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&%$#* – ADHD and Road Rage

August 9, 2013

ADHD and Road RageThis week, I read a blog post from Psychcentral’s  ADHD Man of Distraction Kelly Babcock about his experiences with Road Rage.  It brought back a flood of memories from right after my ADHD diagnosis and got me wondering if others with ADHD suffer from the same problem as me.

You see, despite how crazy it sounds, every time I get behind the wheel of a car I attract every bad, slow, incompetent driver within a

100 miles radius.  It may seem implausible to you but no matter where I am going, these drivers are always in front of me or beside me making it impossible for me to drive exactly the way I want to.

They drive too fast for me to pass when there is a passing lane and then slow down as soon as it becomes unsafe to blow by them.

They repeatedly tap their brakes for no comprehensible reason or neglect to use their brakes at all.

They get in front of me on the highway and then go 5 mph slower than I want to.

They never use their turn signals when they are changing lanes, don’t understand the meaning of the word “YIELD”, and always assume they have the right of way in every situation.

And I know with certainty, they are doing it on purpose just to piss me off.

At least this is how it felt for me when I started taking ADHD medication.

At first it was a REAL problem.  I went to my therapist begging for help because there were times that I felt like I was being crazy, tempted to follow some bad driver to their destination just so I could yell at them, worried that my disproportionate anger seemed to come out of nowhere, and scared because I didn’t know why I was suddenly afflicted with this intense road rage.  It wasn’t like  I was a new driver – I have been driving for more of my life than I hadn’t.  It didn’t make sense and I didn’t like feeling so out of control.

For awhile, it was the single worst side effect of taking meds.

But as I learned more about my ADHD and began to understand how it impacted me, my sudden bout with road rage began to make sense which gave me the information I needed to create compensatory strategies.  Here is what I learned:

1. I can know something intellectually (that the other drivers can’t possibly be intentionally trying to drive me crazy with their bad driving) but struggle to connect that intellectual understanding to my emotional response.

2. I have always hated having to share the road with other people because they are unpredictable and make bad decisions.

3. I am hyper-conscious about the dangers of driving because my mother was in a very bad car accident when I was a kid.  I am especially hyper-aware of how other drivers decisions can impact me and this means I hate to be surrounded by or blocked by other cars with no way “out”.

4. Once I started taking meds, I could no longer distract myself from dealing with 1,2, and 3.  Unfortunately, I also had no skills to deal with the fear, anger, and frustration that comes from sharing the road with other people.

For me, this is a perfect example of how ADHD can impact your life in ways that you never realize.  Thankfully, with a little insight, some time, and some super strategies, I can drive without arriving at my destination ready to rip someone’s head off!

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