I can honestly say this has NEVER happened to me in my entire driving career which has spanned . . . .achhum, a few decades. I was always taught to fill the tank when it gets to half a tank (thanks dad). But yesterday as I was tooling around town – I looked down and there it was. The dreaded Gas light only it wasn’t just giving me a hint that it was empty- it was ON EMPTY! How can that happen when i barely go anywhere right? If you look closely to the left of the gas light you can see that the car only has 1720 miles- and i got it in October of 2012-which actually for me is a lot of miles.
In years past (12 years about) had i seen this gas light come on- while it wouldn’t have caused a panic attack, it would have sent off the same chemical anxiety inside me and then I would have been fighting to keep a panic attack at bay. I would have been hearing in noise in my head yelling things like holy crap i can’t get to the gas station, i am going to be all alone stranded, who’s going to help me, i can’t do this, but not this time- this place. This time I looked at the empty light, and in my head i heard- oh shoot how did this happen, turn around and go get gas- just like a (dare i say) normal reaction. No chemical anxiety involved, just a normal response. And i have been seeing that happen more and more with normal glitches that we all face. For me, in the past 12 years of being wrapped in panic, normal blips in the road would cause severe anxiety and a heightened over-response. But I am slowly seeing that I am handling these issues with a more normal response and ability to cope.
It is clear that Milo the Service Dog is helping me. Where drugs and exposure therapy got me to a limited point. With the presence of Milo, I am getting calmer- cortisol is not raging thru my body 24|7 and living is getting to be a little more normal. I still fight the panic hard- but it seems to be stretching out in time and easing off a bit. I have another dog that has been with me since the panic started, so it’s not just about “having a dog”. This dog is trained to work with me and help me with little tasks and simple motions that help change my thought process. So now, running on empty may occur more and more as i venture out into the world again- and for me if i can respond in a more normal way- then running on empty might be a good thing after all!