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Social Anxiety and Driving

(6 Posts)
CheerfulYank Tue 17-Nov-15 01:32:26

I thought of name changing for this, buy whatever. smile

I don't drive. I never have. (Well, I've driven a handful of times but I've never had a license.). This is considered very, very odd in the States. People are shocked when I tell them.

I have three DC and it does make a real impact on my life. I live in a small town and I'm happy enough, able to walk most places etc but sometimes things are really hard. It gets very cold here in the winter and walking a mile to the store with young DC in -30 weather isn't really possible.

I always thought I was afraid of driving but I've recently had an epiphany. I'm not afraid of driving, I'm afraid of being seen driving.

I looked it up and apparently this is a real thing...people talk about feeling as though other drivers are judging them, or feeling like they're really terrible unsafe drivers, etc. It seems to be a form of social anxiety.

I'm not an anxious person really but I have had some little quirks in the past and things I rember from childhood that I realize would fall under the SA heading.

In some ways I feel hopeful because I've conquered the other issues in the past but in some ways I feel...well, like a freak! I don't know how to go about getting help for this and I feel strange even talking about it.

Does anyone have experience with anything like this?

Naoko Tue 17-Nov-15 02:12:44

Hi Cheerful, I don't have specific experience with that (I learned to drive last year and I loved it) but sadly I have a lot of experience with anxiety. What you describe as 'not scared of driving, just worried about being seen/judged by others while driving' sounds really familiar to me. For example, for many years I did not drink alcohol, not for any moral or religious conviction but simply because I had never tried an alcoholic drink I actually liked. Then more recently, someone gave me some drinks to try and I did because I didn't want to be rude, and found that some of them were nice. However, I still don't drink except around two or three people I trust absolutely, because I worry what people will think if I drink alcohol confused. This isn't in any way a legitimate worry because none of my friends give a damn and will all happily have a drink themselves, so they wouldn't judge me! I still can't deal, though.

Anyway, that's a very longwinded way of saying - it's a form of anxiety, so deal with it like any other form of anxiety. You could try talking to a counsellor - if you can find one you click with, it really could be very helpful. I saw one two years ago when my general anxiety levels were so high I wasn't functioning and even though I only had six sessions it really, really helped.

CheerfulYank Tue 17-Nov-15 12:00:51

Thanks smile I've thought about therapists before but never taken the step.

Pootles2010 Tue 17-Nov-15 12:12:29

Yep i have this, but not so strong as you by sounds of it. I have learnt to drive, I am getting there. Bizarrely I am more scared of people judging me, than crashing. If no one saw me crash i'd be ok i reckon hmm

I can't suggest where to get help, I'm afraid - especially as you're in the states. If you're going to learn, get a sympathetic instructor - mine wasn't, she made me worse.

I think i've gotten better as I've gone along - one thing that has helped, is that other people do stupid thing when i'm driving every day, and i've forgotten about them 10 minutes later - so just thinking that people make mistakes, it happens, no one spends that much time thinking about it, in reality.

CheerfulYank Tue 17-Nov-15 12:32:24

Yes Pootles! That's kind of how I figured it out...the thought of driving normally makes me feel sick, but the thought of driving and not encountering anyone makes me feel nothing really. Maybe slight excitement to actually be driving and get to pick the music on the radio!

I do want to learn. I live in a really small town and there are no taxis, no public transport, no grocery delivery...it's hard. Also my best friend's grandmother has died and I'm trying to figure out how to get to the funeral and having to ask for rides etc. I hate it.

I think it gets worse the older I get too. I'm 33 now and I just need to do it. When we just had one DC it was easier for DH to give me rides or whatever but we've had two more in the past two years now, and it's hard to justify having to get all three of them bundled up and in the car just because I need a ride somewhere. And we have to save big shopping trips and things like that for the weekend and it cuts into our family time.

I just need to do it.

sweetkitty Tue 17-Nov-15 14:45:39

Me I've had a licence for 15 years and I drive every day!

However, I will only drive on certain roads never motorways or dual carriageways, I park miles from anyone else in case I bump their car. I can't drive somewhere ive never been before. It's rubbish and it makes me feel so down.

I would love to pack the DC into the car and go to the seaside for example but I just can't. Few people know about my driving anxiety as I feel so ashamed.

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