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Anxiety on long journeys

J

_james

New member
Joined
Mar 20, 2019
Messages
3
Location
UK
Hi all, this is my first post, so thanks for taking the time to read.

I’ve been suffering with anxiety and panic attacks for all my adult life, 20+ years. I’ve had therapy and CBT in the past, but its never really helped.

My main trigger for anxiety/panic is when I’m presented with (or know I’m going to be) in a situation where I’ve had anxiety/panic before.

In the last year or so I’ve developed issues with long car journeys (I think this stems from having anxiety while travelling to the airport as I’ve had panic attacks on aeroplanes before), even having full panic attacks while driving.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be making a 4 hour car journey with my wife (who’s very supportive) to attend a funeral. I’m already starting to feel anxious about the trip.

Can anyone offer any advice that may make the journey (and build up to it) easier?

Note that my anxiety doesn’t stem from a fear of cars or motorways or crashing, etc - it’s the fear of having a panic attack because I’ve had one in a similar situation before.

Another big cause of anxiety is if I feel like I can’t breathe, this could be triggered by dust, pollution, a crumb of food, etc. This makes breathing excercises difficult (impossible) for me as anything which forces me to control or be conscious of my breathing increases my anxiety.

Thanks.
 
Lunar Lady

Lunar Lady

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 19, 2019
Messages
3,205
Location
UK
Hi James!

I can really relate to your situation - I've had a few terrifying panic attacks whilst driving - followed by intense anxiety at the prospect of having to drive...

We're all unique, so I don't know what will work for you - but here are a few suggestions:

Sounds daft, I know, but I found sucking a menthol sweet in the car kept me calm...you can't open your mouth and start over-breathing and the menthol opens your airways and makes you feel comfortable. Also, it keeps your mouth moist with saliva and the gentle jaw movement keeps those muscles relaxed. I kept that up for about a year after the panic attacks stopped because it just made me feel more in control and relaxed.

Maybe book yourself a massage for the day before the journey.

Acupuncture helps with a range of problems, including anxiety. I found acupuncture incredibly effective in controlling my asthma, so that might help you.

Have you thought about hypnotherapy?

Long term, Tai Chi has really helped me control my breathing and relax more.

I guess, anything that you find relaxing and calming will be beneficial. The most important thing is not to build the journey up in your mind as something potentially traumatic.

Maybe plan your route so you have a proper break every hour at a service station. If you plan it out beforehand, your subconscious will absorb the fact that you are not going on one very long journey - you're actually making four regular journeys on the same day ;)

Hope it goes well x
 
Fairy Lucretia

Fairy Lucretia

Well-known member
Forum Guide
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Apr 9, 2011
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33,206
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Magical fairy wonderland xxxx
i found this hope helps

When traveling, it's not uncommon to focus more on your symptoms. One way to manage them is to put your focus elsewhere. Instead of concentrating on the sensations in your body, try to bring your attention to other activities. For example, you can bring along a good book, favorite magazines, or enjoyable games. Turn your negative thoughts around by diverting your attention to happier thoughts or visualize yourself in a serene scene. Use affirmations to center on more calming thoughts, such as repeating to yourself “I am safe” or “These feelings will pass.”

x
 
G

gam9147

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Joined
Feb 18, 2019
Messages
369
Location
Delaware, USA
The good news is these kinds of panic attacks are very treatable even if they seem very scarey now. You should definitely look into some therapy and possibly medications. Exposure therapy has a very high success rate treating phobias and panic attacks.

We've all been there about having panic and anxiety attacks about panic and anxiety attacks. It is a very difficult cycle to break. You have to slowly build confidence in yourself, and definitely use some crutches to help you feel better along the way. There is hope though!
 
J

_james

New member
Joined
Mar 20, 2019
Messages
3
Location
UK
Thanks for all the suggestions - will work through them.
 
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