The Psychology of Driving in a Blizzard
Here's my journal entry about having a mental breakdown driving to work this morning....
I haven't had a panic attack in years, but I came really close at around 4:30 am today.
Unfortunately, I am considered 'essential personnel' here at the radio station in Toms River, since my job is to tell you what's going on so that you can be safe on your morning commute.
I did not have the option of getting a hotel room last night closer to work, and I live 40 minutes north of the building that I had to get to.
Already upset about having to leave my boys home alone and praying the power doesn't go out and that I would make it back safely to them, I begrudgingly left an hour early (3:30 am) in my snow gear; giant, clunky snow boots, coat, hat, scarf, gloves, shovel in hand to try and dig out later, and brush/scraper to clear my car (yes, the roof, too).
I warmed up the car and had parked facing forward in my sloped driveway so that it would be downhill to the street, which wasn't yet plowed.
The first problem was that none of the back roads leading to the major roads were plowed, and I had to head downhill on curved roads with drop-offs into the woods just to get to Rt. 18.
Then Rt. 18 wasn't plowed and I found myself in a white-out with near-zero visibility. I assured myself that I have all-wheel drive and a full tank of gas, and kept my defrosters blasting in the hopes that my windshield wipers wouldn't freeze up.
I drove no more than 25 mph, and that was only when there was a car or plow/salt truck in front of me to follow. But when I got to the merge for Rt.138 in order to approach the Parkway, I was the only one on it and couldn't see a thing.
This situation started to play with my mind and now I know what it must feel like to be lost in the desert. I became so disoriented because all I could see in any direction was blowing snow. I couldn't see signs, guardrails, or traffic lights and I felt lost and wondered at times if I was still on the road.
And it was pitch black outside with no daylight in sight.
I comforted myself by praying and by taking deep breaths and thinking that surely once I got to the Parkway there would be other cars that I could follow.
Although I didn't do more than 5 mph around the ramp to get to the Parkway South, my brakes seem to have frozen up and I skidded all over the place and almost couldn't get my car back under control.
Then, just as I got onto the Parkway ramp, my windshield wipers started freezing up and I couldn't clear the windshield to see where I was going. That's when I lost it. It was too late to turn around (although I strongly considered putting my car in reverse and backing down the Parkway ramp onto Rt. 34) and now I was sweating and my heart was racing and I was starting to feel panicky.
Once I made it onto the Parkway it was just me and the snow plows. I couldn't find anyone else headed south that I could drive behind. And then the plows exited in Brick and it was just me and the Parkway. I could barely see and I was scared out of my mind.
There were times when I couldn't tell if I was still on the highway or not. It was horrifying.
I finally made it to my exit and got to work, but I had a killer headache and was sick to my stomach.
Totally not worth it to risk my life. And I spent all morning stressing out knowing that I still have to make the return trip home under just as scary conditions.
Anxiety disorder is a scary thing and nothing to mess with and if I had triggered mine I would have ended up back in the hospital, so I am grateful to have made it...but I seriously doubt I will allow myself to do that again. It's not worth the chance you take risking your life unless you absolutely have to drive in this weather.
Did you have to risk your life to get to work today? Have any advice for me for my drive back home? Send me your journal entry!