Nearly 4 years ago I was in a bad car accident on the freeway. I was uninjured, which is surprising since I rear-ended someone who slammed on their brakes, and I was going in excess of 45 miles an hour. Also, my airbags never deployed. It was fairly awesome, if by awesome you mean it totally sucked. I walked away uninjured, although my car definitely did not, and I was fine.
As the winter progressed, though, I became less fine. Finally, on my way back from seeing my sister for her birthday, I was driving down a freeway I've driven on dozens of times before, and I had a horrible panic attack. I thought I was going to faint while driving. I was light-headed and I couldn't catch my breath. My heart felt like it was going to beat through my chest. This definitely rates on one of my top five worst moments. It was way worse than the actual accident ever was.
After that day, I couldn't drive on the freeway for over a year. I had panic attacks even riding in the car when someone else was driving on the freeway. We found a lot of backroads ways to get the places we needed to go. It drove Aaron nuts, and I wasn't too fond of feeling like this either. I was a mess, in more ways than just this one. I didn't think I'd survive the winter, but then spring came and the sun reappeared and I got much, much better.
But I still hated driving on the freeway.
We bought a new, bigger, safer car. I slowly eased up to driving on the freeway by taking short cross-town jaunts. A year after that I was able to drive on the freeway for a decent distance, and even added in the cruise control again; something I couldn't handle up to that point. However, I still couldn't do either of those things in our smaller car, the one I was driving when the accident occurred.
I had to take the freeway to drive from work to my OB's office for nearly every appointment I had during my pregnancy. If they took by blood pressure after driving on the freeway, it was sky high. If they took it after I used the back roads to get there, it was normal. So, obviously, still not over the whole freeway phobia thing.
I had to drive to Detroit today, on some of the busiest, scariest freeways I've ever seen. I drove the small car. I used cruise control. And I only felt slightly light-headed one time and it was very brief. Then I drove home again. I did it! I can't believe it's been more than four years and I'm still dealing with these issues, but I'm beyond excited that I've made such progress.