A serious topic from me for once

A couple of months ago, I set off for the monthly meeting in Dunchurch to sort out the Mick n Phil Half Marathon. I've been driving for 20 years, never had any problems in a car, although I did have a nasty experience on a motobike donkeys years ago.   

I got as far as junction 14 of the M1 with no problems.  The weather was shitty and horrible, absolutely p*ssing with rain, and the visibility was not good.  It's a very long way from junction 14 of the M1 to junction 15, and something happened on the way.  I kind of got mesmerised by the unchanging view, and the world started to narrow, the way it does when you're going to pass out.  I knew that if I pulled onto the hard shoulder, I'd never get off again, so I opened all the windows and sang loudly, kept going, came off at the next exit (eventually, it was a long time coming), phoned to say I wouldn't make the meeting and very, very slowly drove home again.  I had to go back down the motorway because I was literally too scared to cross lanes to drive down the A road home again via Bedford.  My heart was hammering the whole way, and I was in such a state that I was having to think consciously about every move when driving, from changing gear to which foot to put on which pedal.  How I made it home without having an accident I'm not sure, as I was a serious mess.

This is so unlike me.  I've tried motorway driving twice since then, and had a complete panic attack both times.  This is going to seriously mess up my life if i don't get it sorted - any suggestions?


  • Get an instructor to go out on the motorway with you a few times?
    Good luck.
  • Cheers Bearlegs, I'll give it a go.

    I know it's because I'm associating motorways with fear like one of Pavolv's dogs, but stopping it happening is another thing altogether.  It must be just like this for people who are afraid of flying, except that in my case rather than having to just sit there and not panic, I'm having to drive properly so as to not risk other people's lives, whilst also managing the not panicking thing

  • SezzSezz ✭✭✭

    Hash, my Mum had a hypnotherapy session a few years ago and that seemed to help her somewhat.

    Other things to try are Neuro Linguistic Programming - literally reprogramming your thoughts - there are many books on the subject, Paul McKenna's is good and includes a CD, or your can book a session with a Licensed Practitioner, one session will be enough. 

    Bach Flower Remedies - try Rescue Remedy, a few drops on your tonuge, before your next trip, or the remedy Mimulus or Aspen (I think Boots might sell them).

    Also try visulisation - before next trip run through it in your mind (this touches on some NLP techniques), see each junction and see yourself driving with ease, steadily and calmly.  Stop and take deep breathes if you need to.  Before you actually set out, take deep breathes again when sat in the driving seat and revisualise that trip you took in your mind.

  • Try altering the seat , mirrors , radio stations . Different shoes . So long as it's all safe . Hold the wheel as lightly as is safe . Look around , look in the mirrors , try not to end up staring fixedly ahead . Try not to do the trip all in one go , plan breaks before setting out . Use the service areas for walkabouts .

    Hopefully all this will leave little room in your brain for the silly little fear troll .

    Drive safely for a distance that you choose , not a distance you have to do . 

    They had to crowbar my hands off the armrests on flights . Never  got out of the seat , even on long haul . Rigid . Made small changes , set times , did things .


  • Thanks Sezz.   Someboty else recommended the Bach rescue remedy, I'll try that.   Interesting what you say about visualisation too, I think I'd been doing the reverse of that and been thinking about what if it happens again.  So it did, like a self fulfilling prophesy

    ST One you've really been there, haven't you?  Did it get any better and can you fly now?  My mum in law is trying to overcome a fear of flying as hubby's brother has emigrated to America, but it's a huge battle of will for her.

    The thing I can't understand is where this came from.  I was fine until one incident a couple of months ago, and now I'm a mess whenever I go near a motorway.  Daft isn't it - I've driven on motoways for years with no problems, so I have no idea where this came from.  But then again, if I knew that, I'd know how to get rid of it.

  • All is well long haul , short haul . Break it up into sections . half hour , one hour . get to the end of one and then think about the next . As we count the miles to the finish line . Reading , writing , knitting , origami , ping pong , gymnastics , all can help to make air travel bearable , if not amusing for the cabin crew .

                                            Take it easy .      image

  • Might be an idea to try and work out what exactly triggered it off too.  Was it that you thought the conditions were really dangerous to drive in (in which case turning back was actually a good decision).  Were you a bit tired or sick leading you to space out?  Did you have a premonition (if you believe in such things - in which case you can tell yourself the danger is now long gone and no need to be scared any more).  It seems to me you may have had a good reason to stop that day.  If you can figure it out maybe you can avoid getting in the same situation again and enjoy driving otherwise.
  • KK, no I was fine then, honestlyimage

    But after reading everyone's replies, the similarity between this and the swimming thing (unless pickled) has struck me

    Rowan, I'm not sure, but thanks for the food for thought and I will have a ponder while plodding around Bedford tomorrow.  The weather was dreadful, absolutely lashing down with rain, windscreen wipers on double speed and I still couldn't see a thing, so that accounts for that day, but unfortunately not for the subsequent wibbling

  • ST I suppose the only difference is that with flying you can have several stiff gins!

    Thanks, though, I think you're dead right about breaking it up into small chunks.  It's a bit like my long runs, I don't think x miles to go, I think about where the next milestone is

  • ClagClag ✭✭✭

    That sounds horrible! Graded exposure is one way to go where you gradually do a little bit more each time - possibly the driving instructor thing would be good, or even just going with someone else you trust.

    On the Rescue Remedy front, I've heard many good things about it, but I also had a friend who took too much and turned into a bit of a space cadet for a while, bit too chilled, so maybe try it for size before going out! image

  • beebsbeebs ✭✭✭
    Hash, a horrid experience for you, I hope you get it sorted
  • Is it only when you are driving or does it happen when someone else drives?

    Maybe Beta blockers might help.

  • Thanks all, I've been out all day or I'd have responded sooner.  The problem is the panic attacks rather than the driving - risking my life is one thing, but because I feel as if I'm going to pass out when it happens, risking someone else's life by driving on a motorway isn't an option

    Someone wrote a book about that.......

  • This kind of thing is incredibly common (as I'm sure you know). People tend to get it in trains, supermarkets, etc.

    Normally, there's a feedback loop involved: because you panicked once, you are sensitised to the possibility that you'll panic again. This means that you're on edge, but also monitoring your physiological responses. Because your'e on edge, you're going to get an adrenal response, which your mind will interpret as a sign that the whole thing is indeed happening again. So you'll get a further adrenal response - your heart starts beating quickly, you'll begin to breathe heavily, you'll get a feeling of detachment (because adrenalin has that cognitive effect), etc., all of which you interpret as even more evidence that you're panicking and won't be able to function. And round it goes.

    The solution is to break the feedback loop. That's not easy, but relaxation techniques, plus cognitive-behavioural therapy, has been shown to be the most effective stuff.

  • hash....I used to have no sympathy for people who had "panic"* attacks until I had my own a few years ago.  There is no worse feeling in the world.  This year, after feeling myself invincible to them, I had a series of attacks this summer (you marry off  your daughter and see how you feel!!) and have spent the rest of the year trying to recupperate.  It's crap....but you have to give yourself time to heal (sorry if thats psychobabble) and not throw yourself back into the situation that caused it till you're ready.

    Don't put yourself under pressure, say "no" when you can....take time out and understand that the world will still revolve without you trying to run it.  I'm sending you some brackets!!!  ((( )))

    *I'm more inclined to say anxiety than stresss/anxiety was what was holding me up....not a good foundation!!

  • I have a close friend who cannot drive on motorways.  She too has panic attacks.  She just avoids them!  But if I had to rely on a therapy I'd go with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.  It basically re-boots your brain to forget to panic, to forget the association of driving with having an attack, or something like that.

    I wouldn't bother with hypnotherapy.  I've seen it work for a woman from school, but all her symptoms came back a year later.  No permanent cure there.

    As for flying phobias, I had/have a mild one.  Taking Stugeron tablets seems to have cured it, they are tablets that are labelled as travel sick pills but they are knock out pills that tranquilise you into relaxing and not having a panic.  They work a treat.  You just can't drive to the airport or drive after the flight because your reactions are too slow.

    Hope you get sorted Hash.  x

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