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Fear of driving

(19 Posts)
Myusernameismud Sun 17-Mar-19 08:37:13

Posted here more for traffic really.

Back story-I grew up in London and, as such, never bothered learning to drive. I could get everywhere I needed to easily on trains/buses/tube. Moved to Kent when I was 21 with baby DD, to a town with great rail links and OK buses. DSis lived round the corner so would take me to do a big shop etc, although eventually I shopped online because it was easier.

Just over 3 years ago, I decided I'd bite the bullet and take some driving lessons. My DDad was very ill with cancer, and I thought maybe it was wise to start driving so if something happened during the night, I could get there easily.
To my astonishment, I loved it. I've always been a nervous passenger, so I think maybe being in control was what I needed. Had a bunch of lessons, passed my theory test and then started to talk about taking my test.

And then my dad died, a lot sooner than we expected, so I had a few weeks off to help mum sort out the funeral, and to grieve of course.

I had another lesson about 2 weeks after dad's funeral, and felt really jittery and shaky the whole time. I had a bit of a scare with a bloody ocado van that came tearing round a blind bend, and while I would have been OK before, this time it shook me up in such a way that I couldn't stop myself crying.

And that was it, I never had another lesson with that instructor again. I tried another instructor, but just didn't gel with him at all and he seemed less understanding about my anxieties around driving. So I stopped altogether.

3 years later, we now live very rurally and while I manage day to day, DS and I both have appts coming up at a hospital there is no easy public transport route to. It's just under 3 hrs on buses, compared to a 50 minute drive. They will both be regular weekly appts and I need to start driving soon. But I just can't. Even typing this post I'm crying because the thought of it is overwhelming. There's no logic to it, I don't know anyone who's died in a car accident, and it seems to have been triggered by my dad dying of cancer hmm

AIBU to think I can ever get over this fear?
Has anyone successfully got over a real fear of driving? And I don't mean just not liking it, I mean actually shaking everytime you get behind the wheel. I'm still a nervous passenger, more so now I think. But I need to get it sorted and soon.

PersonaNonGarter Sun 17-Mar-19 08:38:55

Aw, you can do it!

You need to do a bit of CBT about controlling your nerves, but you will get through this.

AliceAbsolum Sun 17-Mar-19 08:39:58

CBT Google iapt. You'll get there smile

PositiveVibez Sun 17-Mar-19 08:41:36

Go with a female instructor. It made a hell of a difference for me.

PositivelyPeach Sun 17-Mar-19 08:45:58

You can do it. Getting over the fear is hard, but achievable.

Most important thing is you need an instructor that you gel with. I had three different instructors before I found one who gave me the confidence that I needed.

Learning to drive is scary, But think how much easier it will make your life when you pass. That's an enormous motivator.

LiGlitterBug Sun 17-Mar-19 09:23:50

There are instructors who specialise in anxious pupils or those with special/additional needs. They tends to have a wider range of techniques to help. Might be worth seeing if you have any local to you?

Myusernameismud Sun 17-Mar-19 12:17:13

Well I just went out with DH in the car, DH was kind and patient and reassuring and still I couldn't do it. We went to a nice quiet road, barely any traffic, no hills or roundabouts. I sat in the drivers seat, adjusted my mirrors, started the car and had to turn it off again, then got out and threw up at the side of the road.

It's become such an issue and I'm cross at myself for giving up when I was doing so well. I'd driven on a bloody dual carriageway and everything. There is no genuine reason why I'm so phobic about it now. It's totally irrational.

I think it's gone beyond the point where a reassuring instructor is going to help. I'm genuinely contemplating hypnotherapy, but I don't know whether it's actually proven to work. I'd hate to waste all that money and it have no effect.

YahBasic Sun 17-Mar-19 12:21:34

I’m exactly the same, it’s been 10 years since I passed my test and I have driven maybe 10 times if that.

I want to start trying again, probably in a couple of months when we move to a more rural town. Following to see if there are any hypnotherapy recommendations.

Myusernameismud Sun 17-Mar-19 12:26:29

It's horrible isn't it? DH is really trying to understand, he said to write down the things I'm worried about and we'll deal with them one by one. But I can't, because I don't know what it is that's worrying me.
There's a part of me that thinks it's an association thing, the last time I had a full driving lesson the stupid ocado van shit me up and I couldn't calm myself down again. I was in a really shitty place, I had just lost DDad and maybe my brain just associates driving with that time in my life? I don't know, but I know that no amount of reassurance and supportive words from DH have helped so far.

mondaysaturday Sun 17-Mar-19 12:31:51

It's not quite the same but I was in a car accident when I was young and I was too scared to learn to drive until my 30's.

It took me a really long time to get over it. A good instructor makes a huge difference but that won't help if even the act of getting behind the wheel is upsetting you. It sounds like you might benefit from some kind of counselling since this does all seem to be tied up with a very traumatic event in your life.

As for getting started, you could try going to an empty car park at 6am on a Sunday morning or somewhere else that's virtually guaranteed not to have other cars around. And just set yourself a tiny goal each time.

Like "today I'm going to turn the engine on and just sit in the driver's seat. Nothing else."

Then next time, "I'll turn the engine on and get into first gear but I don't have to move off."

Then work up to other small goals like "I'll drive a few feet in first gear in a deserted car park". Then make it to the length of the car park. And so on until eventually you feel ready to move on to a deserted country road, etc etc.

Baby steps. Everything you do is still a step in the right direction, there's no rush and nothing wrong with just taking your time and working up gradually.

Nomorepies Sun 17-Mar-19 12:49:35

OP have you thought about trying hypnotherapy? Works really well for anxiety and after a few sessions you might be feeling really calm about driving and be able to do it. It’s not weird, you’re in control and can move your body etc. They can’t make you do anything you don’t want to, but if you really want to drive and just want to overcome the fear, they can help by just putting the idea that it’s nothing to be afraid of into your subconscious.

Have a look online for a therapist in your area, they can work on all kinds of habits and anxieties. Really hope you can get driving, sounds like you were so close before and it’ll make such a difference to your life being rural.

You got this!

Myusernameismud Sun 17-Mar-19 14:05:03

Thanks monday, that sounds like the kind of strategy I need, although I wish I didn't have the pressure of time. Maybe that's contributing to it as well.

Nomo funny enough, there's a hypnotherapist living down the road from me, he has therapy rooms in town and a consultation is only £20 so I figured I'd go and see him anyway, to get an idea of whether it could work for me. I think I'm ahead of the game in that I'm fairly certain I already know what the issue is, I just need to work out how to associate driving with something pleasant and good, instead of with something traumatic. Although DDad had cancer, his death was unexpected because we thought he had much more time, and the shock of it just floored me.

L1989 Sun 17-Mar-19 14:11:21

I think mondaysaturdays advice is brilliant and exactly what I was thinking, small (even tiny) steps would be a great starting point. X

Elbbob Sun 17-Mar-19 20:12:01

I am offering empathy but can't offer any constructive advice sorry! I passed my test 20 years ago, never drove, had 10 lessons 18 months ago and just cannot do it. Such a waste of money and I'm desperate to drive. Living in London doesn't help but other people manage it i just cannot get past the terror and anxiety so can't get behind the wheel. Really need to drive for various reasons though. I tried hypnotherapy last year but it didn't help, I wasn't convinced by it at all but I think that's more because the therapists techniques didn't work for me. Good luck.

Subeccoo Sun 17-Mar-19 20:30:40

I went to a hypnotherapist who did two sessions of BWRT for me. Best thing I ever did, you will not regret it.

Nomorepies Sun 17-Mar-19 21:16:58

OP Im sure hypno would really help, give it a try. I was skeptical too but my hypnotherapist is great. You might need a couple of sessions or just one/ everyone is different. But the main factor is that you’re open to it and genuinely want to drive and not be scared- then it should work.

Rooting for you!

SqueakyPigs Sun 17-Mar-19 21:23:47

OP, I’ve had similar. Passed my test with no minors but couldn’t drive without getting so anxious I felt like I was going to pass out. Some nights after lessons I’d wake up 50 times with that horrible feeling you are falling where you wake up with a jump but I’d dream I was crashing my car. I did the pass plus and everything but couldn’t get myself to drive until I got into vet school (I’m only 20) 200 miles from home and my parents refused to drive me there so off I went.. I still worry and often put maps on even if I know my way but I’m so much better now.

I’m sure you can improve too, good luck!

AliceAbsolum Sun 17-Mar-19 21:23:48

Hypnotherapy has a very small evidence base. If it doesn't work then try CBT.

NoooorthonerMum Sun 17-Mar-19 21:29:06

I was very similar. I did manage OK. I used beta blockers for my lessons for quite a while then found I didn't need them anymore. It didn't help that I'm not naturally good at driving but I got there in the end. Once I passed my test I forced myself to go for a drive every day. Started really simple (literally once round the block) then on to the local supermarket and now a bit further a field (although I wouldn't have the guts to drive abroad or go on a really long trip yet). Now I'm not nervous for local drives and only a bit on edge when going further afield.

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