Facing My Anxiety

Facing My Fear Of Road Trips

For the most part I feel like I have my anxiety under control right now. It is still there, however, lingering in the shadows, ready to pounce at unsuspecting moments. I know this, but I have been doing really well lately and I haven’t had any panic attacks. This has been great considering I am currently weaning myself off of Zoloft. Right now I am taking 25mg every other day.

I am able to manage my day to day life well but I haven’t had any opportunities to test myself. One of my biggest fears with anxiety is taking road trips by myself, or with my kids (ages 2&4). I have an unrealistic fear of having a panic attack while I am alone on the highway and far from my comfort zone. I dread the thought of panicking and having to pull over in an unfamiliar place. Not knowing where to go and not having someone I know close by.

I think it is worse when I have my kids in the car with me. Who will take care of them if I am having a panic attack? I don’t want them to get scared if they see me having a panic attack. Of course I go to the worse case scenario and envision having to call 911 and get taken away in an ambulance, leaving my kids alone with a police officer or something. For the record I have never in my 18-year struggle with anxiety called 911 or gone to the hospital. But I am unable to stop this unrealistic fear at times.

So the opportunity arose for me to take a road trip to visit my college friend, and I actually decided to do it. My first thought was that I can’t do it since I am weaning myself off of Zoloft and I shouldn’t push it. Then I thought, what the hell, I feel okay, so lets do this.

I have almost done this road trip several times before. My husband takes business trips twice a year to north jersey and my best friend from college lives very close to where he is staying. He does this trip every 6 months and I always say I am going to drive up there while he is there and visit him and my best friend. Every time I find excuses not to go.

This time for whatever reason I felt the motivation to do it. This trip for my husband ended up being moved up last minute. All of a sudden he had to leave in a couple days. I thought to myself, I can visit my friend like I always say I am going to do. I just felt this surge of willpower and thought, I can do this!

The first thing I did was text my friend and ask her if she would be around. Then I was honest with her. I told her I wanted to come but that I was anxious about driving up there alone. I asked her not to be mad at me if I got too anxious and backed out at the last minute. She promised me she wouldn’t and she was very encouraging. It felt good to be honest and open and throw it all out there. More importantly her supportive response was very helpful. It took less pressure off me. It made the thought of going more enjoyable and less dreaded. It wasn’t this commitment I was scared I would break. It was a fun event I hoped I could make but it would be okay if I didn’t.

It helped that my husband was there. It felt more comforting knowing I was driving towards him and would see him when I got there. That is why I kept planning to visit my friend when he is up there for work. It feels much easier to make the trip knowing he will be there too.

So I only had two days from when I decided to do the trip to when I actually did it. This was good. I didn’t have a lot of time to think bad thoughts in my head. I was busy doing stuff and the days past quickly.

The night before my road trip my son woke up a couples times at night. This is not normal for him, he is usually a good sleeper. I woke up and thought, okay I can’t go today. I normally require a full night of sleep before activities that make me anxious. 🙂 I have noticed a direct link between lack of sleep and anxiety. So here was my excuse to get out. As I got my daughter ready for preschool I was thinking, I can’t do this.

While my daughter was in school I changed my mind and decided I could still do this. I didn’t feel that tired. I still had my motivation. When I picked her up from school at noon I felt ready to go. My plan was to leave after I picked her up from school, prime time for a traffic free drive. I had it all planned out.

It felt like a do or die moment. I had this surge of motivation and I felt that I needed to do it, for myself and for my fight against my anxiety. I needed to have this accomplishment. I have been putting off doing any long drives (over an hour) on my own for several years now. I need to get over this.

As I started to drive I felt some anxious thoughts creep into my head. Then I had this one thought that saved me. I thought, okay worst case scenario is that I have a panic attack. I will be on a major highway and an exit will be near. Most exits off major highways have a hotel. I will pull over and get a hotel room and hang out with my kids until I calm down. I will always only be about 1 hour away from my comfort zone/people. I will either be one hour from my home or one hour from my husband. This made me feel so much better.

I even thought, it could be fun to get a hotel room. Maybe they will have a pool and the kids can swim! I didn’t pack swimsuits but it didn’t matter. I was feeling better.  So I kept driving and it was surprisingly easy. I didn’t even take a Xanax!  I just drove and felt comfortable the whole way.

It felt so good when I made it to my friend’s house. She is one of my best friends but I don’t get to see her often. Only once or twice a year. I had never seen her house that she had lived in for a couple years. I had only meet her youngest child once before. It felt so good to finally see her, her kids and her house. The visit was short but it was so worth it.

I then went and met my husband for dinner. Afterwards I drove home with the kids. It was dark and it was raining but I was fine. I felt so good when I got home. It was a huge accomplishment for me. It gave me a lot of confidence. I have another road trip planned to visit some more college friends in February. I have to drive even further. If I hadn’t done this road trip I don’t think I would have the courage to even try this next trip in February. I am feeling more hopeful now that I can do it.




2 thoughts on “Facing My Fear Of Road Trips

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