I Feel Afraid to Drive Because of Schizoaffective Anxiety

July 25, 2019 Elizabeth Caudy

I'm afraid to drive. My schizoaffective anxiety used to only make me afraid to drive in the snow, and then the rain. But now I feel anxious whenever I drive. Here’s how I’m coping.

Using Exposure Therapy to Cope with Being Afraid to Drive

Despite my schizoaffective anxiety, I take my car out nearly every day even though I'm afraid to drive. I’ve been trying to do this in the rain as an additional challenge. In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), this is called exposure therapy. I’m making myself do the thing I’m afraid of doing.

It is helping. I am recognizing that I’m a good driver, even in less-than-perfect weather. I’m nervous when I drive in the rain, but I can still do it. It used to be that I would hear schizoaffective voices when I drove in even a shower. My voices didn’t tell me to do anything, so I could still concentrate on driving when I was hearing them. But I don’t hear voices anymore when I drive in the rain.

I suppose that, in a way, it’s good that I’m anxious about driving because it makes me a more careful driver. But my anxiety is so extreme it can trigger resistance to driving.

I'm Afraid of Driving in the Snow

Last winter was very snowy in Chicago, where I live. I was afraid to drive at all for months. Then, in the spring, when I tried to take out my car, it wouldn’t start. The battery died because my car had been idle for so long. So I had to get a new battery.

I take a drive to places I like at least once a week to keep the battery in good condition. This is a blessing in disguise because it forces me into driving exposure exercises. I just don’t need to drive to many places. My husband Tom drives everywhere when we go out, and most places I go to alone, like therapy, are more easily accessible by train. Tom and I live across the street from the train station.

I’m very nervous about driving in the snow next winter. I know I have to do it—the car battery will remain a good incentive. So we’ll see what happens.

I'm Afraid to Drive Long Distances

My general practitioner’s office is about a half-hour away. I’m very nervous about going to see him in August because of the drive. But I know it’s important to go for my annual checkup. It’s particularly important that I get bloodwork done because of all the psychiatric medication I’m on.

Last year, I took a cab. That’s always an option for this year—especially if it’s raining—but I really want to see if my exposure exercises will have paid off. And I know I’ll be so proud of myself if I’m able to drive to my appointment.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2019, July 25). I Feel Afraid to Drive Because of Schizoaffective Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, May 8 from

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

July, 31 2019 at 2:30 pm

I am not driving because of the medications I am on impair my ability to respond in a timely manner. I have had a couple of accidents and do not want to let that happen again.

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