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  1. #1
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Default :( flying on Friday, anyone want to reassure me?

    I've been flying since before I can remember and was always slightly on the nervous side, but basically ok. A few years ago I developed a full-blown phobia or close. Partly due to the fact that I had a lot of stress in my life and a couple of bad flights, and apparently it often happens in late twenties/early thirties.

    I'm flying from the UK to Spain on Friday with a friend. We're connecting through Madrid, so it's only a couple of hours to Madrid and then another hour to our final destination. So, pretty short flights. And even in the worst throes of phobia (I'm doing a bit better now than I was a couple of years ago) I took a couple of ten hour flights to Canada, and last year I flew to Japan over the holidays - two hours to Rome and then 12 hours to Japan!

    So this shouldn't be a big deal, and they are day flights which I prefer. But the weather is stormy in the UK this week. And it may be very stormy on Friday. The flight could get cancelled or delayed, which is a stressful thought. Equally or more stressful is the thought of flying through a lot of turbulence. I know the flights aren't long but if it is a bumpy or even scary flight it can be an eternity. The feeling of dread, fear and nausea which comes over me can be terrible. It's not so much the thought of the plane crashing - extremely unlikely I know. I saw a therapist for a little while about the phobia and the conclusion was more or less that I'm most afraid of my own reactions (ie. that the dread might be overwhelming, I might have a panic attack etc.)

    I just wish there wasn't always a weather drama or something when I fly. And I wish I wasn't already stressed 2-3 days before. It doesn't bode that well for how I'll feel on the day. And even though the flights are short time can pass very slowly if you feel nervous and fearful.

    Any thoughts or sympathy would be appreciated, but don't tell me to snap out of it or "it's perfectly safe"
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  2. #2
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    *socially-appropriate grunt of NT sympathy*

  3. #3
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Damn. What about pills? What about thinking that even if the weather is stormy in the UK, it will quickly get better when you pass over the 45°th parallel (which in Europe marks two rather different weather regimes)? Thinking that the pilot doesn't want to die either?
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    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    Damn. What about pills? What about thinking that even if the weather is stormy in the UK, it will quickly get better when you pass over the 45°th parallel (which in Europe marks two rather different weather regimes)? Thinking that the pilot doesn't want to die either?
    Pills, well, don't really want to go that road unless it becomes absolutely necessary. Though a lot of people do. I have taken herbal nerve-calming things a couple of times but it doesn't seem to do much. I should maybe pick up something like that though. I might also have a drink or two. Not to get hammered, but it would relax me a bit.

    The points about the weather, and the pilot are good. I know that flying is super super safe. It really honestly is more a fear of my own reactions.

    I learned some good techniques when I had therapy for it. I have some deep breathing exercises I can do, etc.

    And you know what's so weird? Some people are really really afraid of takeoff and landing. They don't mind cruising altitude even if there is turbulence. And I know that cruising is the safest part. But that's the part that scares me more. I sort of "expect" turbulence in takeoff and landing. I've had some seriously rough landings and all I do is wince a bit. Whereas if the plane bounced like that at cruising altitude I'd freak right out. Honestly, the moment the pilot says "we are about to start our descent" I feel SO much more relaxed. If there's some bouncing then I hardly care because I expect it.

    Just goes to show that it's a psychological weirdness, and that annoys me about myself. It's like my own nerves letting me down.

    Mainly I'm telling myself that I'm going to have an awesome two week holiday with a good friend and at least the flights are short. But two hours can be long if it turns out rough.
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  5. #5
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    I kinda relate. We can't deny the fact that there are chances that an accident could happen, but the chances are like 1 in 3-10 million....this statistics usually help me dealing with turbulences periods.
    ''omg you can't mention the word accident to a person with flying phobia'' --> Grow balls and face the truth!
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  6. #6
    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    Flying I use to be scared of flying till i started drinking at the airport bars, I don't get drunk I have 1-2 drinks and it relaxes me enough to not be scared shitless taking off and landing.
    In no likes experiment.

    that is all

    i dunno what else to say so

  7. #7
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    It definitely can be scary.

    I mean, what works for me is reminding myself that statistically it IS safer than driving a car (for some reason, that is an anchor point for me)... it's just that I'm not in control of the plane, and one bad mistake can impact the lives of everyone on the plane. You just never know.

    Also, statistically, takeoffs and landings are the worst, so aside from those few minutes of the flight, typically everything is fine even if turbulence occurs. Again, that helps me; I don't know if it helps reassure you at all. But if you need to feel scared/panicked, maybe it can be saved for that small percentage of the flight? I always get tense during the takeoff and somewhat during the landing, but then force myself to relax.

    In the last 5-6 weeks, I pulled a 17+ hour flight and a 13+ hour flight, plus some mini-flights of 4-5 hours each. I've also done a flight to China (which was in the 12-14 hour range) and some cross-continentals plus one to Mexico (4 hours) long ago. That landing was probably the worst landing I've ever experienced, but it was a short runway. Despite any weirdness occuring on the flights, everything still went okay.

    The Thai flight was actually, despite its length, pretty decent. I had movies to occupy my attention. I also found that on my last 4.5 hour flight cross-country, getting out my laptop and watching movies made the last 2-3 hours of the flight go REALLY fast despite being shoved between two other passengers and feeling very cranky and cramped. Any way that you can distact yourself (which I find movies to be better for, not books) is helpful to make the time pass more quickly. I also try to drink enough to remain hydrated but not so much I need to pee, so that I don't have to keep squeezing by people to use the bathroom.

    And you know what's so weird? Some people are really really afraid of takeoff and landing. They don't mind cruising altitude even if there is turbulence. And I know that cruising is the safest part. But that's the part that scares me more. I sort of "expect" turbulence in takeoff and landing. I've had some seriously rough landings and all I do is wince a bit. Whereas if the plane bounced like that at cruising altitude I'd freak right out. Honestly, the moment the pilot says "we are about to start our descent" I feel SO much more relaxed. If there's some bouncing then I hardly care because I expect it.
    Interesting. Well, normally there isn't much turbulence at cruising altitude unless you are flying pretty low, to be honest. In the 30-40K foot range, you are well above the cloud cover and unless you're flying into a tremendous thunderstorm or mucking around with the jetstream, I can't imagine there would be a lot of turbulence. I think it's the lower flights (like the 100 mile one I took from Philly to Baltimore, where I was right under the 10K ceiling) that might have more chance of such turbulence.... and especially if you're in a puddle jumper or a smaller plane with just two seats on either side of the aisle. The larger jets with 3 seats on either side or a center section typically do not suffer from much turbulence -- that's why I like the big jets so much.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I saw a therapist for a little while about the phobia and the conclusion was more or less that I'm most afraid of my own reactions (ie. that the dread might be overwhelming, I might have a panic attack etc.)
    This is but one side point in your post, but it should pretty much be the point. Long and short, planes are pretty safe.

    There are many things you can do to assuage the fear of fear. Perhaps a line of thinking of, "What if I weren't so afraid? What would be the consequences then? What am I protecting by being so vigilant?" So long as you don't let that train of thought delve into "I shouldn't be so afraid" territory--as such fears are perfectly normal--it can be pretty powerful.

    I mean, do whatever works best, but keep what your therapist says in mind.


  9. #9
    Let me count the ways Betty Blue's Avatar
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    Oh yah, simple solution.
    Take a low dose valium when you get to the gate.
    Works wonders.
    If it's a long flight make sure you have enough to cover you.
    And what ever you do don't forget to take some for the flight back again.


    EDIT: I forgot the sympathy...


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  10. #10
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Thanks all!

    Yeah, I definitely learned some important things from the therapy. I benefited and I think I could have benefited even more if I had practiced some of the techniques more. But most useful were the thought challenging techniques and also some of the relaxation stuff.

    My last flights were to/from Basel in Switzerland, which was only about an hour. But actually on the way out it was fairly rough (also some stormy conditions around Europe and especially that area of Central Europe). Seatbelt sign the whole way, some major shaking over the Channel, and then a ROUGH landing. I was a bit tense and white knuckled but basically I was ok or not too bad. And the return flight was smooth and I was also ok. Which was a relief because when the phobia was feeling its worse, I'd be kind of white knuckled even on a smooth flight - just anticipating the worst. At least I've moved well beyond that the last couple of years.

    A lot of people say they feel better when they're not traveling alone, and this time I'm with a friend. But oddly, I think personally I feel a bit better alone. The reason is that I don't like inconveniencing other people - or, perhaps, looking stupid and losing face. She's a good friend and pretty calm so she's unlikely to be bothered even if I am a little agitated, and she already knows I have flying issues. (And for me, unless things are severe, "agitated" usually just means quiet and slightly pale.) When I'm alone and feeling afraid I just deal, basically.

    By the way, I think maybe I am scared of turbulence at cruise altitude because I have had a couple of genuinely somewhat nasty turbulence experiences at cruise. Including flying back from Mexico years ago and hitting bad enough turb that the crew had to sit down and buckle up. Also at night, and I don't like not being able to see what's going on.
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