It’s only been in the last few years that I can drive on highways and interstates without significant driving anxiety. For the majority of my adult life however, I had severe highway driving anxiety.
It used to be impossible for me to pass someone on the highway without having a panic attack. I would always stay in the slow lane, and only pass if I absolutely had to. Three lane highways scared the crap out of me, and I avoided them at all cost. Even being a passenger with my husband driving I used to wonder how the heck did he drive into the city and pass other vehicles so calmly?
I got over my driving anxiety by first deciding that driving on highways and interstates was something I wanted to be able to do. I made it a goal. And then I just went out there and practiced. I did the dreaded highway driving and forced myself to pass cars, or stay in the left lane, even if someone was driving behind me. I stayed in my lane even if a big rig tractor trailer was behind me– no easy task at the time.
I continued to stay in my lane, even through panic attacks. I had to feel the fear and do it anyway.
I still don’t relish the thought of driving through or around major cities, but it is tremendously gratifying to know that I can do it if I have to.
The best part about practicing driving on highways over and over and over again is that it has given me such a sense of freedom. because of this, I was able to drive 7 hours to visit my sister in Buffalo when she had emergency surgery last spring.
I can occasionally get anxious when I am in the passing lane, especially with someone riding my tail behind me and no clear break for me to get into the right lane.
A few months ago, I had a flight out of Newark Airport, which is about an hour from where I live. I programmed the long term parking service into my GPS, but for some reason I ended up lost.
It was close to evening rush hour so the traffic was horrendous. I drove around completely lost for about 20 minutes in what seemed like a tangled web of poorly marked highways, all chock full of speeding, tailgating, aggressive drivers. I didn’t actually have a panic attack, but it was very close. My driving anxiety seemed to come flooding back. By the time I made it to the parking service, I was a jittery mess.
I wish it didn’t take me 10 years to finally overcome my major fears about driving. In closing, while I still have my anxious moments in the car, for the most part my driving anxiety is much better. Overall, I am a pretty happy — and calm– driver.
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I wish you peace,