Hello, I hope this is the right place to post this.
I have been having a major resurgence of panic attacks which strike me at the convenient hours between midnight and 5AM. I have not slept well in at least a week, and the focus of these attacks centers around flying, which is odd because up until now I have always thoroughly enjoyed flying and never thought twice about it.
I am not afraid of terrorists, bombs, or hijackings. Instead I have become obsessed with the idea that my plane is going to experience some type of mechanical failure and crash. I suspect that this may stem from my last flying experience, during which severe turbulence led to a VERY rough ride. It was the first time I had ever been on a plane where the passengers around me were in tears and/or screaming. The flight was thoroughly frightening and I am terrified of boarding my plane tomorrow and repeating the experience.
I have found myself quizzing my father (an aircraft mechanic and pilot) on the safety measures of various airlines, fail-safe systems, and maintenance requirements. I am driving the poor man batty, and I am sure that he is starting to wonder why his well-travelled daughter has suddenly turned into a basket case over a relatively short flight with a reputable airline.
Is there anyone here who has had any experience with a fear of flying? How did you cope before the flight, during, and in the event of a "rough ride"? I refuse to allow my irrational fear prevent me from travelling, but I am running on almost zero sleep and becoming more agitated by the second, knowing I have to check in at the airport by 1:30 tomorrow afternoon.
Any advice from someone who has "been there" would be greatly appreciated!
During the height of my anxiety, I actually ran off a plane right before they disconnected the jetway. Talk about incredibly embarassing, and add that to the fact that I lived in Hawaii at the time, and the only way off the island, in practical terms, is to fly. So eventually I just had to! I went to my primary care doc and my psychiatrist. They collaborated and got me on a large dose or round the clock Valium three days before my flight (the first flight since I'd run off the plane like a madwoman!). They also talked with my husband and gave him advice, and actually had a contingency plan in place so that if despite all the meds I had in me, I was still unwilling to get on the plane, I would receive a shot that would essentially knock me out, yet not enough to require me to be placed on monitors. The large doses of Valium did the trick, and since then, I haven't had to take extreme amounts of meds and I've flown all over the place, even by myself. My fears did not involve hijackings or that sort of thing, though. I just become afraid when I'm in a place where there's "no escape". If you don't have any Xanax or Valium or a similar medication, go get some now! Go to your regular doc, a walk-in clinic, anywhere, explain your horrific fear and most docs will give you enough to get through your flight and your return. My mother has feared flying for years (and she's lived in Hawaii for a long time so she has to fly) and medication always works for her. Call or go to a doc now, take a cab to the airport, and you can do this! If I, who ran off a plane, can do it, you can!
Last edited by CircusSquirrel; 08-16-2006 at 10:47 AM.
Thanks for the advice, I had never considered getting meds just for the trip. Since I'm so sensitive to everything, it probably wouldn't even take much of a dose to calm me down. I have a call in to my doc and she is supposed to get back to me within the hour. Since my husband is driving me to the airport, a ride is not a problem.
And, OMG on the running off the airplane thing. You poor thing! I am with you about the "trapped" feeling though... my husband thinks that I am upset over all this terror business, but I feel completely emotionless about that. I am more obsessed with the idea of being trapped on a plane with some extreme mechanical failure...
Best wishes, you're going to get through this. And remember, the airplane's crew all want to have a safe flight, too, so it is in everyone's interest to keep the planes in tip-top shape. It's MUCH MUCH safer to take multiple flights a day every day than it is to drive in your car twice a day.
Fear of flying is the only one true fear I have. I saw a plane crash as a child. I'm like you 10kDilsey, I'm not so much afraid of terrorists as mechanical failure. I've flown quite a few times over the past year and can never get comfortable while on the flight. I used to take meds which never really helped. It calmed my heartbeat down but the inherent fear was still there.
The last time I flew I just went without the meds and was fine. I guess it's just one of those fears you really just have to stare down and face to get rid of.
I know they say your safer in a plane than in a car but it's hard to get that in your head, especially thousands of feet in the air