I’ve had a recurring dream often on since I was in my 20’s. So I’m driving a car down a street, when all of a sudden I somehow am sitting in the backseat, and no one else is driving the car, but it’s still moving. I always wake up relieved it was only a dream. Here’s the ironic part: I don’t drive or have a driver’s license.
Now you may be thinking, “well of course, that makes sense, given your physical disability“. But that would be a bit inaccurate. There are SO many people with physical disabilities that can drive. Even some people without some of their limbs are able to drive with specially equipped cars. Unfortunately, these specially equipped cars weren’t enough to turn me into a driver.
When I was a Jr. in high school, my parents looked into driver’s training for me. I’d need a specialized car with hand controls since foot controls would not work for me. That meant I’d need a trainer that specialized in teaching people with disabilities to drive. Fortunately we were able to contact an organization that helps people with disabilities procure necessary services, and an appropriate driving instructor was found.
To complete their driving program, I was required to successfully finish 56 hours of on the road driving with an instructor. Seemed pretty simple at the time. So our lessons began.
One thing I learned early on in the driver’s training process is how stressful driving can be. I seemed to do fine on straight country roads, but put me on more than a 2 lane highway, and I’d start freaking out inside. At first I was able to calm myself and get through a session. But in time I experienced more anxiety as my lessons progressed. I found it difficult to do the multiple simultaneous tasks needed to safely drive. Even with medication, my ADHD made it difficult to concentrate on the road, on account of my anxiety. Couple this with my then unknown eye condition, and you have the perfect scenario for disaster on wheels. Yes, as an adult I’d be diagnosed with a condition called lateral nystagmus; by definition, an involuntary shaking of the eyeball. I’ve had this all my life, I just thought it normal. LN can make stationary objects appear to be moving, or moving objects to be still.
The last complication of driving was my instructor. His was tasked with teaching several students out-of-state, and would frequently cancel our sessions only after he was late to them. One thing I’ve learned about living with anxiety is that I crave structure and consistency. Not being able to drive on a consistent basis was upsetting, so I did the only thing I knew to fix the problem; I fired my driving instructor.
Several years later I resumed driver’s training and it was decided it was in my best interest (and society at large), if I remained off the roads.
So, I am a fully functional adult who doesn’t drive. Sure this has taken some adjustment over the years, but for the most part I’ve been able to live my life fully without the need to drive. After college I moved to a larger city that had a great public transportation system, enabling me to get around quite easily. Sure there have been frustrations over the years; snow and I are in constant battle mode every winter, but I’m relieved to know that I’ll not be responsible for an accident due to poor driving.
You may have anxiety over driving. That’s ok. You are most certainly not alone. If you only have anxiety and no other physical restrictions that would prevent you from driving, I encourage you to seek some help from a professional. There is no shame in seeking help.
I hope this encouraged you. Please pass this along to anyone you think it could help.
I’ll see you again tomorrow!