Driving Me Crazy

When I was pregnant with Tilda

I learned to drive

I was around 20 weeks

When I passed my test

It was my fifth one I think

And it was automatic only

I would have to learn

And be tested again

To drive a manual car

Not that I think I will ever want to

Why on earth would I want to?

I hate driving!

It is never going to be something I enjoy

But it is something that I need to be able to do

With a young family

Living in a tiny rural village

With no train and one bus

It is something I want to do

Something my own mother never could

That is where my fear of driving started

Flashbacks of my mother being terrified to drive

Struggling to keep control of the car

With my sister and I inside

I remember vividly her crashing

Throwing the keys at my father

Saying she would never drive again

I think she did try to drive again

But never with any desire or conviction

It as Dad who had to drive us

Throughout our teenage years

Dad who has to drive my mother

He does that even now

I want to be able to drive

And when Tilda was here I could

Without being completely crippled by fear

The day she died I did my best driving to date

Over taking on the motorway

Guided by Michele

And that is how the anxiety became so deep rooted

I associate driving with dying

And I have been unable to do it ever since

The panic is not something I feel able to control

I am scared of the unknown on the roads

Terrified of having to reverse on our little country lanes

Worried about the speed and size of motorway traffic

But I need to find a way to overcome my fears

Control my panic

There is a world a waiting out there

I could be chucking the children in the car everyday

And getting out to do and see

We are counting down to big school again

We have this one big summer of play

I am determined to make the most of it

I want to drive not just for now but for the future

I want to take my children to classes and clubs

I want to be spontaneous in the holidays and go off for days out

I want to be less of a burden on David and his parents

I want to get to my grown up children if they need me

Wherever they and I may be

I want to be helpful


To my children

And their children

As they grow

Not driving is driving me

And those around me


Can you help me?

Do you have any tips for overcoming anxiety in the car?

Any ideas for developing confidence behind the wheel?

Please please do get in touch if you do

carry a wand

7 thoughts on “Driving Me Crazy

  1. Ah I so relate to this…was even on my mind today as I drove somewhere new to a soft play we had not tried after using Google satellite maps to check for any dual carriage ways or bug roundabouts…then driving carefully with a toddler and crying baby…Stopping to put his dummy back in on the way as doing it at traffic lights was a bit too dangerous. My mum was always scared of driving too, passed her test after 12 attempts … I am 40 this year but only remember her driving me once…my Dad loves driving so always happily drove her and many others all over the place, but called yesterday to say he did not pass the eye test they do at 70…so has had to stop driving…he retired last month, mum retires next week…such a shame…they come every week to help me…he was mainly worried he might not get to see the grandkids as much…my Mum is going to have some refresher lessons and my tip to her (& you) is to just aim to drive say a 1,3,5 mile radius of home – or to a few key places (supermarket, toddler groups etc)….and focus only on that, find the easiest/safest route even if longer…that is what I did. I have a fear of driving/a car crash after losing a friend when I was 1 and my mum’s reluctance too…I only learnt to drive 2 years ago as was pregnant and moved somewhere with no train station and a bus to town only every two hours! Also get a Sat Nav and use P plates as people are more understanding as they know you are a new/newish driver without an instructor – I put mine on still if driving somewhere new like today.

  2. oh Jennie…. I completely understand the anxiety.. I was the worlds most confident driver. I shot about all over the country at the drop of a hat. Hundreds of miles without a worry. Totally fearless. Then in 2005 I had a bad freak accident in my car and was told if my 5 year old had been in the back it was likely to have been fatal as the whole back end was crushed. I didn’t drive for weeks after and when I did was shaking and full of this blind panic anxiety. Honestly it’s taken years to do anything other than drive very locally in this small town. Only thins year I’ve started getting further a field and in August I’ve to drive from Ayrshire to new quay with my now 17 year old. Nervous doesn’t. Cut it but it’s something I’m determined to do. I need my freedom back now I’m a single mum again and I want to give my children the adventures Sophie and I used to go when she was very little.. I don’t there’s any secret unless u consider hypnosis or cbt. But the desire to have that amazing freedom back is pushing me. Nothing beats a day where u need to just escape and clear ur thoughts like driving with the music loud with no where to be just drive…. It was good therapy I want back. Good luck I hope u get that freedom xxxx

  3. I recommend you have some refresher lessons (already mention above). These could include country lanes, busy roads, motorways, and all probably in your own car. Unlike preparing for a driving test, the instructor is likely to tailor the lesson to suit your needs and wishes.

  4. I have a lot of anxiety about driving. For me, it’s motorways, dual carriageways and (to a lesser extent) unfamiliar roads (especially long stretches). I can drive anywhere and everywhere locally, and even although I can’t park I don’t get nervous about attempting. For me, the fear is the feeling of being ‘trapped’ on a stretch of road (like a dual carriageway) where there is nowhere to turn off or stop. I’ve had some CBT and am considering also trying some hypnotherapy. It’s a very hard fear to overcome because it is DAMN DIFFICULT to put yourself in the position of having an anxiety attack whilst driving (let alone with children in the car). I definitely am far from having cracked it at this stage, but here are my tips:

    1) Try to get out of your head. Focus on things around you. Talk to your kids. Listen to the radio. Play a game. The more time you spend thinking ‘Am I panicking? Am I panicking?’ the more likely you are to panic.

    2) Sing. I watched a TV show about anxiety one and, as you probably know, many of the symptoms that occur when you are anxious are because you ‘overbreathe’ and have too much oxygen floating around your body (heart races, hands shake etc). If you sing, it forces you to breathe in a much more regular way, as well as making you focus on something else (and lifting your spirits a little too).

    3) Betablockers. Low dose just blocks that flood of adrenaline and helps you to get through the drive. As your confidence builds, you stop needing them for that particular journey.

    4) The more you do things, the more your anxiety peak is lower the next time. So what usually happens is people do something that scares them and then when they get incredibly anxious they stop, and then the message they have told their brain is that because they stopped, they were safe. The stopping kept them safe. So the next time you go into the situation, your brain will tell you that the only way to stop the situation being a scary one is to leave. Anxiety has a natural peak, though, and if you stay in a situation where you feel anxious, even if the situation is ongoing, it WILL peak and you will start to feel better. Then the next time you are in the same situation, you will feel anxious again, but your brain will also remember the last time, and the anxiety will be a little lower (this is all proved by studies). The only way to really get better at doing this kind of thing is to do it, and that is horrible and hard and scary because you have to put yourself in a situation which you find very scary and upsetting in order to not find it scary and upsetting in the future.

    This is not really a tip but I also talk to myself in the car, lots of positive self talk. Things like ‘Come on, Eleanor, you can do this. You are a perfectly good driver and you’ve driven this route before. It’s a beautiful day and you’re taking your precious children to the wonderful playground that is along this road. You’ll feel SO good about yourself after you’ve done this’. Etc. Might sound bonkers but it’s worth it. When you tell yourself ‘I can’t do this, I’m so scared, I’m never going to be good at driving, I’m traumatised by what happened in the past’ etc, it may all be true, but you are teaching yourself to believe it and sending yourself down a negative spiral.

    Lots of love – it’s hard honey but it’ll be so worth it. We live in a rural area and I’d be totally stuck without being able to drive. I may not yet be anywhere close to driving to Scotland to see my mum but from being petrified of the 1 mile journey to the supermarket I can now drive up to about half an hour locally (and have done a few longer ones – with a bit of stress, admittedly). I take the kids swimming every week, to gymnastics, to the lake, to the playground, to birthday parties and so on. It’s an ongoing challenge for me and every time an invite comes in with a ‘new’ destination on it I get a little shiver, but I CAN do it and I am teaching myself that the hard way.


  5. I took lessons when I was 17 and used to get so anxious of driving, and of every car/person around me whilst I was driving as I wasn’t naturally very good at it at all. I’ve not taken a lesson since my 20th one (roughly) with the boys now it’s hard to find the time/money to take lessons again, but my fear of getting behind the wheel grows with each year that goes by. I am not sure I will ever drive despite my want to! I know how you feel, it’s always needing someone to take/collect you, I feel I am such a burden on James and my Mum in particular, and I feel I hold us back so much, I feel especially sorry for the boys on school holidays, I am dreading this half term as my parents are away so am stuck in this area for a week!
    I wonder whether some sort of hypnosis may be worth a try, not tried anything myself but it may just work as you have associated an awful event with driving so your mind is making you feel anxious because of that. Good luck!

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