E, Female, East Cambridgeshire– 25 – Anxiety and Depression
Passed in a manual car, 2018 (3rd Time pass, 1st Time with Keiran – 5 Faults)
This pupil has asked to remain anonymous, but is otherwise happy to share her story to help others.
I have anxiety and depression as a result of trauma, I struggle meeting new people, trusting others and sitting tests among other things.
I started learning to drive and had two tests several years ago before going to university, I failed both of those, and was unable to continue with lessons for financial reasons. After graduating I moved to Cambridgeshire for work. I decided to restart lessons to give me more independence, and freedom in an isolated area with limited public transport.
My previous instructor did things very by the book, I felt he taught me well but he did not provide any additional support to deal with my test anxiety, making me feel like it was my problem to deal with on my own.
A friend recommended Keiran to me. Lessons with Keiran felt a lot more personal. He put a lot of extra effort into what I needed to get out of the lessons and into areas where I struggled due to anxiety, more than an average driving instructor would. It really felt like he cared a lot more than my previous instructor.
When I first started lessons, the thought of getting through the practical test felt overwhelming, I couldn’t see how I was going to manage it. Keiran put the extra time and effort into helping me get through it. He talked through all of my anxieties surrounding the test with me, without judgement, and was completely understanding. We came up with solutions that worked for me and he never pushed or got frustrated if I couldn’t manage something. Although I was still very nervous on the day, the extra support (and cat videos) helped me get to a place mentally where I felt able to take the test. I’m so grateful for that!
After my test, I started to struggle with driving on my own without the support of Keiran, this was also due to my anxiety. Keiran then worked with me to come up with a step by step plan to get me driving in my own car and it’s working! It’s really given me the confidence that I can actually do this.
E came to me as a good but clearly nervous driver. We reviewed E’s previous driving experience and why she had failed her previous tests. E had driven to test standard before and after some remedial work and familiarisation with a new car we quickly got her back to test standard. E hid her fear and anxiety well, as she grew to trust me further I understood how deep her anxiety ran. We talked about the root causes of her anxiety, and how this might affect E during a driving test.
I used various techniques to expose E to test relevant stresses while driving and working to keep her driving safely. E understandably found this process emotionally challenging and stressful, but the more we worked the better E coped with the stress and was able to keep up a high standard of driving.
Each fear E had was a legitimate fear or reaction to a previous negative experience that she had over thought and turned into an unsurmountable barrier for her to deal with on her own. We identified each fear, worked on rationalising the fear and worked up a strategy to deal with it.
One of the areas that E really struggled with was independent driving, where she had to drive following either road signs or a SatNav. We identified and worked through the reasons E found driving without instruction difficult. As we put coping strategies in place E was able to drive longer, to a higher standard, under less outwardly visible stress.
On the day of test, we used each strategy as planned to keep E calm, once the examiner met E she focused and managed to deal with her anxiety passing her test with 5 faults. Any pass would have been impressive for someone going through the level of stress E was going through. A pass with only 5 faults shows the standard of driving E achieved.
After E passed her test she struggled driving alone finding the experience extremely stressful. Again, we worked through the reasons E was finding driving alone difficult, again all of E’s reasons were legitimate fears, we worked through the same process as in the run up to E’s test.
E took the opportunity to do the Pass Plus scheme. Pass Plus is a practical training course that takes at least 6 hours and is for drivers to improve their skills and drive more safely. The course takes the pupil over a range of different driving conditions including, town, country and motorway driving. E found this course challenging but it gave her a big boost in confidence as the roads I took her on she didn’t know, were much more complicated than her local roads and she was able to drive in a safe manner, without intervention and mostly while driving independently without directional instruction.