How cars saved me: Mental health and motoring

Cars are a way of getting from A to B for some people. For others, they're a bit more than that.

Comments
Zak Adkins
Zak Adkins
Contributor

Deep down, I think everyone has passion. It’s what makes us driven and determined in this world. 

My passion lies in the automotive industry. I’ve been a car addict since the age of five, maybe even younger. I remember feeling so happy watching Top Gear, hearing the sounds of supercars flying down the test track and seeing Jeremy Clarkson with the wind in his hair.

“I want that job,” I remember saying at the time.

“That looks like the best job in the world”. 

As I grew into a young adult, my interests didn’t change one bit. I was obsessed with cars.

Some people thought I was a bit crazy, others supported me from day one. All I knew was that when I finished school, I wanted to become a motoring writer.

Then life got in the way… 

I was hospitalised twice within two years due to mental health concerns. I got so stressed I couldn’t function properly anymore. I’d always been an anxious kid, but I never knew that it could lead to something as serious as this. 

When I came out of hospital in December 2020, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Even three months later, I’m still coming to grips with the reality of this.

How will it affect my life, my job, my relationships? These are all questions I ask myself over and over again. 

But it won’t stop me, and it won’t define me. 

I pledged to myself that I would continue on my path towards my dream and make it a reality. 

After both times in hospital, one of the first things I did was get in my car and go for a drive.

No friends, no music, nothing. Just me and the road. Like many others out there who struggle, I found peace with driving. It made me feel so bloody happy.

It helped me focus my brain on the task at hand – to keep it from spiralling. 

For the first couple of weeks I spent out of hospital, nearly every day I drove somewhere. Like before, I was hooked.

I loved being in control, hearing the glorious noises out of the twin exhaust outlets as I punched up a mountain pass. I loved the serenity. I loved everything about it. 

It is in these moments, on quiet mountain roads, I feel truly happy. People ask me why I do it and the truth is I don’t really know. It just makes me feel good. 

I get the same feeling from watching great YouTube clips or going to a car event, or reminiscing with high school friends about the drives we did together. It ties in to a love of the automotive world.

They say good company is important. But when everyone is at work and I have a day free, my car is my company. It has pulled me out of some of the worst moments of my life.

Like any friendship, we’ve gone through our ups and downs (that one $3000 service, ouch), but at the end of the day it’s been a brilliant companion. 

Can cars cure mental health? Who knows, but they’ve helped me immensely.

On those dark days where it felt like the world was crashing down, I put on a Top Gear special to get me through. When I felt bottled up at home, a quick drive soothed my head and my soul. 

I often come home from a drive and find myself standing there admiring my car. I give it time for my journey to just sink in.

I turn off the light and walk up upstairs with a huge grin on my face.

All I’m thinking is, where to next? 

Share
Link copied!