Hi everyone. I'm Heidi. It's great to meet you all.
I am desperate for help. I have a three hour flight coming up early July and I am already in tears about it. It may seem ridiculous but my main fear is taking off. More specifically, it's the feeling and sensations associated with taking off. It makes me feel horrible. I have a full-blown panic attack every single time (at least that's how it's been in the last 5 or so years). I feel incredibly strange when the plane takes off and the feeling terrifies me. I feel like my soul is being sucked out of my body. I feel my stomach sinking but it's my entire body as well. I don't just feel lightheaded, I feel lightbodied (which I assume is the possible neg g forces at work?) and really really dizzy. It's like someone has just pulled the floor out from underneath me and I'm falling. I gradually feel more normal when the plane levels out and then I have to work on getting the feeling back into my hands and feet. This experience is so traumatic for me even though it only lasts for under a minute. I've tried researching this problem online but I haven't found anything. I found one help forum post (on another site), but the 'pilot' completely misinterpreted what the poster meant, saying that planes are safe etc and missing the point.
This trip I will be flying alone. My boyfriend is usually there to hold my hand and tell me everything will be fine during that bit. He and I figured out that the exact moment when I start to feel this awful sensation is when the back wheels leave the ground and everything feels like it's falling back.
I can't tell you how bad this sensation is for me. I know most people don't even feel it or feel some sinking in the tummy for a few seconds, but I don't. I feel like my skull is being squashed.
I always request a window seat as I need to try and distract myself from the feeling with the view (love the view by the way) but it's always an epic battle between what I'm seeing and what I'm feeling. I find it so hard to believe that no one else on the flight feels this way during take off.
The rest of the flight, I'm great. Sure, I'm terrified of turbulence, but that's not what is making me lose sleep at night. I hope someone out there understands exactly what I'm going through.
It's embarrassing but I even get nervous watching passenger view take off videos on youtube. I can feel my heart rate going up when the plane speeds up to take off and I can feel myself panicking at that moment when the plane leaves the ground. I must stress again, this has nothing to do with a plane actually flying, safety of the plane. It's the feeling. I would fear cars if I got this neg-g feeling driving.
I'm afraid this just isn't true..there aren't black listed airports and the oxygen levels cannot change during takr off. I don't want to discredit anyone who offers help...but we have to stick with the truth.
There are some restrictions at some airports but this is to restore normal performance criteria
I had a feeling what she told me was not entirely correct. The landing and take off didn't seem in any way different from any other landing and take off I had experienced elsewhere. Thanks again for clearing that one up for me.
I have seen a doctor and I got a prescription for a medication that will hopefully relax me. Apparently it's in the Valium family but it doesn't last in the system as long. I was wondering when I should take. Does the time they give me mean that's when I have to board or is this when the plane departs the airport? I don't want to take it too close to take-off as it won't have time to work.
I'm such a mess about this. I've been watching Claire's take-off video and trying to calm myself down. I haven't been able to watch it without panicking yet. I did however, manage to calculate (from that video) that that feeling lasts for about 50 seconds from when the back wheels leave the ground.
My flight is July 3rd which is really really soon. I'm terrified. I hope the medication works and I hope I have a nice person sitting next to me.
Oh honey! I am so sorry I didn't get this message earlier! Did you end up going?
I know what you mean, it's that feeling of freaking out and being completely alone. It's awful. I wish I could have been there for you.
I don't know how the drug works but I'd guess an hour or so before the flight...you should read the label or ask your doctor really.
Keep watching all the take off videos on this network as many times as you can....20 at least...and you'll dicscover that your anxiety will reach a peak and not get worse.
Don't hope for things...be confident, that's much more under your control and useful. Hoping lays the responsibility somewhere else...and that won't work. Don't write I'm terrified say to yourself ...whatever happens I'm going to cope...I might be anxious but I will control it. July the 3rd isn't really soon...it's the day after July the 2nd. These are facts and will help you to keep things in order in your head.
You're not in a mess you're anxious and that can be controlled, being in a mess can't be controlled ..it's controlling you. I know I'm hard but I want you to succeed and I can't say anything that won't help you.
Imagine someone from this network is sitting next to you on the flight. George Clooney is here under another name! So is Leonardo what's his name...there all here...Tom...Bonio...Stingy thingy.
Hahahahahahahaha!!! Yes, I shall do. Stingy thingy. Love it! :D
You're right. I shouldn't say things like that. I've got to realise that no matter what I'll be okay. It's like there's a battle going on inside me. On one hand I can not wait to see all my friends in New Zealand and have an amazing time with them and then I think about having to get there and come home again. If only there was a way to get rid of the fear as easily as say, deleting a file off your hard drive.
You know, going through all the discussions on this site today I'm really surprised just how common this taking-off fear is. I had no idea so many people dreaded this part of the flight like I do.
I will take your advice Keith. I'll watch those videos at least 20 times. I'll let you know how I feel by the end of the 40th view.
I've been seeing a therapist the past few weeks about this. He's taught me some breathing exercises which I'm getting better at. Apparently I was a bit shoddy with my breathing. I found out that I have the breathing pattern of an anxious person. Thankfully, I'm learning to control it without hyperventilating.
I've just finished an audio course for the fear of flying and we'll release it as soon as the new site is ready and I say exactly what you've suggested deleting file soff a hard drive is what you are trying to do.....except the fear of flying is a virus...it's everywhere and everything is contaminated....you need some good anti spy ware firewall etc....and I hope that's what these sites do.
My flight is on Friday morning at 9:30am Aussie EST. I am not a happy camper to say the very least.
I really don't want to take this flight. It's actually ruining the excitement about my holiday. I'm worried that I'll be doing my breathing exercises during taxi but as soon as we speed up and take off it'll all go to poop. I know it's not good to say that - negative reinforcement - but I guess I'm still uncertain about how well I'm going to do with this. I feel trapped when the plane starts to move because I know there's no getting out of it now. The sinking feeling is inevitable.
I'm starting to worry that I won't get on the plane. It's embarrassing, but I'm in tears right now as I type.
YOU WILL GET ON THE PLANE...dont you worry Heidi! Remember this is all anticipatory anxiety and the build up to a flight is ALWAYS much worse than the take off itself. when I was flying back from Morocco a month ago I honestly didnt think I would be able to get on the plane I actually almost didnt but then I checked into this site and I felt so much support it literally took me through the flight...once I had met the crew take off was so quick we were up before we knew it. You are not trapped but see it as being on the way to somewhere, its more trapping not to fly than to fly...I feel like crying for you as I know how you feel it is so so upsetting. Take the next few days in stages and the way to the airport...then checking in...then meeting the crew....you will be fine. Just think you are NOT alone, however bad it feels you will soon be congratulating yourself after take off then during cruise and then on landing and THEN....you will be posting it on here and we will all be cheering you!!!! You can do this but dont feel pressured...I will cheer you whether you go or not, we are brave to face the fear and even if we have set backs that DOESNT mean we will give up...I just know that you will feel better once you are up and away on your dream holiday! Never be embarrassed. Most people are too scared to ever face their fears - at least we are trying. It will be tough but you will get through it. Acceptance is key - our fear is not going to disappear miraculously and it will be really hard and we will cry and feel trapped but it will pass and then we will feel proud and strong. It will have been worth it. Am hoping as I write this that it will get easier for me too...I just wish it would go away too :( it makes me so sad that I cant eradicate this fear like you...I just want to get rid of it completely.
Have more confidence in yourself. It won't be easy to keep your breathing exercises going BUT IF YOU DO, YOU WILL FEEL IN CONTROL AND YOU WILL BE IN CONTROL.
That's the payoff....at the time the pressure to give up is greatest you've got to keep going and come out the other side. This will have two benefits, first you'll show yourself who's in charge that's the concious you and you'll get confidence in being able to do it again.
Caro has just written some useful stuff ...we can wish wish wish and hope hope hope but facing it and doing it is the way to succeed. Look at those take off videos again and let that anxiety rise and breathe slowly counting, relax your muscle, think of somewhere happy and peacfull.
And if you're embarrassed, so what? Be selfish, do what you need to do for yourself and if other people are embarrassed let them be...if you're embarrassed live with it because I know that when you've done this flight and reported back on your success you'll be embarrassed by the praise you'll get...and I'll be leading it!
Are you doing your breathing exercises every day ? - at every opportunity?
If you keep doing them they will become second nature to you.
I find inhaling through your nose and counting slowly to 5, followed by holding your breath while continuing counting this time to 3 or if you can manage it to 5 slowly followed by exhalation through your open mouth again counting mentally to 5 and telling yourself I am breathing away any fear or anxiety I have. Not only have I found deep breathing useful for flying but also in other situations- before speaking in public and also if having difficulty in getting to sleep these warm nights we are having in U.K.
Anticipating the flight is far worse than the flight itself- honestly !!!
all the best,
I don't like take off either. But you know sometimes I am nervous and other times I think I will be and actually when I get on the plane and sit down I am actually fine. So my point is you do not know how you are going to feel until you get on there.
The anxiety sucks but try and live in the now. There is no point fretting about it when your flight is in 2 days. Then before your flight you can take the medication which will certainly help calm you and practice breathhing.
I think you will be surprised by how much this all helps. Also I really find takeoff videos helpful there are lots of them here and on various airplane enthusiasts webpages. I often spend a couple of hours watching them and I plan to do this before my flight in August.
Good luck, if it makes you feel better I know your flight will be fine you will get to your destination safe and sound and comfortably.