Get the only on-line Fear of Flying Course at premium.flyingwithoutfear.com
After avoiding flights in December last year and in May this year, I managed to fly again (August: Zurich - Düsseldorf, September: Zurich - London, October: Zurich - HK - Taipei). The next long-haul flight is on Friday to San Francisco.
When flying back from Taiwan via Hong Kong on October 20, I did not cope as well as on the flight to Taiwan. The flight lasted more than 12 hours. Both kids slept more than 8 hours into the flight which left around midnight in Hong Kong. In terms of kids, ideal conditions. We hit one bumpy area after another. They changed altitude and so it got quieter for a while. It was not the strongest I have experienced, but it was enough to wake people up ... and it kept coming and going. In the last three hours of the flights (when kids were awake and demanding), my stress hormone buildup was such that I was close to panic. Feelings of looming disaster surfaced. It felt very uncomfortable. I tried to calm myself down by telling myself that it was just turbulence, etc. To no avail. But I can still say that I am making progress: In the past I probably would have promised myself not to board a flight again if I ever be back on safe ground. This time I already told myself in that very situation that I will take this flight to San Francisco in three weeks.
First, I was very dissapointed about myself. I now can view it from a different perspective: I did not panic and stayed relatively ok in difficult conditions (long patches of turbulence, long flight, long stay in HK, another flight before that, did not take another Xanax in Hong Kong, could not sleep the night before the flight, etc.).
Anticipatory anxiety is still mild. I wonder if I should do the "strengthening exercise" that is described in the SOAR-Book. Has anyone experience with it?
Tomorrow I am going to fly to San Francisco. ...
If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair ...
The last few days, including today, have been very stressful ... I am a bit nervous now and I wonder (although may be I should not) how that would affect my emotional response tomorrow. I now have a bit more than one hour to relax. Then I go to bed and go to the airport with my wife and kids plenty early. The bags are already checked. It is very cool that Swiss International Airlines offers check-in on the evening prior to the day of departure.
The flight is completely full. We have seats in the very back of the plane. That has advantages in terms of the kids, but it also makes me more nervous concerning turbulence. We tried to change the reservation, but to no avail. So, I guess, I will go with it. Maybe that's now level 2, after a handled the flight to Taiwan via Hong Kong ;)
I will post how it went when I am in the US.
Currently, we are staying in San Diego. After arriving at SFO, we drove to one of my wife's aunts at whose house we stayed overnight before driving to San Diego.
I have not felt so good on a flight in a long time! At times, I was completely relaxed. When we hit some turbulence, it was helpful to keep telling myself "turbulence does not harm the plane; it may feel uncomfortable to me, but it is ok", "those guys have done this thousands of times, they know what they are doing". I consciously "handed over" control to the crew again and again. For moments, I could let go. I am very excited about that experience! Especially after the last flight from Hong Kong back to Zurich that felt like a set-back when I felt panicky during the last few hours of the flight. Also, kids were very demanding on the plane, lots of stress prior to the flight, etc. I also have to add that I took 0.5 mg Alprazolam/Xanax Retard on the evening before the flight (I then slept six hours without interruption). And then again after boarding. Of course, I don't know how I would have experienced the flight without that. The next step will be to do it without anxiolytics. Except for the ascending part of the flight, it was one of the smoothest flights in a while. That made it easier, too.
I am curious about the return flight in two weeks...
After the return flight, there are no more planned flights. Starting with August, I have taken a flight each month. Maybe I should maintain that frequency ;) ... which may lead to financial turbulence ...
ps: On this flight, it was possible to tune in to the fore camera in order to see what the pilots see. I know that flying through clouds can be a bit bumpy. When I saw that we were flying through clouds on the screen, I knew what to expect. The predictability made it much easier to bear.
sounds as if you're managing to find some good coping strategies .... well done.
Wow Patrik, you are getting to travel to some great places. Well done you! We've booked our next trip, on the return leg, I have booked 2 flights, Who would have thought I would have done that 2years ago?
Hi Keith and Amanda
Thanks you for your encouraging words!
And wow Amanda, it is amazing how things can change if we are willing to face our fears...
I do enjoy it here in the bay area. We are staying at my sister's for a few days. Her and our kids have a lot of fun together. The insights that I have gained from dealing with my fear of flying also influence other areas of my life. Fear of flying as an opportunity to grow ...
The return flight from SF to Zurich is on Friday. Again about 12 hours. The last flight went really well, but I know that old cognitive patterns tend to surface again and that it takes "training" for the new perspective on flying to sink in. I try to have realistic expectations on the next flight and I know how to deal with the old thinking styles.