I’ve always considered myself an emotionally resilient person. On top of that, I also never doubted my driving skills and confidence behind the wheel. However, due to a recent unfortunate event, I had to face a challenge that I never thought I would come across – the fear of driving.

I was a victim of a car accident a few weeks ago. Although the situation didn’t change the way I perceive myself as a driver, it definitely fractured the emotional resilience I had in me.

The shock

I didn’t see it coming until the last 2 seconds before the crash. I was driving behind a horse trailer and suddenly, it tilted to the other lane and hit a car coming from the opposite. That car then hit my vehicle, which rotated and hit a brick fence.

The thoughts and feelings that came through my mind at the time of the hit can’t be described. At first, it seemed like I was put in a movie scene.

Then, I realized that this is real life – and I accepted the fact that I will most probably lose it now.

This wasn’t the first time I was a victim of a car accident. I had small incidents before where a car hit my vehicle. However, this time was different. The firefighters who arrived at the scene were shocked and
thought it was a miracle that all the people that took part in the incident survived.

The basis of the fear

The moment of the hit was fearful, but it didn’t break me. It felt like the last moment of my life and I was ready to say goodbye to this world. The thing that really broke me was the sight of the totaled cars. Although
nothing terrible happened, my imagination started creating the worst scenarios in my head.

Physically I was getting better day by day. The mental shock, however, was still strong even after a week. I had some time to rest at home, but I knew eventually I would need to get to work – and the only way to do that is by driving.

In situations like this, it’s important to remember that everyone has suffered from a tragedy of some kind. We all have gone through a shock, let it be after a job loss, breakup, illness or an accident. What’s crucial is
reminding yourself of the goals you have and the willingness to achieve them. This way, it’s easier to let the past go, be thankful for what you have now and keep on enjoying the gift of life.

First steps on overcoming fear of driving

Getting over the trauma after a terrible incident is not something that comes overnight. It is a constant struggle and an everyday challenge to get over the past. After my accident, I had to take small steps day by day to slowly get out of my comfort zone.

First, I had to rest for a few days without leaving home to let my mind clear out. Then, I managed to go in the car and just get on the passenger seat. The next, and probably the toughest challenge was driving past the crash scene.

I couldn’t avoid this step – this place is a spot I drive past on my way to work every day. Even though I was on the passenger seat, I clenched my fists as if I was holding the steering wheel. I kicked the surface with
my feet like I was imagining myself stepping on the brake pedal. At the crash scene, my heartbeat stopped for a second, the pain coursed through my neck and…

… nothing happened. I survived all in one piece and the car was driving further with no problems. At this time I got to understand that it’s only my mind that is still dragging me into the shock and trauma. It is only my
the approach that can help me in getting over the anxiety and fear of driving.

Feel empowered

I realized that the car crash scene is not cursed. Accidents can happen anywhere and anytime on the road, but that shouldn’t stop us from driving. Don’t let the fear control you – grab the steering wheel of your life and control the fear and all your emotions. The feeling of empowerment that comes with controlling fear is something that can help us in any aspect of life.

After that moment, I knew I was ready for the last step of my therapy. Once again I felt in charge of my life and my decisions. Getting into the driver’s seat wasn’t a problem – I let the past go and drove away as if nothing happened.

Approach to fight the fear of driving

The most important part of getting over the fear of driving was changing my approach and being brave. The natural human reaction for any fear or anxiety is trying to push it away and blocking it. Of course, at first, I
acted the same way.

Thankfully, having my friends and family supporting me with wisdom, I managed to change my view of the problem. Instead of avoiding the fear, which was centered around the car crash scene, I welcomed the anxiety and invited it in.

I told myself that I don’t need to fear anything. I am a good driver, I got my seatbelt on and the car went through all the safety tests. There is no need to worry because I know how to drive carefully and responsibly.

Surely, there are different types of trauma. Many terrible events require weeks, months or even years to get over them. However, from my experience, I can definitely tell that despite the nature of your anxiety or fear, hiding is not the solution.

Running away from the problem will only make you forget it for a short period of time. And when it comes back, it will strike with double-force. You need to be open about your feelings and tell your close ones how you feel.

Face your fear, look it straight in the eye and get to know it. What’s important is that you are alive and strong because you survived. Do not live in the past, when the present and future have so much to offer.

Author's Bio: 

Blazej is the owner of Deal With Panic -
a website that shares useful techniques on overcoming panic and anxiety attacks. Its mission is spreading awareness on the topic of panic and anxiety and helping the sufferers in finding the right treatment and remedies.