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I have no advice to deal with or overcome the fear of flying, but I can say that I was afraid of flying for probably 30 years. I don’t know exactly when or why it became a problem. For my first several years of flying I wasn’t afraid. Then suddenly I was. But happily, just as suddenly one day I wasn’t afraid again. So don’t assume your fear is there forever. Mine dissolved and maybe yours will too.
Ironically, what helped me out, was my little brother taking me up in a small propeller plane. He explained every check that he did, I got to listen to him talk to the tower, he explained what things meant in the air. … I was much calmer on my next flight just knowing about all that stuff. (And I would get full on panic attacks the night before long flights. We will see what happens for my next long flight….)
I may be a nervous flyer at the best of times, but this incident was extreme, even for me. And usually my fears don’t kick in until the plane actually leaves the ground. It was only after relating the story to my husband once I was safely home that I thought to check out the side effects of famotidine, a medication that I had never taken before that day. Some of the rarer side effects are anxiety, nervousness, racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, vision changes etc. Moral of the story: NEVER, EVER try a new medication before a flight.
The gap between what people fear (abduction by a stranger) and what’s actually happening (family turmoil and custody battles) is revealing. What has changed since the 1970s is the nature of the American family, and the broader sense of community. For a variety of reasons—divorce, more single-parent families, more mothers working—both families and neighborhoods have lost some of their cohesion. It is perhaps natural that trust in general has eroded, and that parents have sought to control more closely what they can—most of all, their children.
Drinking is also a good option, I agree. It also works when the earphones won’t cancel out the screaming babies that sometimes like to put on surround sound shows. Thanks for sharing this, Matt. It helped me look at my own fears while living through yours. Great post!
One of the best aids to dispensing with the fear of flying is to get yourself off to the health food shop or a pharmacy that deals in complementary therapies. There, find the Bach Flower Remedy shelf and buy one each of Mimulus and Rescue Remedy. If you can get the Rescue Remedy in spray form, even better.
Up to a month before your planned flight, start to take the Mimulus. If you’re flying on short-notice, start straight away. Pop three drops straight onto your tongue or into a glass/bottle of water and sip – three times a day.
During this period, whenever you feel anxious about the idea of the flight, three drops or a spray or two of Rescue Remedy as soon as you feel it. It doesn’t matter how many times a day this happens.
About three days before the flight, take the Rescue Remedy just as you are doing the Mimulus. On the day of the flight, use the Rescue Remedy any time you feel anxious or nervous. Hopefully by this time it won’t be much!
The brain gets very confused. And that leads to problems with excessive anger, excessive shutting down, and doing things like taking drugs to make yourself feel better. These things are almost always the result of having a brain that is set to feel in danger and fear. Love to travel but claustrophobia panic attack strikes when that plane door shuts before takeoff, as well as waiting for the door to open when we land. Heights not a problem, actually love the feeling; landing I think is more dangerous. The idea of being trapped inside a plane for hours’ drive me crazy; and the idea of being trapped inside a non-moving plane on the tarmac for more than 15-20 minutes equally as bad. Think about the incidents in which Jetblue had passengers trapped for hours in the aircraft without taking off. Now there is legislation for the aircraft to return to the dock if cannot leave within 2 hours. But 30 minutes or so will do it for me! I think I’ll flip in 2 hours. I take my Xanax whenever I fly, and my wife tries to engage me in conversation to keep my mind off it. She knows the signs when I am getting into trouble. Longing to visit China, Japan, Australia, Middle East but don’t think I will fare well with flights longer than 5-6 hours. My electronics help to some extent. Thanks for sharing.
When you’re traumatized you’re afraid of what you’re feeling, because your feeling is always terror, or fear or helplessness. I think these body-based techniques help you to feel what’s happening in your body, and to breathe into it and not run away from it. So you learn to befriend your experience.
When up high and enclosed, falling from the high place is impossible. Even so, fear of being up high can develop. In an airliner, we may fear that the plane will fall. Or we may feel too disconnected from the earth. We feel fear when our most basic means of controlling feelings—using our own two feet to approach what interests us and to back away from what frightens us—is lost.
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