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Since my parents stopped driving 6 years ago, after a year of taking them here and there, my panic attacks have ratcheted up a point when I now get panicky just backing their car out of the garage.

Whenever I tell my parents how I feel when I drive, they look like deer in headlights and say "but who will drive us?". My parents would never call a taxi, they won't ride with a stranger.

Anyone else here have panic attacks driving, and what did you do to help limit the problem?

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If you have not done so already, see your doctor . Maybe an RX for anti-anxiety med might help. It helped me to get my life back & lose my fear of driving. /What a pleasure to be able to drive the highways again and give my hubbie a break when we go on road trip vacations. Now, driving home from work in a snowstorm, that is still a challenge but really, talk to your doctor.
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Veronica91, I honestly think if I had to drive Boris the Tractor through traffic I wouldn't have any panic attacks at all :)

My parent's car is an older large Oldsmobile, which I never did like since the day they bought it.... the vehicle is made for a driver who is 6 foot and taller... I have the seat pulled as far forward as possible since I am 5'2", thus the shoulder strap cuts across my neck.... and I have to lean way back in order to see the side view mirror.... don't know what my parents were thinking when they bought that car, as my parents are now shorter than I am. But the car has a big trunk and that was always #1 on their list when car shopping. They love that trunk :0
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Panic attacks, boy. I have had some. We spent a year in Nashville in 1970 and I was so scared of driving on "the wrong side of the road" that I planned all my routes with only right turns. When we returned for good in 1977 I did a lot better and now would not drive in UK traffic with all the round abouts (traffic cirles) Then there was the horse. My elder daughter was and still is horse crazy and we purchased two horses. First an Appoloosa then a little Morgan mare. We used to go on rides together and it often entailed going through our small village with no edge to the road but a step concrete ditch. I was so paniced that my 13 year old daughter had to come back and grab the horse by the bridle to get me past the ditch. Then there was the metal bridge that had holes in it so you could see the water. Well the horse was as paniced I was and eventually I got her over by backing her on to it so she did not realize she was on till all four feet were on and there was no going back. Funny thing was she stepped right on when we were comming home! I did much better when we got an old pony who was as steady as a rock and always knew the way home if we got lost in the wood. I won't go into driving a truck with a horse trailer behind it. You can't put your foot down to merge into traffic when you have 2000lbs of horse behind you. The final insult was the big Russian tractor we purchased whom we called Boris. He clearly shared his people's dislike for America and could be very beligerent in the cold weather. He had a diesal engine and if you did not plug him in and put a blanket over his engine he absolutely refused to do anything in the cold but sit and sulk till he was squirted with engine starter often several times. He had five foot tall wheels and a six foot bucket on the front and an equally large snow blower on the back. I was not permitted to drive him till my husband decided the grass was greener on the other side of the fence and gave me 20 minutes instruction before departing for pastures new. I mastered the beast though and as long as you talked nice to him Boris was fairly co- operative. I even learnt to drive fence posts in with the bucket - very proud of myself for that. I would say to anyone who has panic attacks by all means ask for some tranquilizers but take them the night before your anticipated trip. Plan which way you will be going and write your route in big letters and stick to the dashboard where you can read without your reading glasses. If you really can't overcome the panic stop driving you are not safe. Regain your confidence by taking short trips alone on familiar streets and gradually reintroduce yourself to busier roads.
Freqflyer I think it may be your parent's car that is causing you so much anxiety and that's spilling over to your own car too. Can you take their car out for some spins on your own without them in the car picking up on your anxiety. Maybe when you are more comfortable with the vehicle without them in it you will regain your confidence. Otherwise they have to make other arrangements before you all end up in a ditch Are you becoming anxious in other areas of your life too.? If so maybe it is time for some definite changes in your lifestyle as well as your parents. Most of us are on the winding down stage of our lives when changes have to happen or are forced on us Just because people are caregivers for aging parents does not stop the aging so as part of taking care of ourselves we need to recognise our limitations and make sensible decisions so we don't end up stuck as so many parents do and become terrified of doing what needs to be done.
By the way Boris was sold a long time age and I no longer drive a truck and horse trailer or even ride a horse for that matter. I do still drive in traffic as long as I know where I am going but would not trust myself to follow the directions from the GPS.
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Thanks everyone, looks like I am not alone with the driving jitters. As for my parents taking a taxi, they wouldn't get in unless I was the one driving the cab.

At one time I did ask my parents what would they do if I wasn't around to drive them.... OMG, you think my hair was on fire the way they looked at me... they had no answer.

I tend to do a bit better on quiet side streets with a lot of stop signs, etc. Now, if only I didn't need to navigate that 6 lane highway right outside of my subdivision. I do have 4-wheel drive, I wish I could go through the neighbors backyards... just got to watch those low slung swing sets !!

I will check the book "Can't we talk about something more pleasant?", sounds like a fun read, thanks ba8alou.
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I am the driver now. I hate driving too. I try to take the side streets that are roads less traveled. I only go to the intersections that have stop lights. I go out mostly in the mornings when the traffic is less congested. Sunday mornings is a really go time to drive to the grocery store.
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funny someone mentioned the driving a car your not used to. I am more nervous driving folks sweet ride than my truck. Dad has trouble with my truck as it;s too high.. the caddy is too low.. can;t win. Mom loves the caddy.. so I try to drive in once in awhile... but it is scarey for me because I am used to the back up camera and their car is a sporty model and way lower and smalller. I used to only drive sports cars, but those days are way over. I travel major highway and huge city to work.. I want lots of metal around me!
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FF i still get these and yes its stress i got therapy BUT the problem now is ive no car and havnt driven in over 2years which is scary my car couldnt be repaired so its a question of money at the moment but its not good the sooner i get back driving the better! My panic started after the accident where i hit my head it took a year and alot of PTS therapy to even get me into a mall let alone a car its such a shame as i did well and got back driving again only for the stupid car to break down! I would see a doc as this can get worse but as anyone knows this is all in your head in therapy i learned to control it. A brown paper bag and deep breaths also telling yourself "dont be silly" but yes as jesse says panic attacks are very scary the first one i had i thought i was having a heart attack. Havent had one for a year now the last one was trying to cross a huge bridge over the highway HA mum was way ahead of me and i was having a panic attack behind her i just couldnt walk that bridge lucky i saw "my knight in shinning armour" a young guy helped me across it oh i was so embarrassed but as anyone whose had a bad one sometimes you need to ask for help.

Also yoga helps alot calms the mind down nip this in the bud now as the more you get stressed the more frequent they become gosh caregiving and panic attacks just dont go well together!
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FF I had the occasional panic attack.. I found that staying off the highway if possible helped.
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If they call taxi's a few times, they'll find that drivers will be MORE than happy to give them their cell phone number so they can call them directly for rides. Tom (my significant other) doesn't even work for a dispatch company anymore, because he's strictly private rides. Many of his clients are seniors who aren't driving anymore. They love him . . . especially when he sings Happy Trails to the at the end of their rides.

You're being pressured into doing something you don't want to do anymore. It's become enough of a problem that you are having panic attacks in anticipation of "one more time." Time to pull the plug before the Dept of Motor Vehicles does it for you. ;) ;)
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Frequent, you need to talk to your doctor about this. I would venture a guess that your panic is a symptom of stress. So, go to doc. Put driving your parents on hold. "The doctor has told me not to drive for a few weeks because I'm on a new med. Here is the number of the cab company I'm going to be using" Read Roz Chast's book, Can't we talk about something more pleasant?" It's a funny graphic novel not a self help book, so get it from the library or just read it in the bookstore. It will make you laugh and cry!
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Who is going to drive them, if you die suddenly? I am more concerned with their reply, than your panic attacks. But, seriously, talk to your doctor about this. I am betting that driving your parents is what is causing the attacks. Tell them, you are finished being their chauffeur.
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ff, I had panic attacks when I drove when I had bouts of panic disorder. If I let the panic win, then I wouldn't have been able to drive anymore. To battle it, I would get a bottle of coke or water, jump in the car, then tell myself, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Panic attacks feel terrible, but they are self-limiting. I know what you are going through, but hope you can feel the fear and do it anyway. Not being able to drive would be a serious handicap, so it is worth the fight.

A little Xanax never hurt if it got really bad. The drug helped me through some hard times and I never got addicted to it. Maybe your doctor will prescribe a few that you can keep on hand if needed.
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Linda22, you're right I need to use my parents car whenever we take Mom somewhere because she is no longer able to climb up into my vehicle.... my gosh, my parent's car is like driving a cruise ship down the road.... they are from the generation where the bigger the car the wealthier you look :P

The panic has now expanded over to my vehicle, even with or without my parent on board. It has to be stress related.

It's sad because I use to love to drive... that's probably why they don't understand my not wanting to drive anymore. Plus we live in a large metro area which doesn't help.
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ff, if I remember right, you have a car but need to use the folks' car because of room? Is it their big car or driving your own car too?
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Hi freqflyer- yes I hate driving period and am so nervous if Im going to cause an accident, get pulled over for not driving right, I feel like a little bug in control of the powerful vehicle! So Im still battling the fears, I try breathing exercises and good thoughts, thought of getting anxiety pills idk if that will help. But I heard of taking defensive driving- a specialist who can handle the nervous people like me or reg therapy is good. I know the alternate which is not to drive as much and may have to hire a driver for the rest of the errands and apts. You have to be comfortable and confident to drive. Never let anyone push you into driving if you cant esp on certain days!

Your parents will have to maybe hire a permanent driver to take them, they will get to know them. I know easier said then done. As you all tell me, " just have a backup plan and tell them or just say you cant do certain things". I wish you luck :)
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