Passing My Driving Test With Anxiety

It's no secret that I have anxiety, I'm pretty open about this as I want to share my story, I want to break the stigma on what anxiety really is. When I first started my driving lessons I never thought I would be sat here, telling the world that I've passed my practical driving test.

My first ever driving lesson was sprung upon me on Mothers Day 2016, I had no idea it was coming as little bear (Stephen) had got me it as part of my mother's day gift. I spoke about starting my lessons with Stephen and said I would do it when I felt ready but he surprised me with my first ever lesson. At first I was angry because I wanted to do it in my own time but after sitting in that drivers seat, I was over the moon. My first lesson went better than expected and I continued to have a further 6/7 lessons. I then took some time away due to money and other commitments and didn't start again until May 2018.

This time round I was way more nervous, my anxiety was with me throughout, with every lesson came more anxiety and by the end I was crying every lesson. I would sit in the car, sobbing my eyes out due to being very hard on myself and hating that my anxiety controlled me. My driving instructor, Brian, was AMAZING! He was the right amount of firm yet soft, when I cried he would console me, hug me and make me feel better, he reminded me of my grandad to be honest and I think that's what put me at ease. I was the thing standing in my own way, my anxiety was stopping me from being confident and I knew that myself. After the lessons I would go home and cry to my gran about how awful I done, I felt like a terrible driver but Brian done nothing but build me up. He constantly told me I was a good driver and to believe it, to believe in myself. He would praise my parralel parking, I was even told I done the best reverse parking he had seen in all his time teaching people to drive. He would tell me how good a driver I was, that I done it with ease but it was my lack of confidence that was stopping me and I knew that myself.

How did I pass? The truth is I didn't pass first time. As much as I want to sit here and tell you all that I passed on my first go, that's just not the case. I done well and passed my theory first time but I didn't pass my practical until my 3rd try. 

The first time I took the test, I was really upset. The anniversary of my mum's passing was on my mind, I couldn't think straight and everything was going wrong in my personal life, we were having the biggest streak of bad luck ever and I happened to let all of that plus my anxiety weigh on my mind. I took the test and failed, I was a bag of nerves if truth be told and I was shaking the whole time, the only good thing was that I didn't fail on much, just being too close to parked cars a few times and I mucked up my manoeuvre and it was an easy fix. I was glad I have it a go though, I was so proud that I managed to drive and not just pull over and cry so I booked my test for 2 weeks later. 

My second test was fast approaching then I got in a car accident breaking my ribs. This shot my anxiety through the roof and I was scared to even step foot in a car after that. I tried so hard to stay out of my head with it all and still give my test a go, I did and failed again. I was super cautious about going near roundabouts and I was shaking so bad during the whole thing out of fear of crashing. Again, I failed but this time the woman who told me I failed said I wasn't observing my right blind the whole time but I know I was.... you can't argue with these people though and the way she was speaking to me was horrible so I just held in my tears, nodded and waited till I got home to let loose. I'm so angry that I didn't speak up for myself because I should have, yes she was assessing me and if I hadn't been observing then I would understand the fail (not the way she talked to me, that was unnessesarry regardless) I didn't understand that one, because I done everything else right and even though my ribs were killing me, I always checked my blond spots but it is what it is. 

Then the third try came around on the 17th of September.... I was SOOOO nervous, I didn't know what to expect, I didn't want to get that woman again, I didn't want to fail just before my birthday. I made sure to take my anxiety medication and I tried to calm myself as much as possible. When I sat in the car and done my 1 hour drive before hand, I had a terrible drive, I know myself if I drove like I did in the first hour, in the test, then I would have failed. Going into my test I admired defeat to myself and thought inwpuld fail. I done my test for around 30 minutes and at the end the man who assessed me said to me "I'm sorry to have to tell you" and then paused, my heart was in my throat, I knew he was going to say fail to me and I could feel the tears coming and then he surprised me with "you've passed, congratulations" I couldn't help but cry, I sat and cried happy tears because I knew I wouldn't have to go through any of that again. 

Passing my driving test was such a euphoric feeling, I can't describe just how I felt but I was over the moon. I came home and couldn't contain my excitement, I had finally passed! It was a feeling of relief if I'm honest, it was amazing. 

So my tips for anyone with anxiety that's going for their driving test are; 

  • Believe in yourself, it doesn't matter how many tries it takes, all that matters is that you don't get down on yourself about it, don't give up! Keep going and keep pushing yourself because you will do it. 
  • Talk through your fears with your driving instructor, they will be able to talk you through what to expect, what the examiners are like and how to approach your hurdles. 
  • Only go for your test when YOU feel ready, don't let anyone pressure you or rush you into taking your test you know you best and you know when you feel comfortable.
  • Go to the Dr if you need to. The Dr can help out with short time medication to help anxiety or look into herbal remedies as I've heard from a fried that they really helped her as she didn't want to take any pills. 
  • Cry if you need to. It may sound strange, but if you need to cry to release all the anxiety, then do so. When I bottled it all up I drove worse, but when I cried it out and got it out of my system, I was more focused on the task at hand. 
  • Choose an instructor that's right for you. Getting the wrong instructor can make the whole experience 10x worse, there's nothing like sitting in a car, learning to drive, when you don't feel comfortable with the person who is teaching you or they just don't click with you. Let's face it, it's a stressful situation and she you're in that type of setting, having someone you don't feel comfortable with will make everything worse. It is ok to change instructors of you want, you are under no obligation to always go with them.
  • Remember that when it's your time, it's your time. Don't rush yourself, take your time and study up on it all, try to soak up as much information as you can. 
  • Get out in a car inbetween lessons if you can. I know that's not easy for everyone, I know I couldn't do it all the time and only got out every few weeks, if that, but if you have that option, take it! Practice makes perfect and it means you are getting a feel for the road more. 
  • Have fun. I know it's not a situation to have fun in, but just breath, don't let it make you ill like I did on my first go, you can always resit.

And that's my driving test story. I'm so proud of myself now, all in all I had about 14/15 lessons and only got out in the car a handful of times, so if I can do it, you can do it as well! It's not an easy thing to do with anxiety, I know that first hand but try, it's always good to try and if it's not for you, it's not for you, but at least you'll know you have it a go. My tips won't work for everyone and there will be people out there who have more tips than this, I'm just sharing what I've learned during lessons and taking the test myself. It's all stuff I wish I knew the first time round so I didn't get myself as worked up as I did. 

Ps. The print in this photo is from Dorkface - Go check her shop out, it's not long until she is on maternity leave so get your orders in fast! 

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  1. I’m so, so pleased for you! Passing your driving test is a huge thing for anyone, but with anxiety, and nerves following your crash stacked on top as well, it’s nothing short of amazing that you kept going! You should be so proud of yourself (as I’m sure you are!) and I hope you love all the freedom that comes with a driving license.

    Well done!

    Em x

    1. Thank you so much hun! I really am proud of myself for accomplishing it x

  2. Huge congratulations on passing your driving test! I know first hand how difficult it can be to pass any exam or test with anxiety.
    It took me 5 attempts to pass my driving test 10 years ago. Which was largely due to anxiety and social phobia - I am no good and very uncomfortable around strangers, especially women for some reason. I cried after a few failed tests and got panicked easily. My driving instructor was very understanding and I'm very happy I chose him.

    1. Thank you lovely! I'm so glad I done it but really glad I got the right instructor, they make all the difference! X

  3. Those tips at the end will actually be so helpful for people learning with anxiety, I'm sure your story will inspire people too! Bizarrely I find driving strangely cathartic for my anxiety now, but when learning things were definitely different.

    Megan |

    1. Awww thank you for your comment! This is so sweet x

  4. I think it's so admirable that you pushed through regardless of your anxiety! It reminds me that I am blessed to live without anxiety & that I can persevere myself; you're such an inspiration Jordanne xx

  5. Congratulations, I struggled with anxiety after failing my first text due to no fault of my own. I didn't test again for five years. Your advice is great and I would add that if you face a setback don't dwell on it and get back to it as soon as possible.

  6. Congratulations! I'm so pleased for you! I also have anxiety while driving and I'm just waiting for an available date to book my test - but I am SO nervous. This post really helped and was super inspirational - thanks for sharing!

    Sophie x |

  7. I'm so proud of you for pulling through! I have anxiety with driving, but I did pretty decent when taking driving lessons and even passed the first time with a 100. I think it's because I'm so nervous with someone else in the car, especially a stranger who's testing me and I don't want to be seen as a failure. Fast forward, My anxiety with driving is the worst in some situations. I don't drive on the highway, get anxious about driving in areas I'm not familiar with, and hate having people I know see me drive. It really holds me back a lot so I hope to figure out a solution. Thanks for sharing your story!