Passed My Driving Test!

I (finally) passed my driving test today after months and months of lessons. I’m really glad that I passed because I made the mistake of telling everyone in my family that I was sitting my test today, which put the pressure on. I really didn’t think I was going to pass first time because the two lessons I had before the test didn’t go very well, and I was sure that my anxiety was going to get the better of me, but I managed to keep it under control. I’m glad that all the money I spent on lessons didn’t go to waste and that I decided to change from my old, critical instructor (who made me want to give up on driving completely) to the instructor who helped me to pass. I’m very grateful that this instructor helped me to stay reasonably calm and brought me on a lot with my driving. She congratulated me after my test today and told me that my driving ability is good but I just lack confidence in myself. Lacking confidence in myself has been the story of my life since I was around 11 or 12 years old.

It’s taken me a lot longer to pass than most people but most people don’t suffer the same level of anxiety that I do. Having SA makes learning to drive considerably more difficult. As well as the usual anxiety about driving itself, there’s also the anxiety about what other drivers/ pedestrians are thinking of us, performance anxiety, and anxiety around saying something stupid to the instructor. As an SA person, I found it very difficult to drive well and make conversation with my instructor at the same time. Even when not driving, making conversation with someone outside of my family generally requires a lot of concentration and mental effort. So when you add driving (which also requires a lot of concentration and mental effort when you’re new to it) into the mix, it can be really tough, and I found that one of the two was often sabotaged at the expense of trying to do the other well.

I’ve been really up and down lately. I’m feeling miserable on and off about my whole situation in life and the isolation, particularly at university. I also feel extremely pessimistic about my future employment prospects. However, I had a very busy weekend (by my standards) which made me feel a lot better. Even just something as simple as going for a walk and talking with someone can boost my mood considerably, though I do feel lonely again now. I met up with two people who I originally met at two different SA groups. I only see the organiser of the old SA group once every few months as she’s so busy with her course and goes back home to the south of England during the holidays, but I consider her a friend. It was only the second time I’ve met up alone with the other woman but hopefully there’s a potential friendship there as well. I think half the battle is getting myself out of the “You have no friends except online friends and never will have any” mindset. I’m always reluctant to refer to someone as my friend out of fear that they’ll abandon me or that they don’t like me as much as I like them, so tend to wait until I can at least see that the feeling is mutual. And sometimes even if the feeling appears to be mutual, I still won’t refer to them as my friend if I feel that they’d reject me if I tried to open up about my mental health issues. As I’ve said before, I think I can only make friends with other sufferers of mental illness because it seems that most people who haven’t experienced those things simply can’t understand them. Maybe someday I’ll be able to be friends with those people but I think I should stick to fellow sufferers for now if I want to succeed in making friends.

Maintaining friendships is usually even more difficult for me than forming friendships as I’m always paranoid that the other person doesn’t actually like me and is just putting up with me out of politeness, and that it’ll only be a matter of time before they abandon me. I worry that I come across as really weird and rude because of my anxiety. I also worry that I come across as boring and lazy because I usually leave it up to the other person to decide what to do if I’m meeting up with someone. I do this because a) I go out places with other people so infrequently that I wouldn’t really be able to come up with any good suggestions anyway, b) I’m afraid that they won’t like my suggestions and will want to stop meeting up with me because of this, and c) I’m quite a laid-back person so I’m almost always happy to go along with whatever the other person suggests, and I prefer if I know that we’re doing something that they enjoy/ want to do, rather than suggesting something that they might not enjoy or want to do. Nonetheless, I still feel like I’m annoying them.

I have no classes next week due to most of the other people on my course going off on the residential Algarve trip that I went on last year, so I’ll try to finally post some of the blog updates that I’ve been meaning to write for months.


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10 Responses to Passed My Driving Test!

  1. Congratulations on passing your driving test! πŸ™‚ It’s a big step for someone with anxiety.

    I’ve been wanting to get my license for a long time but my anxiety is holding me back. I worry about silly things like ‘what if my car breaks down in the middle of the road and I’m too nervous to ask for help?’, ‘what if I get in someone’s way?’ or ‘what if I can’t reverse park?’. It’s kind of funny how I’m more afraid of being judged for my driving than having an accident.

    • Gemma says:

      Thank you. πŸ™‚ It’s understandable to feel that way when you have intense SA. I think most people with SA probably need significantly more driving experience than non-socially anxious people before they’re able to pass their test, but we can get there eventually. Finding the right instructor is half the battle as well. If I’d stayed with the old, critical instructor, I don’t think I’d ever have passed my test, but the instructor who helped me pass was more patient and calm, and improved my confidence a lot.

  2. Smiling Through Recovery says:

    How did you manage to stay calm? I have SA and have my 3rd test very soon…I drive perfectly in lessons…the test..a whole different story, I end up doing one stupid mistake.

    • Gemma says:

      I didn’t, really. I suppose what allowed me to pass was the fact that I had A LOT of lessons. Maybe (depending on how soon it is) you could get a prescription for propranolol (if you do, try it out at some point before your test in case it gives you any side effects that might interfere with your driving). All I can really advise is treat it as if it is just another lesson. What is it that makes you most anxious? Is it the fact that you’re being tested on your ability, or is it the presence of the tester?

      • Smiling Through Recovery says:

        I’m on citalopram for anxiety but I was for the previous tests too so IDK if thats working. I think what makes me anxious if the tester watching me driving…like I kept focusing on whether he was writing stuff down or not…:/

      • Gemma says:

        I know it’s really difficult, but try to ignore the tester as much as possible. Pretend that it’s your instructor in the car with you. And remember that they may not be writing anything negative down. Try and distract yourself from the tester by focusing on what’s going on in front of you/ with other drivers as much as possible.

      • Smiling Through Recovery says:

        thank you so much! im trying to tell myself not to give up trying, cause I really need to pass. I think it adds more pressure because im leaving for uni in September and wanted to get it out of the way before that

      • Gemma says:

        No problem. πŸ™‚ Congrats on going to uni. Try not to pressure yourself into passing before then. All you can do is try your best, and you did say that you drive perfectly during lessons, so you will definitely pass eventually. It’s just the anxiety that’s holding you back. But it can be done. It took me a lot longer to pass than it does for most people, but I got there eventually. I’m sure you can too. πŸ™‚

      • Smiling Through Recovery says:

        thank you, i hope so πŸ™‚ im just afraid i wont pass before my theory runs out in 2 years

      • Gemma says:

        I’m sure you will. πŸ™‚

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