I have wrestled with my health and physical limits for so long, I had forgotten how to ask for help when I need it. I feel discouraged and frustrated because my body cannot perform as it is supposed to, and I finally swallowed my pride and sought out help from our local mental health services and medication management.
I talked to a clinician on Friday about starting counselling and med management, as well as applying for disability. I know I need help with the boiling emotions in regards to my past, and the depression I feel because I struggle to move around each day. I also mentioned that I cannot drive due to overwhelming panic attacks at the idea of getting behind the wheel, and that I need help figuring out how to manage them. They have gotten so bad that I feel like I can’t breathe, my hands shake, my chest tightens up, and my vision goes gray.
I was able to complete driver’s ed in 2007, but my permit expired with no chance to get any road experience. I explained how I have to think about and remember everything that driving entails, it isn’t second nature or muscle memory, it is a detailed mental pep-talk so that I don’t crash into the end of someone’s parked car. I have several bad memories of trying to drive in the past, and none ended with an increase of confidence on my part.
My ex tried to force me to drive his car around his parent’s yard when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter, strong-arming me into the driver’s seat and shouting at me to park the vehicle. I tried to buckle up and he wouldn’t let me, and argued with me as I panicked, almost crashing into a wooden swing set and tree. I slammed on the brake and almost hit my pregnant belly on the steering wheel. This experience was enough proof for me not to try again out of reliving the fear I felt during that.
After I left him with my daughter, we lived with my folks and siblings for almost a year. Spring of 2007 we got a call about my dad’s youngest sister was in the hospital, dying of lung cancer. We drove down immediately from Maine to New Jersey to see her, and to introduce my daughter to her (they had never seen my daughter, it was one of the many forbidden things when I lived with my ex.) During our visit (we stayed about 4 days) we drove to see one of my dad’s friends who owned a plant nursery. He offered to take us all 4-wheeling, and everyone got to drive around his property with the “Gater”, my daughter loved it, begging for me to try driving too. I tried driving it, but had trouble navigating through some trees, and my sister started screaming behind me “We’re all gonna die!” over and over. I froze up in a panic attack, and the tractor ended up in a ditch, wedged up against the end of a culvert drain. It was not fun at all.
Even with these things happening everyone kept pressuring me to drive, so after driver’s ed I attempted to drive my dad’s car to the grocery store, but was so shaken I refused to drive back to the house. The last time I drove was with my female bio-donor, and I struggled to remember my classes due to it being dark, and having a panicking passenger hanging on the door shouting instructions and threats at me.
As you can imagine, I don’t drive anymore nowadays. Just writing about these different episodes of trauma or panic has my chest tight and my heart pounding like I ran a mile. The clinician said that there might be meds I can take PRN for these panic attacks, because living with them sure isn’t working out for me thus far. I hope to hear back from KBH and med management this week, so things can get better.