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Anxious driver is compelled to take the wheel – Chicago Tribune



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

This began right after our daughter died in a car wreck in 2006. She was 19.

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

I feel like if I drive, everything and everyone will be OK because I’m a very safe driver. I also watch other cars like a hawk.


My husband hates this because I adhere to the speed limit, especially on the Interstate, where nobody drives the speed limit. He gripes the whole time.

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

I wish I could be the passenger so I could relax, enjoy the view or sleep. I cannot make myself relax; I’m so anxious and afraid.

I would like to get over this. I want to be unafraid – the way I used to be.

I’m tired of being afraid of everything. This manifests in other areas also.


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

– The Cowardly Lioness

Dear Lioness: I am aware of a designation that might apply to you: “CG,” or “Complicated Grief.”

For you, this manifests through your intrusive thoughts and the compulsive need to drive – otherwise you 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 brought this on is so tragic. And of course you are reminded of this every time you get into 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).

Knowing that your experience is caused by “a mental issue” is good, but in this case awareness is only the first step. I hope you will seek out a grief counselor or grief group to talk to about your loss. This is one step toward healing.

Your family doctor should also refer you to a psychiatrist or trauma specialist, who could help to set you on a healthier path through talk therapy, holistic coping techniques, and medication.

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


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

Basically they are in this vicious cycle where she ignores him and ices him out because she is so angry. He drinks all the time and will say mean things to her, and not remember later.

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

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

Can I talk to them both individually without overstepping?


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

She will not do therapy, which I think would benefit them both. He has been to therapy, but only randomly. I want to help them, but I’m unsure how.

– A Broken-hearted Sister

Dear Sister: You are obviously very fond of this couple and are deeply invested in trying to help them.

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


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

You would benefit from attending a “friends and family” support program such as Al-anon. If your sister will attend meetings with you, all the better.

Dear Amy: “Swim Parent” was carting a teenage neighbor back and forth to swim practice, with no help from her parents.

Ask Amy



No-nonsense advice for better living delivered to your inbox every morning. For a limited time, sign up for the Ask Amy newsletter and get the book “Ask Amy: Essential Wisdom from America’s Favorite Advice Columnist” for $5.

My parents were like that girl’s. They said that if I wanted to be in gymnastics, I had to find my own transportation. They never helped.

Thank God for other parents.

– Grateful Gymnast

Dear Grateful: Other kids’ parents have saved many childhoods.


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©2021 Amy Dickinson.

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