Sunday, 12 February 2012

It all started with a driving lesson...

I am a scredy cat driver. I passed my driving test several years ago but I have not driven since. I learnt, not because I wanted to drive but because it was a skill I thought I should get under my belt in case I ever needed it. It takes time to learn and is expensive. I did not want to find myself in the position of needing to drive but having to start from the beginning. Ever the cautious person! Anyway, being the anxious type if something is generally viewed as being potentially a bit risky it is to me something which is definitely very dangerous and must be avoided at all costs.

Now I have moved house I need to drive as the public transport is not sufficient for my needs. Of course I am rusty to say the least and need refresher lessons. I had one three weeks ago which went ok. I remembered a lot which was pleasing. I was quite happy with the lesson overall. The problem though is that I have quite low self esteem and I tend to get self critical very easily. I identify negative niggles and analyse them until I feel bad. As I thought about it I started to become annoyed with myself for not being more able. I felt that I should be more competent since afterall I can  legally drive. At the time I did not rationalise that hang on a minute I have actually not done it for about six or seven years.  Secondly I became annoyed with myself for being so scared and began to compare myself with all the "normal" people who just go out and do it without all the fuss. I was not fair to myself by saying "the thing is though they don't have anxiety disorders". I started down a path of negative feelings - mainly inferiority. I then compared myself to people at work and how highly educated they are, how much money they have, where they live, how thin they are! Why was I doing this to myself? The negative, self-critical thinking can really spiral out of control. All I did was have a driving lesson and after a couple of days negativity I felt so bad about myself. Now though I am more rational. I got so sick of beating myself up for not being more able and successful or being as "perfect" as everyone else and feeling low because I have these anxiety issues. I just had to be more kind to myself. I thought do I deserve to feel like this about myself and the simple answer is no. I have done nothing to deserve that. I have my own successes and when I look at my life with reason I know I am doing ok. If only I could have more control when the negative thinking begins I would perhaps not go down this path.

Any advice would be greatfully received!


  1. I understand how you feel as I struggle with hit and run OCD and also with negative self talk.

    There was a time when I was very down on myself because it seemed I could not do half as much as anyone around me because of the OCD. I felt like such an incompetent person. With the help of my psychologist, I finally grew to understand that in some ways, I (and you) are actually doing more than everyone around us because we are moving forward each day in spite of a gigantic weight attached to us (anxiety disorders).

    Another really important thing to remember is that we never really know what is going on in other people's lives. Others may look perfect or happy or super competent, but it could just be our perception of them. I've actually had people insinuate to me that my life is perfect and what problems could I ever have, while at the very same time, unbeknownst to them, I was in extreme agony over OCD.

    As far as the driving, just keep forcing yourself to do it. Don't give the OCD an inch here! I made the mistake of giving in to the OCD while driving and I am living with the consequences now.

    I bet you are doing better than you think. You're just really hard on yourself. Best wishes!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind and helpful comments.

  2. Nice writing. Now a day it is required to learn driving. You have to defeat negative feelings and gain confident to learn driving effectively.

  3. “I learnt, not because I wanted to drive but because it was a skill I thought I should get under my belt in case I ever needed it.”--- I love this statement! It’s true because you never know when you might find yourself in a situation wherein you really need to use a car, and if, by some weird coincidence that you have go through that, you’ll be proud of yourself and really be grateful that you consider learning how to drive. You know what they say: “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”, and though it applies to just-in-case-items, I believe it can be applied to real world skills as well. :)

    Marvis Carswell

  4. How are you doing today? I think the best advice that I can give you is to just do it. Driving requires a lot of practice, and there’s no workaround for that. It’s normal to be scared at first because there’s always an issue of safety, but that will fade as soon as you get comfortable in the driver’s seat. Also, this seems cliché, but don’t mind what other people might think. It’s your life, after all! :)

    Mia Patch