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Driving Axiety Getting Worse

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I have a driving problem , everyone I tell about this just looks at me like I'm weird to feel these feelings I'm feeling . I'm 36 and I've been driving since I was 19 , I can remember always feeling a bit shook up whenever I would have to merge onto a highway . I simply accepted that I don't like hw driving , however I was able to do all other kinds of driving and if my good friend was with me I was able to hop on hw and not feel nervous . These enabling feelings went away eventually, from the time I was 29 until I was 33 , I drove the highways everyday for work , with very minimal amount of axiety, I was so proud of myself .It got to the point where nothing made me nervous About driving , I even went to visit a friend several times while it was dark out and raining outside and yes it involved highway driving . However everything has taken a turn for the worse , I lost my father on 12/1/12 due to brain cancer . We were very close , we lived in the same house . Since he has died my driving axiety has not only come back but it has magnified . In the past when I would drive on a highway or parkway my only axiety symtoms were shortness of breathe ( which was bad , sometimes couldn't even get a breathe through) Nowadays I will get this tingling sensation in my legs, a feeling like I'm not really here , I will look at my hand holding the steering wheel and it feels like I'm looking at someone else's hand. Just these past few months I have experienced a new symtoms , I cannot drive up a hill without feeling like my car is slowly falling backwards . Yesterday I did some driving , but it wasn't on a highway it was on a local road that I've driven many times without axiety. This time I was driving around 4:30 when all the rush hour traffic has begun , thank gods my friend was with me because I had to pull over and just started crying . As I was driving I almost felt like I was buzzed on alcohol , but i don't even drink . As I was driving all my mind was doing was thinking , what if that car from behind me doesn't see me stop at the upcoming red light and slams me from behind, what if someone side swiped me. That's when I needed to pull over and I started to cry cause I didn't like how helpless I felt . Also I have a very hard time driving with others as passenger, I will watch them as they are driving and my mind will think , what if they lose consesuous, what if they get a heart attack , and if they dare look down for one second to answer their phone or change the radio my heart will beat very fast . I almost feel like as a passenger in the car, it feels just as nerve racking as being on an amusement park ride that I really don't wanna be on . This problem is so crippling that I'm having a hard time finding work because I know that I cannot commit to a job that requires highway driving , on New Years I didn't go to a family gathering cause it involved highway driving . I've tried very hard to really Analize this problem and I know why I don't like hw driving , it involves feeling claustrophobic, I don't like the feeling that I can't pull over at any second that I want to .I don't like the feeling of speed , it makes me feel that if I were to crash it would be deadly at speeds around 60 or more . My mind will think the worst , and obviously my worst fear is an automobile accident. When I drive locally and during non rush hour times I feel so normal , I have no negative thoughts . Also when I drive on side roads at speeds that I feel comfortable with I feel like I have total control of my car . Sometimes I think maybe nothing is wrong with me cause not everyone enjoys roller coasters and they don't need to seek help, but I know something is deffinetly wrong with me cause no one else from family to friends has this problem
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replied January 4th, 2016
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First of all, give yourself credit for still driving, even if it's not as much as before. Anxiety sucks! Sometimes you just have to say"screw you anxiety!". Driving on the highway can be intimidating, even if you don't have anxiety. I have a fear of driving too. I have been in a few accidents (none my fault) and it stays with you. Also, you mentioned your dad passing away and how it affected your driving. Could it be possible that you need to grieve for him? Holding that in will definitely escalate anxiety. I hope you find answers. Most times, people with anxiety have a control issue. Meaning, we like to be in control. Not being able to pull over on the highway is out of your control, causing anxiety. Maybe what I am saying is obvious to you already. I don't know if I helped at all, but don't be so hard on yourself!
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replied January 5th, 2016
Thankyou For taking the time to respond , I do feel that my fathers passing has triggered the axiety from the past to to resurface, but I don't know why.
Something else that is very strange , whenever I'm in a really relaxed or happy mood the axiety is still there but it's only half as bad , but when I'm feeling sad , frustrated or any other negative emotion than the driving axiety is in full force .
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replied January 6th, 2016
I'm sorry to hear you're having such a hard time with anxiety. Have you ever tried getting professional help or a consultation for it? You might be able to learn some coping strategies or improve your feelings. I hope you're able to figure things out, feel better and participate fully in life!
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