A chink in one’s armour …..

The definition of the above phrase is “a weak point in someone’s character or arguments which makes them vulnerable to attack”. I don’t necessarily think my chink makes me vulnerable but it is definitely something worth talking about.

So, as we get to know each other, you will know I work as a locksmith, I love my animals and my other half (Davey) and that generally I am a normal, confident, outgoing woman. I go about my day to day business as if nothing is wrong, but, there is definitely something wrong.

Right, this might sound bizarre. I passed my driving test at 17, first time, no bother at all. Started driving straight away, never looked back, loved it. I have worked in jobs where I have been sent down south to do a days work and driven back, sometimes doing ridiculous miles in one day. I have driven to France and the only time I got confused was when I got back to the UK! My “issues” started with the A69. God I hate that fucking road. As you are all aware I cared for my Grandma for a lot of years whilst she lived at home. Grandma’s home being Raiselands Road, Carlisle – approximately 66 miles from my front door. I do truly think that she is the reason I now have these “episodes” , I don’t blame her for them but I know that she is the cause of them. Now, for those that don’t know the easiest and quickest way to Carlisle from the North East is across the A69.

Here is a picture to demonstrate the journey I would take 2,3 sometimes 4 times a week.



It is a route I have literally driven hundreds of times, I have been going backwards and forwards since I passed my test when I was 17 – that’s over 20 years. It was never an issue. Parts of it are beautiful and a lot of the small towns now have by bypasses which makes the journey quicker and easier. The problems started towards the end of my time caring for Grandma, it was getting a bit ridiculous. I had compressed my hours at work so that I could travel over to Carlisle every Friday morning. I would do Grandma’s shopping, clean the house, do the garden, generally tidy up. She had carers going in to her house 3 times a day to administer her medication and deal with emergencies so you would think there would be no reason for me to be going over there any other time than a Friday …….. you could NOT be more wrong!

Here is a few examples of what I have been be called over to Carlisle for:

  • To replace batteries in remote control
  • To open a jar of jam
  • Turn the gas fire on
  • To unlock the shed ( when she was still mobile and urgently needed something from the shed)

These are calls I have received from Grandma who could not have cared less that I was at work or just enjoying a day off. Never mind the fact that she was 66 bastard miles away. When I asked her why her carers couldn’t have done any of the above tasks her reply would always be – “I didn’t want to bother them”.  I also received other calls summoning me to Carlisle from various professionals such as doctors, district nurses, the hospital and social services, this lot didn’t care when or what time they called me either. Some times it would be during the day but mostly it would be at some ungodly hour during the night. I was expected to jump in my car and go over to Carlisle to sort out what ever situation Grandma was in.

I can’t remember exactly when the “episodes” started but I can remember at times becoming really nervous whilst driving, especially when it was busy or during the night. I started to slow my driving down and found that rather than overtaking large wagons I would sit behind them, plodding on. I began to dread large wagons coming towards me and would pull right over on the verge. Now the sensible part of my brain would always tell me that they had plenty of room on their side of the road and there was no reason for me to move over, but the irrational side of my brain always won. I became very aware of accidents on the road, a lot of them were fatalities and some times I was diverted off the A69 to follow the military road or other diversions.

This is truly what I thought was going to happen!! (guess who has discovered the Fresh paint app on my computer)



I continued like this for quite  while, unfortunately I didn’t realise at the time that my mental health was slowly deteriorating and that Grandma was slowly pushing me to a nervous breakdown. Luckily it never actually got as far as that but it was scarily close.

As the “episodes” got worse I noticed that when driving I would start to get a cold feeling in my legs, I could be half way across the A69 and everything could be fine then all of a sudden my legs would go cold, my heart beat would speed up, I would get an over whelming sense that I was going to lose control of my car and ultimately die. I would automatically be slowing down – which is not ideal on a busy road and I would end up with vehicles speeding up behind me, over taking me or just sitting right behind me until I pulled over. I can honestly say that I have spent time in every parking layby on the A69. Sometimes berating myself other times just sobbing! It was getting ridiculous. Even the thought of driving to Carlisle started to make me feel ill. I couldn’t get it out of my head that I was going to lose control of my car so I started using different routes to get there. I know every back road to get me to Carlisle – it takes me fucking ages.

It all came to a head when my “episodes” started to happen on other roads. I can remember being on the A1 and having an “episode”, I literally drove myself to the doctors and refused to leave until I was seen. I spilled my guts to the doctor and was prescribed Sertraline. This was to take the edge of my anxiety and help me get on with my life, he also advised some CBT but I haven’t got round to it yet. Grandma is now in a nursing home in the North East and she is literally 20 minutes away, so no more A69 for me – yey! I still have the odd “episode” but it tends to be when I have a lot on my mind, I am tired or Grandma has been unwell and I have been called to the home. I remain on the tablets, whether they are now just a placebo effect or are actually doing something for me remains to be seen.

Suffering from anxiety has not stopped me from achieving anything! Since these “episodes” started I have I retrained as a Locksmith, left a job, set up my own business and I am loving life. It does not effect me day to day at all – until I feel my legs go cold!

Well I bet that little story has depressed the life out you!

I promise something more cheerful the next time.

Alex xx


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