If there is one thing most people don’t know about me is that I have a bit of anxiety. Now before you get all “Real Housewives of New York Aviva Anxiety Syndrome” on me, I will say that my anxiety is towards driving (not planes or high buildings). When my oldest (now 14) was about 6 months old, we were driving down a very busy, 4 lane expressway. It was Christmas Eve and we were going to my mother-in-laws to celebrate the holiday. I don’t exactly remember what happened, but all I do remember was spinning through two lanes (like 360 degree spins) on the expressway and seeing two headlights from an oncoming semi. It was snowing and icy, but by the grace of God (or my guardian angel), we ended up facing the right direction in the little area just before an exit ramp splits off. It was like we were just picked up and placed there ever so gently. After we came to a stop, I remember panicking and throwing the door open to get to my baby who was completely oblivious to what had just happened. I held her for what seemed like an eternity, but it was only a few moments. For some reason, that is the only thing I remember from that day and ever since then, I cannot under any circumstances get on a busy expressway by myself (without another licensed driver).
My parents live 20-25 minutes away when we go the expressway route, but I opt to take the long route and would rather sit at a million stop lights if it means I don’t have to drive on the expressway. When going to my mother-in-laws, my husband has to drive (it’s an hour away). If I have to go anywhere…someone else has to drive. Long far away baseball tournaments, have me with the sweats the night before. If that off chance that I am the one driving, I have to do a lot of internal power talking. I sometimes have to blast the air (even if it’s cold outside) and point it to my face because I am sweating with fear. Sometimes I have to drive slow (or I should say, the speed limit) in the right lane and stay behind another car. This fear has limited a lot of activity for me. I’ve noticed that as I get older and the less I am out on the road, I might be sitting in the intersection waiting to turn and feel a rush of emotions as I see and feel the cars whip past me. This post traumatic stress disorder has been far from fun to live with. The thing that now scares me is that in 18 (or so) short months, my daughter will be driving. From that little tiny passenger in the back seat to the one handling the car…I can feel my blood pressure building as I type. She knows and understands that I cannot drive the expressway and she knows whats happening to mom when the air suddenly gets blasted, I just hope my freaky-anxiety-post-traumatic-stress doesn’t freak her out and make her scared to drive the big roads.
I’m not sure if this is genetic (though I know anxiety runs in my moms family so if it is, I understand why now) but I certainly hope it is a trait I do not pass on to any of my children. When I get older, I am going to have to hire a driver and drive me around like Driving Miss Daisy!
Do you have anxiety while driving or any other anxious moments? Do you know what/how it is triggered for you? What calms you or gets you through the panicking fearing moments? I’d love to hear your stories.