Does anyone else have problems driving???

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by dd, Feb 7, 2003.

  1. dd

    dd New Member

    I was just wondering if anyone else is either afraid to drive anymore or can't.

    I have not driven much in the past 2 years because of multiple reasons. 2 years ago I stopped driving because I was too weak to do so and even if I did drive somewhere I was to weak to actually go into the stores and shop or even walk into a doctor's office. My husband started taking me to my doctor appts when he could. When he couldn't I would call and re-schedule for a time that was convenient for him. He also started to do all the grocery shopping for the family. 2 years ago my panic attacks started back again but this time they were 10 times worse. On days that I did feel like going out with him shopping I would get to the store and the panic would hit and we would have to leave. I don't know if this was because I was newly diagnosed with these DD's and my mind was on overload or what. Now I feel much better than I did then. I still deall with the fatigue on a daily basis but the vitamins and meds have helped tremendously. I used to have to use a motorized chair while I was shopping because my legs would just seem to give out and would feel like jello. In the last couple of months I have been able to shop without the motorized chair because I am feeling better physically.

    Since I have been feeling a bit better I thought that I could start helping with the shopping and all again, by myself. My first outing I got to the store and was almost done shopping when my legs gave out again. I just started to feel weak again. On the way home I had a really bad panic attack and had to pull of the road. I have tried several times to go back out and I get panic attacks from hell and have to turn around and come home. This is making me crazy. Now that I feel like I can contribute a little bit more to the family I can't because of these attacks. God forbid I have one with one of my precious sons in the car with me. I just wish I could get in and drive like i used to. I don't know if it is the fear of getting somewhere and suddenly feeling sick again or what. For the past 2 years I have not gone anywhere without someone with me because I had to have someone drive me there. I am so sick and tired of being dependent on someone else. Now that I am feeling a bit better I want to try and enjoys things taking the kids to the movies or to the mall but these panic attacks are relentless. I do take Xanax for them but it has little or no affect at all.

    Anyone have any advice? Anyone else gone/going thru this?



    P.S. I just wanted to add something to the above. When I do drive I feel as if my perception of distance is off balance somehow. This makes me feel spacy and disoriented, like dizzy when looking out for other cars. This is different from the panic attacks although I suppose it could lead to a panic attack. I can't drive at night at all because the lights bother me and I see a halo on ALL lights at night. Really strange. I used to love to drive at night...less traffic.
    [This Message was Edited on 02/07/2003]
  2. Annette2

    Annette2 New Member

    Hi Debbie. I read your post and can totally sympathize with you! I had these problems for years! When I first started driving, I was petrified! I could only go certain places, and not venture anywhere else. I couldn't drive the highways, only city streets. Are you seeing a therapist? I think you need to find someone you can talk to, who really understands anxiety disorders. I found that to be much better than all the medications I've taken. Now I'm able to drive the highway to work and am not scared anymore. I also know what you mean when you described feeling spacy and disoriented while driving. I had those symptoms - it was a dissociative disorder. You feel as if you're out of your body. When I drove on the highway I would feel as if I wasn't in my body - I couldn't feel the steering wheel and it felt as if the car would just take off and fly into the air. I would be petrified!!!! No medicine helped that - I found a wonderful therapist and talked about it. Dissociative disorders are a form of anxiety. By the way, I've had this problem for over 40 years - it had nothing to do with FMS. Of course, feeling stressed about being ill doesn't help your anxiety level. I hope this helps - please try to find a good therapist - it will make a big difference in how you feel!

    Annette2 :)
  3. lin21

    lin21 New Member

    Hi Debbie,

    I asked this question a few weeks. I was recently diagnosed and haven't been really doing any driving since July. I take my daughter to school three blocks away and that's it. Unless I feel okay I try to go the supermarket(very close by about 10 blocks). The other day I decided I had to go for something and I felt the panic attack coming on, I got over it but I just made it home.
    My husband has been taking me to the out of town Dr.'s for the past several months and next month it looks like I'm going to have to drive myself. I don't even want to think about it. I'm going to see if I could get someone to come along for the ride just in case.

    Feel good.
  4. dd

    dd New Member

    for your responses. I am in therapy right now for depression and anxiety disorder. I have discussed this issue with him many many times. His only advice is to get over the fear and get behind the wheel. He says that it is mind over matter. The only helpful thing that he did suggest is that I drive when I go shopping with my husband so that I could maybe get my confidence back again. I have done that and do quite well when there is an adult with me while I'm driving. This is so frustrating!!! I know that a lot of the fear comes from not having someone there with me in case I do become ill. There are times that I am out with my husband and have felt good all day and then wham I start with the pains in my legs, back, neck, shoulders. At least he is there with me and can drive me home. I don't what to do.

    Thanks and God bless.

  5. lease79

    lease79 New Member

    I am so glad you posted this, as I feel much the same way :(
    I have three little kids & after a massive Panic Attack in a shopping centre June last year I have gradually gotten worse :(
    I think I had my first 'real' panic attack a couple of years ago whilst I was having an MRI of my head/brain.
    It brought back memories of being trapped in a car after an accident. Something that I was well over & that hadn't bothered me for ages.
    Since then I regressed to the point that I couldn't go in highrise car parks, or underground ones, or I'd instantly have a panic attack.
    Now I wont drive unless it is just up the street to get the mail or something simple like that. Doesn't mean I wont have a panic attack either :(
    I can't do the shopping & Jace now does it all. I can't even go with him.
    If I am outside or driving I suffer terribly from depersonalisation/derealisation (think they are the right words) where everything feels unreal & like I'm not really there:(
    I occasionally have good days, but more than not I have bad ones.
    My front yard feels safe sometimes, but beyond that I will have a panic attack :(
    I HATE being like this, as I have always been a fiercely independant person & I HATE being so dependant on my hubby for everything :(
    I am due to have another baby in 10 weeks & the thought of having to go to the hospital scares the pee out of me :(
    My doc did offer to put me back on meds, but I think that I'll wait it out until the baby is here.
    I can & do take a very low dose (2mg) of diazapam if things get too crazy.

  6. pamj

    pamj New Member

    I had to stop driving a year and a half ago when I blacked out and called 911 from my car. Part of it was definitely panic, but it was brought on by the type of symptoms you describe in your "p.s.".

    Many of us get sensory overload, and it makes it difficult to focus on several things at once, which is what you have to do when you drive. Also, the perception problem had been happening to me for a while before that, even when I walk. I always hold hubby's hand when we go shopping or I get off balance & dizzy.

    Unfortunately, people who don't understand why we don't drive may think it can be fixed by just getting back in the car, but they don't realize that it's not like an elevator or airplane. You can't get rid of the panic when you're responsible for safety. We can't always control the panic that comes from sensory overload. If I'm in a noisy place, like a restaurant, I sometimes start to get lightheaded and disoriented trying to focus on the conversation. I then have to close my eyes & sort of meditate to get through it... this is something we can't do when we're driving cause we have to keep paying attention.

    I understand the frustration you have about having to depend on others, I have to have my husband take me everywhere too. Unfortunately I'll have to get used to it for a while longer, since I won't allow myself to drive until I feel that I can do it safely.

    Maybe you can try to drive with another adult in the car on days that you are feeling better than usual. Or if you are alone, do not go more than a few blocks from home, so that if you start to feel bad you can go right back safely.

    I hope you are able to resolve this problem soon. It definitely feels good when we feel like we're able to do "normal" things.

    take care, Pam
  7. nickbeth

    nickbeth New Member

    I have the same issues, and it's not like vertigo where you can just force yourself through some desensitization process, there are lives at stake. It is a lot like sensation overload, and I get some of the same things happen in conversations or at the mall or in any environment where there is a lot going on all at the same time. I once drove right through a red light at night in a busy intersection because the lights just didn't register. I would really encourage you to stay within your comfort zone on this one, at least as far as the driving is concerned. Push your limits while walking through the neighborhood or something, but please not behind the wheel of a car.
  8. pearls

    pearls New Member

    My driving problems don't involve anxiety, but I do have problems. I haven't driven at night much since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I find night driving more difficult because of the halo effect with lights and perception problems. I can still drive, even at night, but I have to concentrate, concentrate, CONCENTRATE! All this tires me out a lot.

    Even in the daytime, I notice I have to fight the urge to fall asleep much of the time. I drink cold water, turn on the air conditioning, work hard at giving it all my attention and often use coffe medicinally before I leave. I also take a Provigil in the morning to help my concentration, which helps with the driving, too. However, if I take two Provigils, my husband complains that all I do is blabber. "Blab, blab, blab!"

  9. JannyW

    JannyW New Member

    I haven't driven much in the last 6 months ... partly due to meds and partly due to my mental state. My partner usually drives me wherever I need to go, unless I put my foot down & insist I can do it myself! But I'm not all that comfortable behind the wheel anymore with all the meds I'm taking.

    Jan ^v^
  10. nancyneptune

    nancyneptune New Member

    about 50 miles one way every 3 months to see my shrink. If I didn't have cruise control I'd be in trouble cause I start getting real weak and panicky after about 20 miles. My foot wouldn't stay on the gas pedal. It feels like my leg is rubber.
    I also get the halos around on coming headlights and they hurt my eyes. Then I get disoriented and can't see the road.
    By the time I get home from driving 100 miles I'm utterly exhausted and have to take a nap. I've driven cross country from Illinois to Arizona three times before I got this D/D. It was sooo fun. Now I'd never make it. Makes me very sad.
  11. klutzo

    klutzo New Member

    I was a Psychiatric Social Worker before FMS sidelined me, and my number one recommendation to you is to fire that therapist! Telling you to use mind over matter on panic disorder is absurd, unprofessional, and just plain wrong! Did he/she get his/her diploma through the mail? (you can tell this really fries me!)
    The first thing you need to do,IMO, is have an echocardiogram to make sure you don't have a Mitral valve Prolapse (MVP). 75% of FMSers have one, and it strongly predisposes you to panic attacks. If you have one, you can help lower the incidence of panic by: drinking a quart of water for every 50 lbs. body weight, taking 60 mgs. COQ10 daily, taking at least 300 mgs. magnesium daily, not lifting heavy objects. Inderal or other beta-blockers are often the first med used if you have MVP as a basis for your panic.
    If MVP is not part of the mix, Neurontin, Klonopin, Luvox or other SSRI's, Inderal, Ativan or Xanax can all help this problem, but I would try Neurontin or Klonopin first. Ativan and Xanax can actually cause panic, unless you take them around the clock, which is what I have to do, since I am hooked on Xanax for dealing with my panic. I do not drive at night because my balance was damaged in the accident that started my FMS, and I only drive short distances in the day time. I always take an extra 1/4 tab of Xanax under my tongue before driving.
    Breathing exercises can help immensely as well, since you can't panic when you are breathing from your abdomen.
    Hypoglycemia is strongly associated with panic disorder. Are you a big eater of sweets and other processed foods? If so, try eliminating them and eating five small meals daily, with protein at each meal.
    Cognitve Behavioral Thearpy can help with panic problems, and usually takes about 3 months to get results.
    Sorry this is so long, but I had a lot to say.
    In empathy,
  12. Combatmedic

    Combatmedic New Member

    1) sensory overload. Sometimes it's just the radio, a/c or heat, other cars, or if the window is cracked just a sliver (I'm a smoker) I cannot take all of that, along with watching what I'm doing, and the rest of the cars around me. It's just too much.

    2) severe night blindness. I cannot see well, especially in town, with so much streetlights, business lights, and oncoming traffic's headlights, I become confused and panicky. I made the mistake of driving at night, here in town around Christmas time. The lights were terrible,, all those flashing, chasing lights and stuff, blinking, etc. Some were verrrrry close to the road.

    3) I have unpredictable attacks with my pancreas, and when I have them, I cannot even speak, much less drive. I once had to lay down in the front seat of my car for about an HOUR one time, in the Wal-Mart parking lot, crying in pain. I was scared to death that someone would see me, and either think that I was on drugs, alcohol, or that they would want to help, and would call 911. It's best to leave me be until the attacks pass. The ER can do nothing, so, I wouldn't have wanted anyone to call 911. I would have died from embarrassment.

    4) cognitive problems are so bad, that I am not a safe driver. Even before I got too sick to work, I'd be on the interstate, and not really remember the previous 10 miles. It was as if I had been asleep and just suddenly woke up! Scary. I once "woke up" to a semi honking his horn at me, as I was about a foot away from his front tires with the front right side of my car!!!!!! That was by far the scariest. I was really shook up when I got to work.
    I've also turned acrossed traffic, and not even looked before hand, at least I couldn't remember whether or not I had looked before turning.

    Then there's #5, and that is I can't sit for too long, but, that goes for riding, as well as driving.

    I'm sure there's other reasons too, but, I think those are enough.

  13. dd

    dd New Member

    I really appreciate each and every one of you. I wanted to post this question many times but didn't because I felt somehow this was my fault...even though I know it isn't.

    I thank you all for taking the time to post because now I don't feel so all alone. I wish that none of us had to suffer with panic if having the rest of these DD's weren't enough already. From reading all of your replies I can see that most of us have very similar problems with driving.

    I do have a question for Klutzo...What kind of doctor would you recommend for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? I am willing to give anything a chance right now. I do have MVP and Hypoglycemia. I have had MVP since I was 20...I am 38 now. I was diagnosed with Hypoglycemia about a year ago. I am on the Atkin's Diet to help control the Hypo. It has worked quite well for me. I have tried Inderal but it gave me severe heart palpitations so I had to stop taking it. I do take all the supplements that you mentioned also. I take Xanax for the anxiety.

    God bless you all. Lease, congrats on your soon to be little bundle of joy.

    Here's to better days ahead for all of us!!!


  14. klutzo

    klutzo New Member

    I am glad you're on Atkins, and that you know about your MVP. Do you have regurgitation? If so, then another beta-blocker like Tenormin might be tried, before going to the other types of drugs, but personally, I think the ones that act on the brain do a better job with less side-effects.
    I would call every psychologist, psychiatrist and therapist in your area until you find one who does Cognitive Beahvioral Therapy (CBT). If there aren't any, you're a pretty smart cookie, and with a little research you can probably devise your own behavioral program. That is what I did when I started having panic. It basically involves slowly exposing yourself to the situations where you panic, one step at at time, until you are comfortable with each step...then you move to the next step. Eventually though, I had to take Xanax because the reactions were so swift, I could not even begin the breathing exercises before I was in full-fledged panic. I believe this is due to the sensory overload, which is why I am now trying Neurontin. I have not had a panic attack since 1/8/02 though, because of 1) making sure I take 1/4 of a xanax no further apart than 6 hrs., and 2) doing abdominal breathing exercises at the start of symptoms, and 3) stop moving when an attack starts. If you are walking, the movement requires that your body put out adrenaline so you have the energy to move, which escalates panic, 4) avoid major triggers,which for me are noisy crowds, very hot or cold places, and walking uphill, and 5) a high protein diet. Only you can say what your triggers are.
    BTW, a study of all panic treatments by the APA (American Psychological Association) showed these treatments to be most effective in the following order: 1) Luvox, 2) CBT, 3) Xanax, 4) Inderal, 5) SSRI's other than Luvox. Luvox is an SSRI and I don't recommend it unless you also have severe depression and are only going to be on it a short time (read Cheney's article on what SSRI's do to our brains). I took Luvox for 3 yrs. and only had one panic attack the whole time, but it destroyed my memory,which scared the heck out of me.
    Keep us posted on what you try and how it goes for you.