I am happy to have found this website and read TayterTots story.....TayterTot, if you happen to read this, let me know how you are doing - its been almost a year since you wrote. Don't give up! It is scary and frightening, but hang in there. I am hoping that by sharing my story that others will write also, and we can support each other as we conquer our fear.
I have been driving for over 25 years and I have always loved it. I have driven all over the country, many many long distance trips with no problems, I would drive anywhere, alone or with friends at the drop of a hat. For seven years I owned my own consulting company and drove an average of 4,000 miles per month, all without a second thought. Sure I've had close calls a few times, but have never been in a major (or minor) accident. In July of last year, I noticed that I started to get anxious while driving, mostly dizzy, and that the road was coming at me too fast. I would get this feeling maybe once a week and it would last for 15 0r 20 minutes, and then when I reached my destination and got out of the car, the feeling would go away. Gradually this began to occur more often. I am having more trouble seeing at night, but this was happening during the day. It has gotten to the point where I now have panic attacks every time I get on the interstate. I get sweaty palms, heart beating out of my chest, short of breath, and very very dizzy. There are times when I have to pull onto the shoulder and just stop. I find it helps if I am in a place where I can get out of the car and stand up. I feel a sense of disequilibrium like the road is coming at me too fast or that my eyes cannot find the horizon also. I have to drive about 40 miles to work every day, round trip. Part of this commute used to involve one nearby interstate. One day in early January I took this route and it was raining and I knew I was anxious but I literally could not see the lines on the road and I could not see where the road ended and the gray sky began, so I became dizzy and had to pull off for fear that I would lose control. I pulled off twice in three miles before I reached the next exit. Since then I have not travelled this portion of the interstate. There is an interstate loop around my city ( a different one than I drove in January) which is very familiar to me and I can drive around it with no problem, but for some reason, once I leave it and get on a connecting interstate I just freak out and have an anxiety attack. I have altered my route to work because of my panic attacks. This has gotten progressively worse in the last few months and is terrifying to me but also mystifies me. Last month, I was able to drive my boyfriend's daughter's car to her college approximately 125 miles away, but I took a regular 4 lane highway, drove 55 mphthe whole way, and during the span of 2 hours and 15 minutes, had 4 separate panic attacks. But I just kept on going, telling myself that it would eventually go away, that if I need to, I could pull over, and that I could do this. I was exhausted when we finally got to our destination. The next week I drove my daughter and 3 of her friends to a town 30 miles away on the interstate and had two more panic attacks on that drive. I keep trying but I am getting a bit discouraged.
I went to the dr and got started on anti anxiety med about 3 weeks ago. It is finally beginning to take the edge off and stop my continuous worrying about panicking while driving. And every workday, I force myself to drive at least one exit on the dreaded interstate. Some days I freak out for the entire mile, and other days it is bearable. I have heard from many people that I need to keep doing this and taking baby steps to desenstize myself. But I am still very dizzy, especially when I have to turn my head to check for traffic when I change lanes, or when the entrance or exit ramp is one of the round cloverleaf things - those really mess with my balance.
Has anyone else suddenly developed a fear like this? How did you overcome it? Any ideas, suggestions, advice, etc would be appreciated.