This may come as a surprise considering I do fly. A lot. But the fact of the matter is that since I’ve had kids, I’ve developed a chronic case of aerophobia. I deal with it because I wouldn’t ever want to live a life without travel, one of my true passions. But I’ll always wish that I could just blink my eyes and be wherever I want to be.
I used to love to fly. I actually used to get dressed up for flights. On my first transatlantic flight alone, I wore a dress. I delighted in chatting with my fellow passengers, gazing out the window, take-off and landings positively thrilled me. I must have been a charming and rare sight even then – a happy flyer!
The seed was planted about twelve years ago, when I was on a flight with my entire family – Mom, Dad, (pregnant) Sister and Brother-in-Law, from Miami to Chicago. Upon take off, the plane’s engine caught fire. It was (loudly) released into the ocean. Thankfully, planes have two engines. The captain casually announced this on the loudspeaker, noting that we’d be flying low over the ocean to dump out fuel and then return to Miami.
My Mom smiled and sighed, “Well, we’ve had a great life. And that was a wonderful vacation” (Key West). My Dad grimaced, focused irrationally on the fact that our entire family fortune would go to my Aunt, my mom’s younger sister. My sister, awash in pregnancy hormones, was unusually unphased. But me – “I’ve still got things in life to do!” I panicked.
By the grace of God, we landed safely in Miami. Emergency vehicles were parked in a star like formation around our landing path. We even made it on the evening news!
Soon after I had my son, my fear of flying blossomed. No longer do I simply have “things” to do in life – I have two beautiful little kids to be a Mommy to.
And then, since I’m usually flying with said kids, I can’t even distract myself with Star or US Weekly.
There were also the terrorist attacks of September 11th. There was a terribly turbulent flight that I took with my son from Rome to Warsaw during which he excitedly exclaimed, “Mom, if we crash into the river we can blow up and go for a float in the big yellow raft!” And every other day, I’m hearing about air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job or pilots flying drunk. No, these are just not good times for flight passengers.
I never have had an outright panic attack – usually I just spend flight time running irrational, imaginary scenarios through my mind. It’s gotten so bad, though, that this past vacation, last weekend (we visited the Crystal Coast!), I finally did something about it. My doctor gave me a prescription for Xanax – one for each flight. I had never taken it before (I don’t suffer from anxiety in real life whatsoever). I did feel a bit relieved, but when we hit a bumpy route and a thunderstorm on our return flight, I was back to running panicked scenarios through my mind.
I love travel too much to ever let a little flight phobia interfere with my life, but am I the only one who has slowly developed a fear of flying???? What have you done to confront your aerophobia head on? Any advice/suggestions?