There are many factors that contribute to the reason I do not like driving starting with the death of my brother. This may be the reason I struggle with what I believe to be rejection sensitive dysphoria. But can my driving issues be put down to neurodiversity? Mainly I think it is the social interactions with others on the road that I find the hardest. There are many more driving issues I face and I wonder if they are “normal” or a sign that I am Neurodiverse.
Driving Issues because of The Death of My Brother
Back on this day in 1981 a man hit my then 6 year old brother in a 30 miles an hour area, which subsequently resulted in his death. Knowing how dangerous cars are growing up has always made me really nervous. It actually took me 6 attempts to pass my test. This is obviously going to have had a big impact on my driving.
Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
My childhood trauma could be the reason I suffer from rejection sensitive dysphoria, an extreme emotional pain linked to feelings of rejection and shame. It is also common in those diagnosed with ADHD, which I have lately not ruled out (you may be interested in my struggles with keeping on top of paper for example).
This may have impacted me whilst learning to drive and on my test. The female instructor wouldn’t answer my questions – telling me I already knew the answers. She also told me that when she said I had done something “wrong” that I went into myself – and took it personally.
The silence of the driving exam would not have helped me at all – because it really gave a heightened sense of being judged. Obviously they need to critic the driving but for me it felt more about me.
My Suspected Autism
Sensory Issues when Driving
Previously I have mentioned that I may be autistic myself. When my eldest was diagnosed the paediatrician did hint at it too. There are several sensory issues I have when it comes to driving – one of which is how difficult I find driving in silence. My husband laughs that I have to have the radio on just to go down the road. Of course this is also how the driving test was performed.
Depending on the light I can really struggle. Lots of people I know don’t like driving in the dark, possibly more so for women not feeling as safe. But it also makes my already bad depth perception worse!
Touch is another problem I have. This can be as simple as the air con blowing on me – especially if it needs to be hot to demist the car. Or it can be how the belt feels against my skin, if my hair gets on my face and definitely if my nail breaks (the feeling just distracts me).
When it comes to driving for me things are very black and white a lot of the time. Actually I find things easier if I know the rules, that’s why driving in familiar areas are better for me. So for instance when I drove my son to Newport I tried to do the 30mph over the bridge. No-one else was and it makes it really difficult to stick to the rules. Especially when it started to get dangerous and people were trying to undertake me.
What’s really hard for me though is how easily people get cross when driving. They seem to think it is okay to shout and have a go at people. This is even harder when I do not feel I am in the wrong – even if this is just legally/the rules.
Fairly recently I had someone shouting at me when I was waiting to turn right out of a junction. Still to this day I do not know what they wanted me to do. My husband watched the dash cam footage for me and said they wanted me to reverse back so that they could turn around in the junction. He often tells me just to forget it – these things happen. But they affect me from then on in.
What has prompted this post however, is that tonight I went to park on a road I always park on to go to the hospital. Unfortunately it has a lot more double yellow lines on it than it used to and I was forced to park right by a school as they were leaving. A parked car moved off and I went into that space.
You see the thing is I would rather walk quite a distance but know I am okay to park places. This is a road I had parked on many times before. The only thing I was concerned about before leaving was that opposite where I was parked was a bus stop. It said school buses only – and there was no-one waiting there so I assumed it had gone. Also I know you can actually park opposite a bus stop.
The Aggression that goes with Driving
When I returned an hour later there were notes on my car – both front and back. Then a man hung out the window saying that I couldn’t park there. That I was blocking his drive! There was no drop kerb, no car on the “driveway” and in actual fact the kerb was pretty high to bump up. He was shouting at me not to do it again. Obviously I apologised but this really upset me, I do not understand why people have to be so aggressive. This is also the reason I hate petrol stations too – or generally just going where I don’t know where I am going properly. People just seem to lack patience and understanding.
Are these regular problems for everyone? Does anyone have any other driving difficulties?