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Fear of passing out while driving - advice?
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Hey everyone, just want to say right off the bat that this seems like a great forum. I've already read lots of fantastic, highly accurate advice for dealing with anxiety and panic on here. I am very familiar with the teachings of Dr. Claire Weekes, and have used those teachings to guide me to a place where I am drastically less anxious than I was half a year ago, when I was at my absolute worst and not even wanting to leave the house. I've accepted that anxiety and panic are very uncomfortable, but not dangerous, and this has taken me very far.
Unfortunately, there is one thing still causing me trouble. I've heard that panic can occasionally cause a person to faint - either from hyperventilating or just being totally overwhelmed (?). While this knowledge doesn't bother me quite the way it used to I am still undoubtedly upset by the notion when I feel anxious or panicky behind the wheel. I will point out a few things here:
- I'm 20 years old.
- I've had on and off bad anxiety and a decent amount of panic attacks since I was about 12.
- I have never fainted for any reason in my entire life.
Makes my worry seem pretty silly, doesn't it? Part of me knows it is, and I'm embarrassed to admit it, but it still freaks me out. I guess it's because while in other situations, I feel I am truly in no danger, when I'm driving I feel that I absolutely AM in danger if I should faint, which makes accepting that possibility extremely difficult for me. How do I approach this?
I'm truly no longer bothered by any other anxious thought or feeling, it's just this.
Any advice? Thanks so much for taking the time to read this.
I can relate. Driving was the last place my anxiety was hiding. Although “accepting” feels hard to do while operating a vehicle at high speeds, it’s still exactly what needs to be done.
My anxiety was triggered on road trips where I was driving other people and their kids. Driving on unfamiliar freeways and responsible for other people’s lives would make my anxiety go off the charts. My wife would offer to drive as she knew how I felt, but I would say no. If I stopped doing it, I’d be giving anxiety the power. So every trip was a chance to practice for me.
You already know that it’s an irrational fear because you have no history with fainting. It’s just a thought that scares you and creates that spike in adrenaline. Don’t add the second fear.
Same old story. Symptoms arise I.e heart starts to race, hands start sweating, stomach churns, etc.
So accept these feelings. Instead of trying to get out of the uncomfortable feeling, try to make the symptoms worse, try to make your hands sweatier... when focusing on the symptoms and calling the bluff, the symptoms start to fade and you can go back to listening to music or fave podcast again stress free.
If you don't have an history with fainting, in a panic state you will
People who tend to faint in panic, have an history of fainting before. because it is extremely difficult for you to faint while panicking, because your body it's constantly getting shots of adrenaline. You can`t faint from hyperventilating. you can feel pretty drowsy but never faint because of that. the only people that can faint as I said, are very sensible to fainting in general, and the excess of CO2 can cause them to faint. (this people tend to faint very often, like for example when they get a blood test or their blood pressure suddenly drops)
If you are so afraid of fainting, you should test you theory. Hyperventilate the most you can, for 2 minutes. best if you are feeling a little panicky, test this and see for yourself. even if you aren't afraid of anything as you said, you still have this belief that you can faint while having a panic attack while driving, which is pretty irrational. so you need to practice more of the acceptance method with this beliefs.
Experiment with feelings of fainting. get comfortable with fainting. I used to have this fears too. but I soon realize that even if I faint, why I should be afraid?, it's just fainting. you quickly wake up after seconds of losing conscience. It's just aprehensión and the need for control. you could faint while driving, but you have a much greater chance to faint while feeling tired and fatigued than in a panic attack.
If you have never fainted in a panic attack, you will not faint this time. Even if you faint at a panic attack, you would very soon recover conscience, maybe in fragments of a second, because of the constant release of adrenaline that will wake you up immediately.
You still need to practice acceptance, because this are thoughts from an mind that has the need for control, don't try to control, accept that even being conscious can be out of your own control. But you will be fine!.
You Can Do This~
Thank you guys for the responses!
Yeah, you're definitely right Shen, this is just an irrational worry that is really no different from all the other ones I've had in the past, it just FEELS scarier in the moment. I have no trouble applying that total acceptance mindset when I'm not driving, I've just found it difficult to do so when I am. I do know that it's extremely rare to faint during a panic, it's just that stupid "what if I'm one of the people it'll happen to?!" thought that embarrassingly scares me.
And great point about the need for control...for me I think my greatest "core fear" is being rendered helpless, which this fainting while driving worry very much feeds into. I will continue to work on this until it's no longer something that bothers me.
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