and I’d get a pounding headache. I’d also tremble and my hands would get clammy. Maybe that’s part of why I hated having passengers; I didn’t want anyone to see me turn into a trembling, sweaty, hyperventilating mess.
- Stopping for red lights — I didn’t like driving in traffic, partly because traffic means lots of other cars back up behind you at red lights. I couldn’t stand having people behind me. I’d imagine they were looking at me, judging me, or about to get angry. I’ve since realized this was more about my untreated social anxiety than about driving anxiety, but traffic lights were a big part of what I hated about living with driving anxiety.
- Loud noises / getting startled — Let’s face it, driving is often a loud activity. Traffic noise, car stereos, honking horns, road construction — there’s a lot of auditory overload on the streets. I’m pretty sensitive to sound, and a sudden blast of a car horn or a blaring stereo could send me right through the roof. I was on edge anyway just from being in the car. A sudden loud noise made me feel like I was going to jump out of my skin. I’ve since realized that I was suffering from hypersensitivity anxiety, which was part of living with my driving anxiety.
- Feeling trapped — Similar to the red light thing, I had an overall sense of being trapped whenever I was in the car. I felt like a cornered animal most of the time. This would even happen driving on the highway sometimes, with no other cars anywhere near me. Something about being inside the car itself gave me the creeps. This was because of the hidden connection between agoraphobia and driving.
- Passing other vehicles — Passing wasn’t my favorite thing. It wasn’t my worst driving anxiety symptom, but I wasn’t crazy about it. I’d stay behind a lot of slow drivers, even when I had lots of room to get around them. Passing was the worst for me when I was driving on the freeway.
- Feeling different from other people — This basically came down anxiety and shame. Why was this happening to me? Why could other people drive calmly and freely when it was so traumatic for me? What was wrong with me? I’d berate myself for living with driving anxiety in the first place, which of course only made it worse.
- Feeling overloaded / overwhelmed — I clearly remember the feeling of “too-muchness” I’d have when driving. It was a basic sense of overload. Everything seemed to be too loud, too bright, and moving too fast. It felt like too much to handle emotionally sometimes, and other times it seemed more of a physical thing. It’s like trying to process too much sensory input without quite being able to do it.
- Lack of resources — Part of the reason I created the Driving Peace program was due to the lack of self-help resources specifically for people living with driving anxiety. Sure, there was lots of material about social anxiety, general anxiety, panic disorder, etc., but almost nothing (except the Driving Fear program) to help people overcome their driving anxiety. And it’s still pretty bleak out there, in my opinion. Despite the enormous amount of material on the Internet for anxiety in general, there are still few comprehensive self-help programs that treat living with driving anxiety effectively.
If you hate living with driving anxiety like I used to, and if you’re tired of the hold in has over your life, click here to get the Driving Peace program now. It’s much more pleasant to look back on the things you used to hate about living with driving anxiety than it is to actually hate them every day. Life is much better on this side of it — the side where it’s finally over. Driving Peace offers a real, effective means for change. If I can do it, you can too!
PS – Please let us all know what you hate most about living with driving anxiety in the comments section below.