ASK AMY: Anxious driver is compelled to take the wheel

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Dear Amy: I have this “thing” of needing to drive, no matter whose vehicle it is. I have to drive. Otherwise, I’m a nervous wreck.

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This started right after our daughter died in a car accident in 2006. She was 19 years old.

I know this is a mental issue, but being aware of it doesn’t help.

I feel that if I drive, everything and everyone will be fine because I am a very safe driver. I also watch other cars like a hawk.

My husband hates this because I respect the speed limit, especially on the Interstate where no one drives the speed limit. He complains all the time.

He knows why I do this, but that doesn’t stop him from talking about how much it bothers him – and it makes me even more nervous.

I wish I could be the passenger so I could relax, enjoy the view or sleep. I can’t relax; I’m so anxious and scared.

I would like to get over it. I want to not be afraid – the way I used to be.

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I’m tired of being afraid of everything. This manifests itself in other areas as well.

Is there a name for this? Could my ADHD have something to do with it?

– The Cowardly Lioness

dear lioness: I am aware of a designation that may apply to you: “CG” or “Lugo Complicado”.

For you, this manifests itself through your intrusive thoughts and compulsive need to drive – otherwise, you will feel unbearably anxious.

You can feel better – and you will feel better – with treatment. (And yes, in my amateur opinion, your ADHD is related to this.)

The event that caused this is so tragic. And of course you are reminded of this every time you get in a car.

But your brain is working overtime trying to make the world safe, and your need to control some essentially uncontrollable aspects of your life must be exhausting for you (and yes, frustrating for others).

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Knowing that your experience is caused by “a mental problem” is good, but in this case awareness is just the first step. I hope you find a grief counselor or grief group to talk about your loss. This is a step towards healing.

Your GP should also refer you to a psychiatrist or trauma specialist, who can help you on a healthier path through speech therapy, holistic coping techniques, and medication.

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Dear Amy: My sister and her husband are in a bad situation. I love both. They have been together for over 20 years and have three young children. They were high school sweethearts.

I’ve known my brother-in-law since I was 12 years old. He’s like a brother to me and it hurts to see them both in pain.

Basically, they’re in this vicious cycle where she ignores him and freezes him because she’s so angry. He drinks all the time and will say mean things to her, and not remember it later.

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He drinks because he feels unloved and unappreciated. He recently made a comment to my husband about taking his own life.

I want to help both of them, whether they choose to be together or not.

Can I speak to both of them individually without overtaking?

Can I ask my sister to give him one more chance if he stops drinking and is more open to him?

She won’t be in therapy, which I think would benefit both of them. He went to therapy, but only at random. I want to help them, but I don’t know how.

– A heartbroken sister

Dear sister: You are obviously very fond of this couple and are deeply committed to trying to help them.

None of their efforts are likely to yield results, however, because this is their dysfunction and until one or both of them decide to change, they will continue this cycle.

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Yes, I think you should express your love and concern to each of them. Encourage them to get help.

You would benefit from participating in a “friends and family” support program such as Al-anon. If your sister comes to meetings with you, even better.

Dear Amy: “Swim Parent” was carrying a teenage neighbor to practice swimming, without the help of her parents.

My parents were like that girl’s. They said that if I wanted to do gymnastics, I would have to find my own transport. They never helped.

Thank God for other parents.

– Gratitude Gymnast

Dear Grateful: The parents of other children saved many childhoods.

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