HAPPY MONDAY: WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
Most people don’t know this about me, especially when they see my pics on Instagram traveling and looking all brave and stuff. Truth is I am deadly scared of most everything- bugs, heights, fast cars, failure. Surprisingly, of all the things I’m scared of and that bring me uncontrollable anxiety, there’s none bigger and that has been more paralyzingly to me than my fear of flying.
Yep. Every time I think of flying, see a plane and even days before I have to go on a trip, I walk around with a horrible, sick to my stomach feeling. On the cup half full side, sometimes I lose a little weight before a trip cos my stomach is in such knots, I’m not really eating much.
All kidding aside, it’s no fun. I’ve tried it all, being sensible, reading stats, even prayer which has kept me strong in all aspects of my life somehow can’t stem the irrational feelings I have before and during a flight. My mum so upset with my flying paranoia, asked me to just embrace the fact that the absolute worst thing that could happen was that I died, and so what, we’re all gonna go someday- let that fear not ruin the living of life. That helped for a second and then it didn’t.
My absolute worst anxiety attack was one that prevented me from getting on what would have been a 90min flight. My legs just refused to walk to the terminal, so a car rental, bus, train ride and a day and a half later, I finally made it home. So u must be wondering, but Cynthia, how have you been managing these trips then. First. I would say, this is not a recommendation, just what I have had to do. Fed up with the anxiety and having this deep seated need to travel I went to my doctor and discussed my troubles. I know many people are scared of flying hence all the people drinking before and during their flights, but I knew my anxiety was significantly more than any healthy dose of flight apprehension. Thankfully, my doctor is a funny, gentle man and he didn’t laugh at me or shake his head at my nonsense. He told me about one of his patients, who had a fear of buildings, even though she was a professional architect. She developed her fear out of thin air, and all of a sudden couldn’t go on site visits. Crazy enough mine came about just like that too. In my teens, I traveled all over by myself, only ever having minor nerves when there was too much turbulence- but the full blown out fear didn’t happen until my late 20’s.
My doctor told me I had 3 options: first was remember the stats, be bold and distract myself during flight with movies/mags. The 2nd option was drugs in the Xanax family for the anxiety. 3rd was something to put me to sleep. The fourth option was a little bit of wine, but since I don’t drink alcohol that wasn’t really an option.
I tried the 2nd option- and either my doctor gave me a placebo (I know he didn’t) or I was wound up just that tight, but it had Zero effect on me. In fact, I think I got even more paranoid, waiting for the pills to kick in, getting even more frustrated when I realized nothing was happening.
On the flight back- I decided on the 3rd option – I would sleep. And this guys is where I have landed.
I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to rely on a little sleeping pill, when I can say my prayer and steady my little heart. I used to be so ashamed of this little factoid, made me seem less of a cool jetsetter when I’m actually cowering on the inside. My husband has been most supportive and had to deal with crushed fingers during takeoff and an unresponsive sleeping wife for duration of flight. Bless his heart. It’s weird but I do feel the more I embrace my weakness, I have become stronger and I do feel the fear subsiding or is that just me being hopeful.
So what’s the point here, I guess it’s that we are all much more complicated than we seem, that a blog or social media only ever tell half the story (if even that much). And this is for all those scaredy cats out there, embrace your fear but keep going, get on the plane, ask about the job, speak to that girl or guy. Fear is a horrible thing and if I had let it win, if I had decided to never get on a plane again (which is honestly how I feel when I get on one), then all these amazing travel stories and journeys would never have happened.
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