Dear Jody: Terrified of trucks!

Q: I'm a 62-year-old woman and live in a small town in eastern Michigan. I have recently been having panic attacks while driving on the highway. I am OK when I drive around town where the speed is slow, but when I get on the highway and see big trucks coming toward me or have to pass a truck, I'm likely to have a panic attack. So far when it happens I have been able to pull over, calm down and make it back home. I even have these when I am riding with someone else, but at least I don't fear putting my life or someone else's life in danger.

The other day my daughter called wanting to meet me halfway between our houses so we could have lunch together. She had some things she wanted me to bring that she left at our house last time we were together. I told her I couldn't drive on the highway and why. I suggested she wait until the weekend so my partner, Pam, could drive me. The other alternative I suggested to my daughter was that she just comes to my house. (The drive is about two and a half hours, which isn't too bad, but it is all on the highway.) My daughter got very upset with me, saying she thought I could drive if I wanted to; she believed that I just didn't want to "make the effort." She also said it wasn't fair for her to have to drive the whole way. She felt I was being selfish because her time is precious, and I am retired.

I ended up saying that I would drive because I know I need to get over my panic attacks. But I keep wondering if I am being just a chicken for not driving on the highway, or am just being selfish by not doing my part of the driving. (Pam is upset that I am giving in and driving.)

Selfish or A Chicken?

A: You didn't ask a direct question, but I do have some thoughts for you: I don't think you are being "selfish or a chicken" by not driving when you are having panic attacks. To take the wheel on the highway could endanger your life and the lives of others. In fact, It would be irresponsible for you to drive given what you are telling me. You did offer your daughter another time to meet so she wouldn't have to drive the whole way.

You didn't mention getting help with your panic attacks. I suggest you start by making an appointment with your physician to rule out any physical problems. The doctor might be able to prescribe some medication that would help with the panic attacks. If I were you, I would also seek the help of a therapist to see if you can figure out if there are any issues in your life that is now causing this to happen. There are strategies you can use to help you deal with the attacks. Good luck.

Not hot enough for him?

Q: I am interested in a guy (I'll call him Gary) that I met the other night at a party. I want to ask him out, but I am afraid he won't remember who I am and turn me down. Or maybe I might not be good looking enough for him as he is really good looking. I am not a dog, but I am not in his league when it comes to looks.

My friend, Kevin, knows Gary pretty well and has his phone number, so I know how to get a hold of him. Do you think I should call and see if he will go out with me, or wait till I meet him again at a party or see him somewhere else? He is so hot I just don't want to do something wrong and scare him away.

To Call or Not To Call

A: I see no problem with calling him and asking him out. If that isn't comfortable, talk with Kevin and see if he would arrange a get-together of some type - just a friends meeting, not a date - so you could spend more time with Gary and see if there is a mutual attraction. Then, go from there.

Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. Reach Jody at The "Dear Jody" column appears weekly.
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