2013 New Year’s Resolution – Get over my fear of flying

I’ll let you in on a little secret.. I have a terrible fear of flying.  Yes, I know you’re more likely to be killed on the way to the airport.  It’s irrational, I get it.  The strange thing is I never used to be so afraid.

Years ago, I flew weekly for work and never had a problem.  When I moved out to Tokyo from London, I was fine flying long-haul regularly and then the fear set in…  Anxiety kicks in a day before the flight, sweaty palms, furiously gripping the hand of the stranger next to you at every bump and no relief till feet are on terra firma.

I’ve decided my 2013 Near Year’s Resolution is to Get Over It.  

First to pinpoint exactly what I’m afraid of:

  • The plane crashing.  I used to think it was just airlines I would never dream of flying in far flung places with outdated aircraft and sanctions on spare parts.  Then Air France Flight 447 crashed somewhere in the Pacific.
  • Terrorist attacks.  If I see a passenger taking too long in the toilet, I get nervy.** At this juncture, I would like to smugly point out I’m not remotely afraid of the whole claustrophobia/confined space thing

How have I tried to get over my fear to date?

  • Educate myself.  Yes, I know that noise is the wheels retracting.  Turbulence is just like driving a car on a bumpy road and isn’t going to bring the plane down.  That still won’t stop me eyeballing the air stewardess to check they’re remaining calm and everything’s going to be ok.  In fact, my years of researching flying has now turned me into a huge aviation geek (no joke).  However, it has not helped my fear, instead provided me with an encyclopaedic knowledge of plane crashes.
  • Self medicate.  Alcohol and anti-anxiety drugs being my cocktail of choice.  I once flew with Air China from Tokyo to Beijing. About 10 minutes into the flight, we dropped quite dramatically and everyone screamed.  From that point on I proceeded to get rip roaringly drunk (it was 10am).  I now rotate between Xanax and Valium and they really do help to take the edge off.  However, if I’m flying with the kids, I need to be on the ball so long-haul it’s just a couple of glasses of wine.  If I’m flying alone long-haul, sleeping pills rock.  If I had my way, I’d fly with an anaesthetist who would put me to sleep before every flight.

What haven’t I tried.. yet…

  • Fear of Flying Courses.  One of my friends took the Virgin Flying Without Fear course in the UK.  The course, which includes a real flight at the end of it, did help her a little but mainly it made her realise there are people a lot worse off i.e. have such a crippling fear of flying that they will not even get on a plane
  • Hypnotherapy.  I was really keen to give this one a shot and found this HK based site http://www.mindmatters.hk.  However, when canvassing friends for their opinion on hypnotherapy, the only testimonial I received was ‘Tried it, failed, back to diazapam’.
  • Self help workshops e.g. SOAR, run by an ex airline captain, which provides DVDs and 1 on 1 telephone counselling http://www.fearofflying.com

In conclusion, my priority is to do everything in my power to not pass on this fear to my children.  Whether it’s trying hypnotherapy or sending myself on a course, 2013 is the year I’m going to fly the dodgiest airline I can find and enjoy every minute of it!

For further reading, check it this article from Smart Travel Asia on how to beat the fear:  http://www.smarttravelasia.com/FearOfFlying.htm

1 comment

  1. Nick Othen

    Great post, please don’t feel alone with this I see many clients myself with the same phobia.

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