In a scene from the original Fast & Furious movie the character Jesse says “there is something about engines that calms me down”. Although this was only a movie, I have heard similar statements made in real life as well.
Like one in five Australian’s, I’ve suffered from a mental illness. Anxiety was something I lived with on an almost daily basis in my 20’s. Cars are one of the things that helped me through this over the years.
For me, driving my car or even just sitting in my car has a calming effect when I’m feeling down or tense. My children know when I’m getting overwhelmed, when I say ‘Mum’s going to sit in the car’. Of course I can’t leave the house, but those five minutes or so of silence sitting in the car, smelling it, touching it, are enough to help me carry on with my day.
Of course when I go for a long drive, either with the children or by myself, I feel a release like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I know I’m not the only person who feels like this about cars.
I came across a fantastic website called Drive Against Depression, DAD for short. Through a shared interest in cars and driving DAD aims to achieve increased awareness around depression and anxiety in Australia, remove the stigma of mental health, and bring people together to have an open conversation about these issues.
DAD holds driving events where like-minded car enthusiasts go for a drive together and share a laugh over lunch at the end of the day. The next event is in Melbourne on 18th November, more details can be found here.
I’ve found that some people, including myself who have an interest in cars, can lack social skills. I think we form relationships with cars because we may find it hard to form relationships with people. Of course, we are most comfortable with other ‘car people’ who understand how we feel about our four-wheeled friends.
And cars really do become our friends. We name them, talk to them, care for them. When they are broken we feel sad, they can frustrate us when something goes wrong, and can be the source of some of our greatest joys.
Whether it’s a shared passion for cars or something else, start a conversation and see where it takes you. Having someone to talk to, whether it’s face-to-face or even online, is a great way to help stave off negative feelings.
For more information about the support available for people suffering from mental health issues speak to your GP or visit Beyond Blue.