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Has anyone conquered fear of flying?

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
Tell me some positive stories please! I am totally phobic and it gets worse with age. I mean, true phobia, defies logic. The anxiety and physical symptoms are the worst. I wake up at night with nightmares before a flight, can't sleep the night before, throw up, get diarhea, cry, you name it. I was supposed to be on a flight today, got on the plane and they had double booked my seat. They wound up bumping me to another flight that turned out to be full. At that point, I couldn't take the anxiety anymore and canceled the trip. Luckily, they refunded my ticket.

I WANT to get over this. There are too many places that I want to go and see to be grounded by an illogical phobia. I am going to see a psychologist that deals with anxiety and phobias, but am dubious about HOW they can get past all the physical stuff. The relaxation tapes, etc in the past have done nothing for me. The only thing that has helped in the past is xanax, lol. And all that did for me was make me think 'well, if the plane goes down, it's all good. I'm relaxed!' My friends are all shocked that I have this phobia b/c I am pretty tough in all aspects of the rest of my life. What can I say? Phobias defy logic!
post #2 of 38
Probably wont help but have you tried those bracelets or are they only for motion sickness. My friend whos a pilot was telling me about it. I get nervous when i fly but it's probably because im afraid i'll crash it when im landing, lol.

Good luck with this
post #3 of 38
Thread Starter 
Yeah, the bracelets help with motion sickness. Unfortunately (or I guess I should say 'Fortunately"), not my problem. But thanks!
post #4 of 38
I too am very afraid of flying. I am never going to love it or enjoy it but flying with my dd (she is 2 1/2) has made it bearable. I don't want her to have my fear so I decided to just do it, I have to for her to visit our friends and family in Va. The more I do it the more I can control my reaction. The first time I flew with her I had nightmares and had trouble sleeping for weeks, now I am going to be flying for the fifth time in five months on Tuesday and I have not been having trouble sleeping or anything. When I get to the airport I will still get all sweaty, red and be really short of breath but getting my dd to the gate, settled and distracted helps keep my mind off of it. I also take with me some lotion or lip balm with that menthol/eucalyptus smell to it and smell it often so I feel like I can breath more easily. I am sure all the other passengers love me. :LOL
Ofcourse don't mention any "problems" or I will be freaking out about the what ifs. :LOL
post #5 of 38
I have the same phobia. This past Nov my father in law passed away. The only way for me and DH to make it to colorado in time to be at his viewing was to fly. I had to...no choice. I made it. When we boarded the plane and got seated and were getting ready to taxi out i heard a loud BANG! I, of course, immediately stood up and yelled "what was that???!!!" The flight attendant didn't even bat an eyelash at me as he was walking by and said it was just the cargo door being closed. We were sitting right over it so heard it loudly. When the plane banked to one side to get lined up with the runway it just happened to be banking in my direction...in other words it was like the pilot was trying to throw me out the window. I had my seat belt on but my poor DH caught the brunt of my panic. I grabbed his arm and proceeded to attempt to climb OVER him to get away from the window. It of course didn't work since i was locked into my seat and he sustained several nice scratches and a couple bruises. I can laugh at it now....but at the time i thought i was going to die any second.
post #6 of 38
Yes, I can honestly say I have conquered this fear. It was so bad for me at one point that I stood on the runway with my husband and baby crying and saying, "NO! I can't do it!" The whole plane (which was small, hence no jetway) could see me practically in hysterics. The flight attendant had to get off the plane and come talk to me. She put her hands on my shoulders and said, "I have five children at home. I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't safe. Come on, you can do it." (I did eventually get on.) I would hyperventilate, panic, cry, etc.

I always knew it was irrational too, but that's the problem with irrational fears, you can't just explain them away.

Here is what helped me:
1. When boarding, tell the flight attendant you're nervous. Ask them for help. Ask if you can talk to the pilot (which they will often let you do). My big fears were takeoff and turbulence. I would ask ahead of time, "Is it going to be a bumpy ride today?" A few times they told me yes, and while I was nervous about the bumps, it actually made me feel better to know that they anticipated the bumps, they did not constitute an emergency, and everything was fine. The FAs will come check on you and always made me feel better. Seeing the FAs get up out of their seats and start getting things ready for beverage service after takeoff always makes me feel better too... like the real experts know everything is fine. If the plane was about to crash, would they be pouring Pepsi?

2. Deep breathing. Something to focus on instead of your thoughts. In for eight and out for twelve.

3. Close the window shade or your eyes during takeoff. I hated seeing the plane bank, so I stopped looking.

4. Praying before getting on the plane. Praying before take off.

5. Talking myself through the flight. It's normal to have bumps as they move through the cloud layer. It's not the plane crashing. I would tell myself that, "It's going to be bumpy in just a minute, that's just the cloud layer."

6. Repeated exposure. The more you do it, the less afraid you become.

At this point, I still do not enjoy flying. But that has a more to do with hating airports, hating sitting in the little seat for hours, hating the dry air and the food than about the actual flight. I don't enjoy it, but I also don't sweat and tremble and cry.
post #7 of 38
i'm grounded by my fear of flying too. so let me know if something works for you.
post #8 of 38
I hope this isn't breaking any NFL rules but I take ativan. I have never taken any type of anti-anxiety medication in my life, hell I've never taken any real medication of any kind. I am not a phobic flyer but had enough discomfort so that there were opportunities that I would pass up so that I didn't have to fly. Also, when I did fly, I didn't fully enjoy myself because I was always worried about the trip back.

Considering I used to fly overseas about twice per month, I knew I needed to do something. I asked my OB about taking some kind of anti-anxiety drug and he said, "since September 11th, just about everyone I know is taking something". He wrote me a prescription for ativan and it is wonderful. I am completely lucid (I am able to drive on it, it doesn't make you loopy) and I can take one at 7 in the morning and be fine all day without having to nap.

I won't fly without it, it has been a godsend. I mean that. I flew a lot and even though I could "do it", I was so uncomfortable and really didn't enjoy my vacations because I was filled with dread about the return. I did the whole self-hypnosis, focus on breathing, distract with DVD, thing and I just felt too uncomfortable. Now I am totally anxiety free.

Good luck!

ETA: my father is a phobic flyer and has only flown once in his life - at the age of 72 he flew cross country to my sister's wedding. We joked that if he made it one way, he would surely be driving back. In fact, he flew both ways. He took ativan to do it. He said he would do more flying but unfortunately he was diagnosed terminally ill soon after that so he never had another opportunity.
post #9 of 38
My grandmother brings those little bottles of wine in her purse. She says it helps relax her. She gets so nervous and my grandfather is Mr World Traveler so they go to alot of places. I went with them to Europe when I was a teenager and through the turbulents I heard her saying "we are on a bumpy road on a bus, we are on a bumpy road on a bus" and I noticed that even years later, I say the same thing to myself and for some reason it helps me to associate something you do daily (driving) with flying.

I used to be wayyyy more scared but now I have to hold DS and he gets scared so I have to act brave even though I am scared too. I HATE takeoff. I never swear and the last takeoff we did I yelled "Oh ____!" Eek. I was so embarrassed. I dont even know where that came from! I cant look out the windows either until we are all the way up. It helps not to see the weird angles and such when you first go up (at least for me). I also really try to focus on the flight attendants and the regulars (the business people). If they dont look worried, I figure everything is okay.
post #10 of 38
I never have gotten over my fear of flying, but I do get on a plane with much nervousness if I have to get someplace that you can't reach by another mode of transporation. India is the worst. I am so afraid of flying over the ocean.
post #11 of 38
Moved to Personal Growth...
post #12 of 38
Thread Starter 
The repeated exposure makes sense. I used to fly every few months and while I didn't like it, I didn't have the panic that I do now. I too have done the talk to the pilot/FA routine. Once was on a flight where I was flying alone with two of my small children. It was snowing and I knew it was going to be bumpy and stressful. The pilot came on the loudspeaker every few minutes to reassure the cabin that everything was fine and they were going to try to clear to a smoother altitude. It was kind of funny b/c I'm sure it had to do with my panicked conversation I had with him before takeoff. Oh, and he let my 2 year old crawl all over him and push on the controls while he was talking to me - I told him, 'you know, this isn't making me feel any better!' lol

I'll have to ask about the ativan. The problem is that most of those drugs they won't let you take while pregnant, so that was out of question this flight. Sigh. I'll let you know how the meeting with the 'anxiety doctor' goes.
post #13 of 38
I'm sort of lurking here because I haven't flown for 4 years. DH and I just booked a flight to the beach in Mexico and we leave next week. I'm super nervous.
My phobia is illogical too, although I have experienced some strange landings and take-offs.

Here is what I have recently figured out: I like to feel like I have control of my life. I rarely let my husband drive me around and do all sorts of strange things to show myself that I have control over enough things that I can actually stop bad things from happening (silly I know, but somewhere in me believes this).
When I think about flying it's like, Wow, this is really out of my hands, I don't even know what to do in the case of an emergency. This really freaks me out.

So no, I haven't conquered the fear of flying. What is conquering anyways? I think being present with what arises is important and not trying to deny the feelings are there.

Have to run
post #14 of 38
I have flown several times a year since I was a small child (my parents were divorced and lived in different states and I flew often to visit my dad).

In my early 20s, I developed a major phobia about flying, and would have disrupted sleep more weeks prior to a flight, and panic attacks during the flight. The only thing that helped during the flight was Xanax.

A few years ago, I came across a book called Flying Without Fear by Duane Brown. It helped me a lot, in that it demystified many of the frightening noises and sensations that kept me so anxious and hypervigilant during flights (for example, it explains the various engine noises you hear during takeoff, the system of “chimes” flight attendants use, the degrees of turbulence, etc.) I re-read this before I have to take any flight.

I also found that when I fly with my son, I am distracted somewhat from my own fears by needing to care for him, and by not wanting him to see me panicked. In fact, I was recently able to take a short flight with him without needing any meds! But I still take meds when I fly alone; otherwise, the anxiety is just overwhelming.

I love to travel too much to let it keep me grounded. I don’t like taking the Xanax, but because it does help me fly (and because I don’t take it at any other time) it is worth it to me because of the wonderful places and visits with friends and family that flying allows me to take.
post #15 of 38
i'm a phobic flyer. but i fly pretty regularly. some periods have been worse for me than others. one time i was flying alone and almost called dh to come get me after he dropped me off at the airport. i had major diahrrea & panic attacks. i took a xanax and it got me through. i take xanax with me just in case i need it

most of the time it isn't that bad now. i just get sweaty palms and pits and scared. and traveling with the baby defintely is a good distraction

i say a little mantra prayer every time. 'dear god, please carry this plane in your arms and safely land in ____' and visualize being carried

i don't think it is an illogical phobia at all :LOL it definitely isn't logical that huge hulking pieces of metal should be that high up in the air!!! so i think thats the first step in getting over a phobia. allowing yourself to believe it IS a perfectly logical fear. its ok to be scared and lots of people are. (i'm an engineer and i understand the physics behind flight....but i have an overactive imagination)

during turbulence dh will hold my hand i feel like if anything did happen at least i'd be with dh and ds.
post #16 of 38
Just giving this a little bump (I was about to post a similar thread when I found this one) to see how my fellow frightened flyers are doing.

I am contimplating a trip in February to visit my SIL and her family in VA (I'm in New England) and I have been going around and around in my head about it. I would REALLY like to visit them....let DD meet her cousins (they've only seen each other once when she was a newborn)....be in a warmer climate....and honestly (the big perk)....I will be really nicely pampered by SIL....which my 7 month pregnant self will greatly appreciate!!

My options are....

Drive -- 10 hours straight through....NO WAY that will happen with a 20 month old so would require a hotel stay 1/2 way (DH doesn't feel this is a reasonable and safe option -- me driving alone on the interstate with our DD - in my tiny Corolla no less).

Train -- 12 hours....crazy $$$$ (like $350+ round trip) plus a 1 hour bus ride....the thought of being on a train ALL DAY with DD is enough to make me (although I am wondering about an overnight train....if DD was in her carseat....maybe she'd most of the way there )


Fly -- Direct flight...about 2 1/2 hours flight time. I can get relatively cheap tickets on Southwest.

My DH sees this as a no-brainer....flying is the most convenient, cheapest, safest, easiest way to get there.

But just our hypotheitical conversation about getting on a plane made me toss and turn and want to :Puke ALL NIGHT last night.

post #17 of 38
I just recently got over my fear of flying a couple months ago when i moved to Alaska.

Sorry i don't have any tips, cuz i thought to myself, why am i not nausea (spelling), and i just felt totally comfortable. Not even scared at all. It's about time since i kinda am majoring in aviation, lol.

I know this isn't gonna help, but when i fly small planes it makes all the difference if im the one flying, not the passenger. It's a control issue with me. My flight instructor said that a lot of people get sick cuz they're not in control. If you talk to the pilot, and i agree with the above poster that if you know it's gonna be bumpy and you know what's going on it makes it a lot easier. Works for me at least.
post #18 of 38
with me it was realted to fear of dying (not death, I'll go on about that...) and lack of control. pretty much the same reason I got car sick (as a passenger, perhaps motion sick is a better way to put it, it happened on boats too, just being above the water and knowing I couldn't breathe it, more fear of dying). but I didn't get sick on planes, just anxious and scared. i've nearly had them let me off several times. i used to dig roller coasters as a kid, but when i got older, i still tried them, and for a while, i kept having them let me off before it started.

well, fear of dying is not irrational. after all, dying could be physically painful, anxiety and anticipation are awful, and it could come sooner than you expect and a number of other things. fear of death, explicitly, would be what happens next. when i got over my fear of death, dying wasn't such a big deal, because it doesn't last for an eternity. i can't suggest how you get over the fear of death. that's very personal.

getting over the fear of being in control, that's another thing entirely. it has to do with your ego. with trust and judgement. i stopped 'back seat' driving (silently), and decided that I trusted the driver to do at least as well as I did in that position and it's no longer a control issue.

best wishes. i realize that probably was no help at all.

peace out

post #19 of 38
I wouldn't say I'm over my fear of flying, just because I've not had opportunity to fly in the past several years. But three years ago, when our whole family was flying back east for my husband's sister's August wedding, I was very nervous--for months--about the impending flights from California to Michigan and back. Two takeoffs and two landings each way! It was going to be our first time flying with our DDs, so I didn't want to be an anxious mess.

This sounds really dumb, but I got on the Internet and Googled "fear of flying" and up came some Fear of Flying online course. It was free, written by some airline pilot, and it included noises and explanations and lots of common sense, comforting statements about flying. I went through it several times--click, click--and I've got to say, it helped a lot. I had my DDs watch it, too, just to familiarize them with the noises. We all got through our first flight with minimal anxiety, and it included a lot of turbulence.

There's more to the story, though. We only made it to Arizona because we JUST HAPPENED to be flying on the day that there was a HUGE power outage all over the northeastern states and Canada, so our connecting flight from Arizona to Michigan was cancelled and we were unable to rebook in time for the wedding. So we flew home to California and took a very peaceful driving vacation with all the time we had on our hands!
post #20 of 38
Originally Posted by mom2seven
The only thing that has helped in the past is xanax, lol. And all that did for me was make me think 'well, if the plane goes down, it's all good. I'm relaxed!' My friends are all shocked that I have this phobia b/c I am pretty tough in all aspects of the rest of my life. What can I say? Phobias defy logic!
Tell me about it. I'm not afraid of much but I'm really afraid of flying. I wasn't afraid until I had my son. The only way I got through it this summer was Xanax. And over the holiday, ds flew with his dad - without me. Talk about panic-inducing... I was up all night the night before, too stressed to sleep. I literally drove myself to exhaustion and passed out after he got on the plane. Then, when he hadn't called to say he'd arrived even 5 minutes after the landing, I started getting panicked again.

I've been thinking lately that part of my fear (besides the lack of control, which is a big aspect) is not understanding the physics of flight. I look up in the sky at a plane and I think, "That should really fall out of the sky." I know intellectually that it shouldn't - that there's a legitimate, explainable reason it doesn't, but I don't understand that reason. So, I'm going to learn in hopes that it will help me lose some of the fear. I'm also going to delve further into statistics to reassure myself that the chances of going down in a dramatic fashion a la Carmina Burana are so slim as to be insignificant. Maybe something like this would work for you, as well?
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