I have lots of anxiety which I know that many, many people suffer from or spend their lives trying to cope or battle it. I do a decent job controlling but recently I had to fly to California (about a 5-hour flight) and I really struggled the first 2 hours on the plane but made it through.
I fly all the time, the anxious in regards to flying has never been a problem but the boys and I had a very rough flight a little over a year ago and it was bad. People got off the flight, crying and stating they would never fly again. For us, as a family, we have to fly. Even though we were shaken, the boys were great, it really doesn’t bother them. We have flown a short flight to NYC which was fine but with every slight bounce of turbulence, my heart would race, I would start to sweat, feel sick to my stomach with a million butterflies, worried about getting physically sick, and would shake. I tried to keep these hidden as my kids were with me, and completely un-phased by the turbulence.
So, on this longer flight, this past week, I worried, almost panicked but knew that I had to go and that it would be fine. I spent the first two hours of the flight, with my eyes closed, listening to an audio book, taking deep breaths, and praying as we encountered expected turbulence. The first two hours were stressful but as the sun came-up and I keep telling myself that fear was not going to win, and the view from the plane was amazing as it was a clear sky. We flew over lots of snow covered fields and mountains.
About halfway through, my anxiety eased up, even though we had some little bumps here and there, I was able to look out the window and watch a TV show on my phone. If I had let my fear take over, I would not have got to see these amazing views from the plane. Also being able to see the ground helps me with my anxiety.
What I learned from this experience:
*I can manage my fear/anxiousness but with lots of control. But it is hard. Regardless, I have to fly and realistically flying is much safer than driving. So, I take a “suck it up” attitude but still have to focus on breathing.
*There is nothing wrong with me (there is nothing wrong with you). Anxiety comes in all shapes and forms, and each person’s trigger experience (what triggers your anxiety) is different. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are a spaz, or over dramatic, etc. You focus on you and helping you to cope to get through.
*Movies/videos, etc. are a blessing for distraction. Our flight had no screens/movies in the seats and it was a long flight. So, being prepared with things that are calming yet distracting is good.
*Calm yourself, talk to yourself, whether that is prayer or just building yourself up. I told myself “you can do this” “don’t let fear win” and other pick me ups. I also tried to logic myself to death. For example, I tell myself, “planes don’t go down hardly ever and there are millions of people flying in the air today and all of them will make back to the ground, safety.”
Face that fear and win. Prepare, set yourself up for success so you can cope and get through. You are stronger than you realize. When the plane landed, I was beyond relieved but proud of myself. I knew that flight was going to push my fear/anxiety but I had to face it. As we arrived at our beachside hotel, and the saw the beaches, the water, views, I thought to myself, “I would have never got to see this if I had let my fear win.”
For my flight home, I am already downloading a new audio-book, got my meds for a migraine (which normally occurs due the stress) and I am going to rock that flight home. Plus, it is an hour shorter returning. YAH!!!
Keep up the good fight for those who have anxiety and don’t let anyone tell you that your anxiety doesn’t count or matter. Find ways to cope and manage. You have to face life, face your fears and make it thought. You will come out stronger and better. My flight home is still going to push me and I know that with each bounce of turbulence, my heart will race, I will start to sweat, etc. but I am ready to talk myself off that cliff. I can do this and so can you.