How can I help myself?

Avatar for hwh50
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2001
How can I help myself?
Tue, 03-19-2013 - 10:04pm

I'll try and make this as short and to the point as possible.  I have developed anxiety and panic attacks when I think about ridiing in a vehicle with someone.  And to make things worse, I won't go more that about 30 miles from my home if I'm driving.  It really hit me when I was in the truck with my son, his wife and my grandson going to Houston and I had a panic attack, shaking and crying. I made my 6 year old grandson cry and it broke my heart. I haven't been anywhere that I don't drive since then.  I would like to start dating but don't see that happening because even the people that know me and my family don't understand. Their opinion is just get in the car and go.  I lost my insurance in the divorce,  don't qualify for medicaid, and am not financially able to afford to buy insurance.  So what I'm asking is, does anyone have any ideas on how I can overcome this fear on my own without needing medication or psychiatric help?  This all started a couple years after my ex walked out the first time and has gotten progressively worse. If anyone has the slightest tip please let me know.  Thanx, hwh50

Avatar for ubergeek
Community Leader
Registered: 09-23-2010
Thu, 03-21-2013 - 3:53pm

Hi there.

I'm sorry you're in a rough situation. The best thing would be first to figure out what it is about being in the car that upsets you. Are you nervous about an accident? That someone is abducting you? That you won't see your home again?

Once you've figured out WHAT is causing the anxiety (it sounds like it's not the car itself, but something happening with the car) then you can work on getting through it.

I'd recommend borrowing/buying some books on anxiety and panic since you said you can't afford medical help.


Avatar for nawleansdarlin
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-27-1999
Thu, 03-21-2013 - 7:18pm

Hi, I can sympathize with you on not having insurance and needing help.  I get free psychiatric care through my state.  I believe that now all the states have this and you can do a web search for it.  They work on a sliding scale and I only pay $5 and my husband pays nothing.  I get my meds for free.  I also get low cost medical help as well. 

I am not at home right now.  I'm at the library but when I get home I will try to find the books my therapist suggested I read. 

I also do yoga and meditation to calm myself.  I use "self talk" to calm myself as well.  I simply tell myself that this won't last forever and at any time I can get out and walk around.  The older I get the more clostrophobic I get.  It use to be just elevators but now it is showers, rooms without windows and small cars. 

Do you freak out on busses?


siggy line


Avatar for nawleansdarlin
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-27-1999
Fri, 03-22-2013 - 1:41pm

I found the paper and the books that my therapist suggested were/are The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne, PH.D. and his complimentary book Beyond Anxiety and Phobia: A Step by Step Guide to Lifetime Recovery.  I have not read them yet, so I don't know personally but they were suggested by a licensed Psychologist. 

I hope this helps you.

siggy line


iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-1998
Wed, 03-27-2013 - 10:29am

Hi.  I'm also very sorry to hear about your situation, it reminds me very much of my own ((HUGS)).

I am agoraphobic and that often entails pretty much what you described (I'm not stuck at home, but various aspects of leaving home and ending up in situations where a lot is going on- city, freeway, etc- is overwhelming at times).  I also do not like to travel far from home, though as time goes on and I heal, it gets easier- at this point I still cannot see myself spending a night at a hotel.  You may or may not be agoraphobic perse, but your experience about riding in the car is one that is very similar on the anxiety scale.

The good news is that it can get better.  Based on my experiences, I'd suggest any book by Claire Weekes that you can get your hands on- she has great advice and guides you through overcoming your fears and not letting them impress you too much.  For me it has been a slow process, but one that has changed in time by taking it one day at a time and being gentle with myself. Last week I took a ride down one of the most congested freeways in the US, and I was surprised at how well I handled it- a few years ago I could not have thought about even getting near that freeway-- there is hope, you are not doomed to this forever.