I got on a plane for the first time when I was only a few months old. From then onwards flying was a regular thing for me. I thought flying was cool; the early rises to get to the airport on time, the airport itself with all it’s shops and excitement. I loved seeing the world from up above, and when we hit turbulence it would be exhilarating for me; it was just like a roller coaster.
I took my first flight alone when I was 16 and it was fine; I was so used to it at this point that nothing fazed me. I’m 22 now and have taken many flights alone since then, as well as plenty with my family and friends. However, last year, something changed. I became petrified of flying, for no particular reason.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I struggle with anxiety. It impacts many aspects of my life, but flying was never one of them. Not until last year, when it seems like something snapped in my head. All of a sudden the mere thought of flying induced panic attacks, and I found myself contemplating on many occasions not taking any flight ever again.
I don’t know where this fear came from so suddenly, and it’s so frustrating. It just crept up on me. It feels like my anxiety is invading yet another part of my being. I need to fly to see my family, to pursue my travel dreams, to explore the countless cultures still on my bucket list. Flying used to offer me a sense of freedom, something that has now been replaced with fear.
Days before I now have to get on a flight, my mind is plagued with “worst case scenarios”. I vividly imagine all kinds of scenarios that end up with me dying on that plane. I don’t want to think about these things, but I feel powerless to stop them. The day itself I am jittery, my stomach is all over the place and my face breaks out from stress. My palms sweat as I step on the air plane, and now when we hit turbulence, I don’t find it fun; I instead shake with fear. After every flight I leave sweaty and shaky, mentally exhausted and at the same time happy to still be alive.
I am proud to say that I have not let my flight anxiety stop me from getting on a plane; as powerful as this fear is, I have beaten it until now. I have come close to “missing” my flight or taking a alternative, much more expensive and complicated, mode of transport; but I HAVEN’T. If you take anything away from this post, let it be that you can overcome this. As impossible as it might seem, I promise you that you are mentally strong enough.
I wanted to write this post mainly for myself. By writing the words down and publishing my feelings, it makes it all very real. It takes the situation out of my head, and instead makes it public. I forces me to realise that this is my reality, and that I need to do something about it. I hope to write a separate post soon on how I try to alleviate my flight anxiety before and during the flight.
If you feel the same as me in any way, know that you’re not alone. If you ever want to talk, I’m here. I hope we can remain strong together.