Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Aviatophobia: the fear of flying

22 days until our big vacation and I'm becoming overwhelmed by my fear of flying. It's not like I haven't flown before - we usually get on a plane at least twice a year to go out east and visit the family. But that doesn't stop me from losing sleep over my paranoia of a plane crash or a laptop explosion (have you heard about those sony batteries?) or even worse a terrorist threat. The flight from Vancouver to Heathrow is 9 hours, then we have to make a connection to Munich. Ug...my stomach is in knots already just thinking about how long I will have to endure sitting in a tin can thousands of feet above land. So, to help me prepare, I thought I would try some art therapy.
Here are my major fears: crashing into the ocean or exploding in the sky. Both are equally horrifying to me - although falling from the plane without a parachute sometimes takes the cake. I am a nervous mess when we land and I'm even worse when we take off. There is something just completely unnatural about humans wanting to fly in the air. So why do I put myself through this??

And the new restrictions do nothing but feed my anxiety. To top it off, I am clausterphobic and during our trip to the Dominican last year I had a bit of a breakdown halfway through the flight. I felt like the walls were closing in and everyone was breathing in my face. That was horrible - imagine everyone in the cabin asleep while I was locked in the teeny tiny bathroom trying to catch my breath. What a nightmare!! But now there is no extra comforts to soothe me... no water, no chapstick, no knitting?? Well, ok, the knitting has been banned for a long time - but it would do wonders for my nervous energy. The only solution here is to knock myself out completely - unconscious. Seriously. I don't know how else I'm going to last!
I wish with all my might that Europe was only a lazy afternoon river boat ride away. Please note the calm water, the blue sky, and the narrow river where green grass is just a hop and skip away from the boat. This is the proper way for humans to travel...if only travel were this easy.
Well, it would be way cool if someone would hurry up and invent the star trek transporter. That would solve all my problems with travel. Sigh...
Until then, I will just breathe and pray...breathe and pray. I can do this, people fly every day! Just breathe. Think about Oktoberfest, castles, French pastries and Van Gogh...it is so totally worth it!


cruststation said...

Oh poor you Sandra, the first picture looks seriously terrifying (that is art therapy)? I'm not sure how to help you since I don't mind flying, I guess just think about the destination and listen to soothing music while you are on the plane? I wish they invented the teleporter too, it would make travelling problems a thing of the past.

Sandra said...

Thanks for your concerned comment Babelfish! I hope I don't offend anyone with that first doodle. I just felt I should face my worst fears by putting them on paper. That way it is out of my mind, out in the open and I don't keep internalizing it. Geez...I've got to get over this. I wish I liked flying.

flossy-p said...

Sorry, I'm not much help either as I don't mind flying at all (except when you live where I do the flight is sooooo long). It is going to be difficult without anything to do. I suggest earplugs, an eye mask, music and alcohol (lots and lots of it if necessary). ;)

good luck, you know you'll be just fine!

Anonymous said...

I just happened on your blog from a link on your brother's blog.

I used to HATE to fly. It took a while and therapy and prescription meds to help, but now I really don't mind. I'd offer the following suggestions:

Give something you really like to a friend of yours before you leave. Explain that it is a "bring-back", which is a gift you temporarily give with the intention that it will literally bring you back so you can reclaim it.

What about taking a sketchbook and supplies on the plane? I don't think they are banned. Although I haven't heard if Heathrow is permitting any carry on items at all-and if they are not---well, that won't work. You could sketch on the first part of the trip, and then just throw the sketches away (I know, could be hard, but could also be symbolic-getting rid of your fear, etc.).

Can you ask your Doc for a couple of tranquilizers just for this trip? Initially that really helped me a lot.

Visualizing all the things you'll see (drawing them?) when you arrive is a good idea. Puts you on the ground!

The truth, for me, is that I love the illusion of control in my life. And flying is just one big reminder that really-I have no control. So I learned to be right w/everyone before I leave, so there is no unfinished business and then, off I go, into the wild blue yonder.

My heart goes out to you-I know what it is like to be terrified w/each little noise and change in altitude. The more I flew (for work that I wanted) the better it got.

Good luck.


Sandra said...

Wow, thank-you all for your amazing comments :) It acutally eases my worry when I hear of people who don't mind flying at all. It makes me realize I'm making a big stink about nothing!

Ari-Asha - Thanks so much for your suggestions! I actually just got some Valium from my doctor to avoid any anxiety attacks that are inevitable. And I will defenitely be taking my sketchbook along since I plan on keeping a travel journal. (hopefully they don't revoke it in Heathrow!) Your suggestions about visualization and making things right with everyone are awesome. Very wise therapy. I will defenitely keep that in mind!

Amy Zaleski said...

I hope that making this art in lieu of your impending plane travel was somewhat cathartic for you. I've only flown overseas once...drank plenty in the airport and slept the whole way. The only way to handle it, if you ask me! :-)

DEW said...

OK, I totally understand your fear of flying and I could go and tell you how it is far more dangerous to drive your car, or put on those 4-inch spike heeled shoes and try to go down stairs, etc. I also know that these facts don't help at all!! So I'll leave you with words of wisdom from my better half who always has something to say about my fears. "Remember - it's the pilot's butt too". He's got a point - the pilots almost always get killed in crash so they have a vested interest! I'm with you though, transporters is the way to go - just as long as you don't listen to McCoy! :) GREAT art work!!! But I have to get on a plane next week and two weeks later.... :-O

Hubby Hubberson said...

Poor Girlie. Cute drawings tho, doodly doodlerson. You better knock yourself out. 9 long-ass, sweaty hours on a plane with dear hubby is enough to drive anyone bonkers. Besides, then he can steal your mp3 player and listen to music. Or, he can put twizzlers up your nose while you snore...or even better, he can gently croon Metallica songs in your ear... y'know, as a way to get you through such trying times.