I've had a driving anxiety episode...

SilentAndShy

Well-known member
#1
Now, my history with driving a car has been a very traumatic experience from 16 years of age when I started the car for my brother and hitting the nearby wall!

I passed in 2009 and at that time, I didn't have funds to buy a car. In 2012, I did and I bought a car which proved a costly experience as I had embarrassing moments (hitting my car on the driveway wall with some members of my family watching)

So yes, not great experiences and added to that I know absolutely nothing on cars. Buying them, their mechanics, what needs to be done annually (I want to know so any links would be great) - it just hasn't been for me compared to my contemporaries who speak about cars regularly and I'm like 'Yup, this part of the conversation is not for me then!'

I've used public transport or walked when I can and it's not that embarrassing compared to what people, like my friends, might view it as. I see it as a necessity to get to work and back.

Up untl a month ago, I hadn't driven. Yet circumstances changed and I took hold of an older car and started to drive, having had a refresher lesson and a drive with my brother.

All of my concerns about my driving (abysmal spatial awareness and clutch control) are still there, and every time I took the car took time to muster up the confidence to do so and endless viewings of Google Maps to provide reassurance of where I was going. I made some small strides.

However, I've driven twice this week and ended up having two seperate incidents of burning my clutch and panicking beyond belief (holding tup traffic twice), the latter experience happening a few moments ago and my confidence is rocked. I've been trying to avoid a certain roundabout that is confusing for me but today, in my attempt to avoid it, I ended up there (having gone into the wrong lane) and I executed it abysmally. Another driver horned to shout what I was doing. I don't want to drive today and maybe avoid as long as I can.

For everyone else, it's such a frickng easy thing to do ("like riding a bike", they say) yet for me I'm it's a task that I don't see myself being perfect (I'm a perfectionist) but just being acceptable. And I feel there's no-one within family and friends to ask for help as they'd just smirk at a 32-year-old struggling with this and even more so in South Asian communities, that acute sense of feeling inadequate is worse.
 

theoutsider

Well-known member
#3
Have you considered purchasing an automatic transmission car? A manual transmission isn't for everyone and if you're experiencing anxiety about it, you're likely to burn the clutch out which will prove costly. I remember when I first learned to drive a clutch, I was terrified especially if I had to stop and start on a steep hill. Also, not trying to talk you into giving up, but maybe driving isn't for you. I say that because I remember my mother having anxiety about driving when I was a kid and us having several near accidents. I only say that for your own safety. If your anxiety is such that you are panicking in traffic, you have to take your well being (and the safety of others) into consideration. Sometimes those moments of hesitation can lead to serious harm. At any rate, good luck with dealing with the anxiety and stay safe!
 
#4
You should practice in places where there's no traffic, and do that for a while before venturing elsewhere.
^Sooo this!!!

After I passed my drivers test, I still only drove around for hours and hours of practice throughout the quiet back streets in my town - before I even attempted to go out into proper traffic, and especially roundabouts!

You need to strengthen the neurons in your brain that were created while you were learning to drive a car. All of the physical actions of driving a car are still not second nature to your brain.

A good way of knowing when the actions of driving became second nature for me, was when I could hold a conversation with someone in the car, while I was driving, and not make any mistakes. Only then, did I finally venture out into heavy traffic.
 
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#5
I know exactly how that is. I was so nervous to drive in traffic that I got anxious if I just had one car behind me because I was worried about messing up and hindering them. Also that feeling of inadequacy because like you said, it's something people just take for granted. But I knew that if I just felt secure in my driving it would make all the difference. So I started practicing on roads at the countryside with hardly any traffic and that's what helped me. Now I can even find driving enjoyable and somewhat soothing.
 

Sacrament

Well-known member
#6
I live in a town where traffic is never really too bad, and although entering roundabouts during rush hour makes me anxious, I try to keep my wits about me and focus on making sure neither of the other drivers is being an idiot.

The main thing you should focus on is making sure you're doing everything like you're supposed to: properly aligned with the limits of the lanes you're in, not going too fast, not driving too close to the guy in front, and paying attention to your mirrors and road signs. But first, practice in quieter neighborhoods and places that are away from rush hour traffic.
 

SilentAndShy

Well-known member
#7
Well, since my OP, I can't say things have massively improved. I'm getting a new car that I hope will give me confidence rather than my existing vehicle that was a hand-me down and never fully had faith in it. I struggle with my clutch control on a hill, whether that's stationery or moving along traffic up hill (I can't avoid one hill as that route is where I would come home from work) and either my car rolls back or I end up revving the car to get going. Whenever I do go up hill I pray there's not a red traffic light stop and I can go about my way. I should be pleased I've taken strides with my driving yet I'm a perfectionist and can't take being unable to do things smoothly as everyone else can.
 

DeadmanWalking

Well-known member
#9
Well, since my OP, I can't say things have massively improved. I'm getting a new car that I hope will give me confidence rather than my existing vehicle that was a hand-me down and never fully had faith in it. I struggle with my clutch control on a hill, whether that's stationery or moving along traffic up hill (I can't avoid one hill as that route is where I would come home from work) and either my car rolls back or I end up revving the car to get going. Whenever I do go up hill I pray there's not a red traffic light stop and I can go about my way. I should be pleased I've taken strides with my driving yet I'm a perfectionist and can't take being unable to do things smoothly as everyone else can.
Well, it's good that you're pushing yourself forward. I can understand the anxiety; I had my own accident when I was learning to drive and it scared me out of wanting to learn. But, now, I'm better with it. I think you should congratulate yourself for coming this far and not stopping. From one perfectionist to another, you need to break out of it. It's okay to make mistakes; it's natural and what makes us human. I mean, everyone floundered about when they were first learning and still do, honestly. It's just about making a dispassionate, objective observation about your actions and learning from them. That's how I do it.

But, don't worry. Truly, it will get better. The nervousness will pass and you'll soon realize that people on the road can be nutty:p, like "How did you ever pass your driving test with skills like that?" kind of nutty. You'll soon be more worried about everyone else, rather than yourself.
 

SilentAndShy

Well-known member
#10
Well, it's good that you're pushing yourself forward. I can understand the anxiety; I had my own accident when I was learning to drive and it scared me out of wanting to learn. But, now, I'm better with it. I think you should congratulate yourself for coming this far and not stopping. From one perfectionist to another, you need to break out of it. It's okay to make mistakes; it's natural and what makes us human. I mean, everyone floundered about when they were first learning and still do, honestly. It's just about making a dispassionate, objective observation about your actions and learning from them. That's how I do it.

But, don't worry. Truly, it will get better. The nervousness will pass and you'll soon realize that people on the road can be nutty:p, like "How did you ever pass your driving test with skills like that?" kind of nutty. You'll soon be more worried about everyone else, rather than yourself.
Thank you. However, how do I adjust my mental concentration when I'm driving so that my mind doesn't drift off and I end up making mistakes, that God forbid, haven't resulted in anything major. I just struggle to focus on my job to drive, and that's when anxiety ramps up and once a mistake happens (which it has on the few occasions I've driven the new car) I'm gone. It's like I zone out when I'm driving and just am doing the physical task of driving but not there if that makes sense. I'm swearing, sweating, and taking it out on my passengers who are the most important people in my life, i.e my family.
 

Miserum

Well-known member
#11
Some resources:

This fellow knows a lot about cars and car maintenance:
https://www.youtube.com/user/scottykilmer

I'm not trying to be snarky or sarcastic with the link below. It's just that there are SO many videos on how to drive well. Just watch a mega fuck ton of them. It will help. :)
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=how+to+drive

Also, don't drive like these people (there are lessons to be learned from these compilations) :LOL::
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=shitty+driving+compilation

I also hope your new car (as you mentioned in your other post) isn't a stick-shift! Driving can already be a daunting task with an automatic; adding the stick-shift component just makes it even more difficult.

Now that you've got me going, the thought of utilizing positive visualization has crossed my mind. Basically, you close your eyes and picture the steps you need to go through to accomplish the task of driving well. I mean, literally, visualize yourself succeeding at driving. A lot of athletes use this to visualize success. It may help.
 

DeadmanWalking

Well-known member
#12
Thank you. However, how do I adjust my mental concentration when I'm driving so that my mind doesn't drift off and I end up making mistakes, that God forbid, haven't resulted in anything major. I just struggle to focus on my job to drive, and that's when anxiety ramps up and once a mistake happens (which it has on the few occasions I've driven the new car) I'm gone. It's like I zone out when I'm driving and just am doing the physical task of driving but not there if that makes sense. I'm swearing, sweating, and taking it out on my passengers who are the most important people in my life, i.e my family.
People zone out. I do it and the people around me have told me about stories when they did it. But, really, focusing comes with experience. Personally, I focus better when I remember how much I'm spending on my car right now and how I never want to buy another car again:LOL:. Maybe keeping your mind busy, like, for example, switching between focusing on other cars around you and then doing a general focus on your surroundings. It'll help keep your mind busy while giving you relevant information.

When you get angry, however, it might be best to pull over and relax yourself until you calm down. If you've yelled at your family, take the time to pull them aside and let them know that you're sorry and that you didn't mean to yell at them. Explain your feelings to them so they can better understand you and then they can help you improve. Besides, driving while in an emotional state may create a self-fulfilling prophecy, so that's another reason why pulling over may be best for you.
 
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