Hi all!

Just found this webpage and forum. So great to finally find some people in a similar situation as myself. And I am already very encouraged by reading all your stories.

 

Here's the situation: I'm 31, living in Gothenburg, south Sweden. I've always been an anxious flyer since i began flying in my teens. And even though i fly about 4-6 times a year, my fear haven't gone away. It has subsided during some time, but only to return later. My greatest fear is turbulence. And even though i logically understand it's not dangerous, i dread it, every time. When it's not bumpy, i just sit and wait for it, sweaty, pale and silent.

 

Now, the 7 of December i'm commencing a long trip to Australia to visit my partners family. I have a itinerary that really really scares me:

Gothenburg - London, London-Hong Kong, Hong Kong-Melbourne, Melbourne-Sydney, Sydney-Tokyo, Tokyo-London, London-Gothenburg. All during 5 weeks. Just looking at this text makes me quiver.

 

The thing also is this: since we booked the flights a year ago I have been diagnosed with a mild to moderate anxiety disorder, including some (but not frequent) panic attacks and agoraphobia. I guess you can imagine the level of anxiety I feel at the thought of adding my greatest fear of all, FLYING, on top of this. 

 

I really don't know what to do! Even though I know I have been up there, the though of it now horrifies me. But I really don't want to cancel. I know, deep down, I will make I through. Right now i just don't know how!?

 

My greatest fear is that it will be bumpy all the way, all the flights! My other fear is obviously to have a major melt down or panic attack on board. I would really need your support and suggestions during the next few weeks to get me through this!

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Hi John

 

Wow thats some trip! For me, I would say get as much info as possible from this site. Explanations of noises and things that happen during a flight helped me.

As for the panic attacks, I really made an effort this time with my breathing and relaxtion technique. I know I shouldnt say this, but on Virgin they have a fear of flying recording you can listen to. Its part of their IFE. It was good to put on during the flight.

Lastly I would write to all the airlines you are flying with and explain you are nervous and get panic attacks. That way the crew will keep an eye on you

Thanks Amanda for the reply!

After a week of constant anxiety and worst-case-scenario thoughts i finally feel a bit better. Still waiting for Keiths book to arrive. During that time I'm trying to read another self-help book.

 

I acctually counted the number of flights I've don through the years: 41! But this is by far the longest once I've ever done, and they are so many! I try to tell myself that it is no big difference between a short flight and a longer. That helps a bit.

 

My greatest worry is turbulence. And in my head i se us beeing tossed around the plane for the whole flight. It is ridiculous I know, but just seeing this in my head horrifes me. I think if i knew beforehand that the flight would be smooth, I would feel much calmer. 

 

So my question to Keith (or anyone else reading) is: how common is moderate and severe turbulence? For how long can it last really? I remember we flew over a thunderstorm in north Italy two years ago. I remember it took about 30-45 minutes for us to pass it, and it was a bit bumpy, but not that kind of havoc that i always imagine in my head.

 

Also, after a week of constant anxiety and panic attacks just by thinking about my flights, I began to ask myself if I really should go on this trip, feeling like this?

I'll say it before everyone else does.

YES you should do this. You cannot let it control your life.:-)

Yes you should...because you'll have to face flying one day again so why prolong the worry? Why waste all this worry you've been thru?

 

Severe Turbulence is very uncommon moderate turbulence  is occasional  but why worry about it until you're in it .........then rather than worry, have a strategy to deal with it .

 

Nothing will happen to you ...it'll just feel awful to you, but if I were sitting next to you on the flight  I'd carry on sleeping or reading the paper.

 

Keith

We came back from Heathrow up to Manchester last year. It actually was a really helpful flight. Although I dreaded it (it was on quite a small plane) the was a pilot on the front row of passenger seats and all the time he was just reading a paper. I now try and keep that in my mind when on a flight.

Would you feel scared if you were being bumped around in a bus ,in a car or travelling in a train -some of these journeys can be more bumpy than flying. Instead of worrying try and think of positive ways to help you succeed-deep relaxing breathing for instance.Also if you are tense any slight movement of the plane will feel like awful turbulence to you in a state of heightened anxiety.

Elizabeth

Keith, thank you so much! It acctually feels really reassuring coming from you. It's really strange that I worry so much about it and assume the worst. But in a way I know it's my phobia speaking, not my intellect. I have tried to think of the alternatives, i.e. not going. And as you point out, what then? I would like to continue flying, and i would like to get rid of my fear. I know this is the perfect time to do so, or at least challange it.

 

Amanda, wouldn't it be great to always have pilot to look at during the flights and se how calm, he or she is? :-) I usually look at the FAs going about their business. I try to think about how this is their work and they do all of this all the time, for a living. They wold not do so if it was hazardous.

 

Elizabeth! You are right! I need to focus on positive things and strategies to manage my anxiety. I have already practiced some breathing exercises, since i have panic attacks from time to time in daily life. But I think i need to practice more to be able to do them in an environment that my phobia percieves as dangerous.  

 

Thank you som much for your feedback! This site and this forum really helps! Reading about you taking flights and managing fine makes me feel hopeful!

 

Allright just an update:
I acctually feel ok now. I've read a lot and I've become to realize I'm exaggerating things. I will not be tossed around violently for 11 hours. I will make it there and I will be fine.

Went to see my doctor the other day and got some diazepam. Dunno if I'm going to take them or not. I'm thinking about taking them for the first long haul flight, and if it feels ok maybe not for the second. Anyone here used diazepam? Does it work at all?

Next week I will talk to my father. He is an ex fearful flyer. Right now he's i Cyprus. That inspires me!

John said:

Keith, thank you so much! It acctually feels really reassuring coming from you. It's really strange that I worry so much about it and assume the worst. But in a way I know it's my phobia speaking, not my intellect. I have tried to think of the alternatives, i.e. not going. And as you point out, what then? I would like to continue flying, and i would like to get rid of my fear. I know this is the perfect time to do so, or at least challange it.

 

Amanda, wouldn't it be great to always have pilot to look at during the flights and se how calm, he or she is? :-) I usually look at the FAs going about their business. I try to think about how this is their work and they do all of this all the time, for a living. They wold not do so if it was hazardous.

 

Elizabeth! You are right! I need to focus on positive things and strategies to manage my anxiety. I have already practiced some breathing exercises, since i have panic attacks from time to time in daily life. But I think i need to practice more to be able to do them in an environment that my phobia percieves as dangerous.  

 

Thank you som much for your feedback! This site and this forum really helps! Reading about you taking flights and managing fine makes me feel hopeful!

 

What a great adventure! You will see more of the world in 5 weeks than most see in 10 years!

Definitely worth watching the FAs. I'm starting to love the way they looked bored and completely uninterested when turbulence happens. I actually think they quite enjoy it when it is stronger because it means the seatbelt light comes on and they can have a rest.

I also spent some time feeling the 'turbulence' when in cars, on buses and trains. It's surprising how much more bumpy that is. I guess our minds just don't find being on bumpy bus as scary (even though tha driver is a lot less controlled than the pilot).

Personally I'd forget the Diazepam. I like the implication of what Keith said above - you're gonna worry about it sometime, why not now? Especially as you will be more prepared than normal.

Hi John,

 

Oh, I so relate. My fear of flying is really really bad, though I've flown over 76 times.  

I would take the diazepam (though if you've never taken it before - and you probably have if you have panic attacks - try it out before you get on the plane).  It's not going to take away the fear by any means, but it'll prevent your body from overreacting too much.  Unfortunately when you have that much adrenaline in your system due to the anxiety, the full effect of the medication probably won't kick in until after you get off the plane, at which point you'll be totally exhausted from adrenaline+a benzo!   But I would take it anyway.  Probably better than not taking it at all.  
Just my 2 cents from someone who suffers from OCD and a terrible flying phobia. :)

I want to take an 8 hour flight to the US  in January and I constantly back in and out of it. :P

Hi John,

Having a panic attack has always been my biggest fear, the idea of having a panic mid air was the one thing that freaked me out for years, although it wasnt turbulence that was my main trigger it was other people ! 

I can really say the one thing that has changed this for me is education. Understanding why things happen on a plane, the sensation of dropping when the plan stops climbing, the noises, odd bleeps and messages to the stewardesses, all these things that used to make me tense and anxious just dont bother me at all any more.

 

Read the book when you get it, ask millions of what you think are stupid questions! I think Keith is still offering £20 to anyone who asks him a question he's never been asked before!

 

All the best

 

Jim

 

I'm so confident Jim I've raised that to £50.00

 

Questions about fear of flying of course

 

Keith

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