I have a Driving Phobia…
This is a new thing. I have been driving since I was 17 and had passed my test before I turned 18, so I have in actual fact been a fairly competent driver for around 33 years. I also have a motorcycle license which I passed at age 17 so I am not a stranger to the roads. I am now working on overcoming this because I actually used to like to drive, and could drive anywhere and anything. I decided to write a blog documenting my progress, for myself and also for other people who may be experiencing a similar situation. Talking to people recently has made me realise how common a level of fear is for people who drive so I am not alone in this situation.
The answer is I don’t really know. I have had a couple of very uncomfortable experiences whilst driving on busy roads, particularly unfamiliar roads, tunnels and bridges. I had a nasty experience on a motorway once. My VW camper caught fire under my seat whilst I was driving it. But at the time I moved past these things and just carried on. I have had about 18 months of acute stress: 2 deaths, got married, moved house on top of the usual stuff we all have to deal with from time to time like financial issues and so on. Having done a lot of reading around the subject, I feel that my heightened anxiety with driving may well be a response to the general anxiety in other areas of life, coupled with a bit of depression related anxiety (which I am being treated for). All of the stuff I have read seems to agree on 2 things: 1. I should not avoid driving and 2. The cause is not as important as how you deal with the actual problem.
My avoidance of motorways has just made matters worse and left me in a position where I am now unable to drive on certain busy A roads, notably the A303 which I now also avoid. The only upshot of avoiding the A303 has been that the fear has transferred onto other busy roads including the Glastonbury bypass which I was traveling on daily until recently. Even a journey along the Street Road this morning produced feelings of nervousness and fear on a journey which I have done many times without even thinking about it. This is not good, and cannot be allowed to continue. Not only is it inhibiting me in terms of leisure activities it is also severely hampering my employment prospects anywhere that is not within walking distance of my house!!
I have been reading a book which is all about basic Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and I plan to gradually move towards more adventurous driving. This involves keeping a record of your anticipated and actual fear levels, a log of roads and other bits and pieces you don’t like and ticking each time you do it. Eventually what you already know rationally becomes part of your subconscious and you stop feeling the physical symptom of fear each time you drive.
This morning I drove on 2 roads I don’t enjoy. My anticipated fear of both of these were 6/10. My experienced fear was 4/10 so objectively and subjectively neither were as bad as I had anticipated. On one road I had an anticipated fear of 2/10 and the actual score was zero. I also have 3 ticks in my road log proving that I can overcome this!
If you are experiencing similar things I’d love to hear from you.