Anxiety While Driving -- Conquering Life’s Left Turns with GAD
Monday, February 5 2018 Cheryl Slavin
Anxiety while driving is commonplace for me. Due to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), my brain magnifies my anxiety while driving. Even driving to a nearby store turns into a worst-case scenario in my mind’s eye. Some of this anxiety seems reasonable. Other fears involve driving activities that don’t distress the average person. When I drive, there is a specific driving anxiety I can’t conquer. I have a fear of getting into a car accident while making left turns in traffic.
My Anxiety While Driving Has Roots in My Experience
I have a high-stress level in any kind of traffic because of GAD, but my anxiety escalates if my route involves left turns. The most obvious element of my fear is oncoming traffic. My aunt was in a serious car accident when turning left once, and the memory often crosses my mind when I turn across the flow of approaching cars. As with all things in life and left turns, I also have to be conscious of what's in front of me and what's behind me. I hate holding up traffic and I’ve frequently been honked at while waiting to make a left turn. Logic tells me that she who hesitates is lost, but my driving anxiety often forces me to wait for an ideal moment.
Why Left Turns Provoke Endless, Anxious Possibilities
Left turns provoke too many variables for my anxious brain to consider. I worry specifically about where my left turn lane leads because I have little depth perception. And if there are two left turn lanes, sometimes other people try to get into your lane. They illegally go into the wrong lane because it's more convenient. This possibility significantly increases the chance of getting into an accident, and it also makes me an extremely defensive driver.
Continuing to Drive in Spite of Driving Anxiety
As an anxiety sufferer, I must learn to accept that certain tasks are more challenging for me. Though I battle GAD and phobias every day, I continue to drive. I hope for the day that I can forgo white knuckles on the wheel while yielding the right of way. But I also realize that I may never get over the anxiety of a more difficult path. And that’s all right. I take life one day, and one left turn, at a time.