Two or three years ago, driving down a steep hill (friends who know the Ionia area know the one, on M66 before downtown Ionia), the car I was driving spun out of control. The road was a sheet of ice and the car had bad tires and poor alignment. It was a huge blessing that no other cars were near, as my car did a 180 degree turnabout and I crossed the median, almost winding up in the car dealership on the corner. Fortunately, my car didn’t jump the curb. I was so shaken.
I still work in Ionia. I am terrified of that hill when there’s snow or freezing rain.
Today, half of my drive to work was fine. When I got to about the halfway point, I was suddenly in a whiteout, creeping along with the cars around me on I96 at 25-30 mph. I almost missed my exit because I couldn’t see it, and when I finally did exit, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Then I remembered I still had to tackle The Hill. My knuckles already white, my muscles tense and aching, the thought of driving down that hill sent me into panic mode. Anxiety hitting me full-force in the chest, making it hard to breathe, I nearly stopped my car to call in to work and tell them I was not able to make it into the office, but the knowledge that I’d already gotten more than 3/4 of the way to my destination made me forge ahead.
Of course, the drift down that slush-covered, steep incline lasted an hour, all the while my mind racing with images of fiery crashes, broken glass and my motherless children crying at my graveside.
I’m going to hazard a guess that while driving in bad weather probably causes some stress for anyone, my reaction was a little extreme by those ‘normal’ standards.
Thus is my life with anxiety. I’m often great at talking myself through situations that fry my nerves… but I often fail as well. Everything is extreme, until I repeatedly remind myself it isn’t, really.
Still, I’m thankful to be home now and not driving!