I travel quite a lot for a normal person, however, I poop myself out of fear when I get close to the moment of flying! My tummy hurts, my heart beats in my throat, I don’t want anyone to ask me when I leave, what time I get to the airport and other things that get the stress level sky-high.
A few years ago, I wouldn’t even tell my family when I used to leave for some place. After getting to the destination, I used to call mom and tell her that I was in London, I had just landed in Amsterdam or in Paris… Because that was the moment I could really relax.
I have no idea where this fear of flight comes from, as it appeared at a certain moment, I haven’t had it from the very beginning. I had my first flight when I was 7 and then, after the Revolution, when I started travelling… no fear whatsoever. And no major events during any of the flights.
After thinking this thoroughly, I came to the conclusion it all started after the plane crush in Balotesti, in 1995. That was a tragedy that impressed me. I started taking in all the plane related tragedies from the news.
Then there was the flight to Havana, with my friends, with hours of turbulences, during which I wanted to say a lot of times: “Please pull over, I want to get off the plane!”
And then there was a misses landing on the Istanbul airport.
And some more news about plane accidents L.
PANIC ON THE PLANE…
On the day of the flight, I start thinking… If it is cloudy, why are the clouds so thick. If it is windy, damn, the wind is too strong… If it snows, my God, the wings will freeze. If it rains, the pilots won’t see properly…
I am so very stressed, that I almost have a special pass at the Otopeni airport toilets J.
If the plane is a Boeing, why isn’t it an Airbus, as I have heard bad things about the first… If it is an Airbus, why isn’t it a Boeing, because these are safer…
Right before talking off, I send messages to my friends, to know that there is someone there who has a good thought for me, and then… nobody can talk to me, because I concentrate. I am stiff until the belt sign is off and I make the cross sign tens of times (not always in plain sight…) All right, stop already, woman, you are stressing me, I think God must be saying J.
Then all the scenarios determined by any maneuver and especially by any turbulence area follow: what’s that noise? Why does he run the engines like that? Why does he move those things on the wings? Why did he hit the break? Why is he going down whey we are taking off? What was that noise in front? Why is it so cold in the plane? Lady, why didn’t you switch off the phone? My God, why is the stewardess running?? Did the wheels come out for landing??? Why is he turning like that?!? Why are we turning around? By the way he descents, it is clear the pilot is at his first flight. Just my luck to fly this plane today!
… and a lot of other scenarios connected to 9/11, by accidents in the entire world or by the stupid pilot who ran a plane into a mountain on purpose! Brrr…
I try to read. Are you kidding me? After 15 minutes I realize I am reading the same line. Ok, let me watch a movie then. I stop all of a sudden and I concentrate of the turbulences we are passing through. I delete photos from the phone. I take out the laptop to look at a show I am working on. And then suddenly I close everything after the first movements that seem suspect to me… I take out a piece of paper and I start calculating… A lot. To keep my mind busy.
My God, the captain is a woman?? This is what I find out on her first intervention. I hope that in the air the pejorative “a woman driving” does not apply…
I notice any sound, I feel each and every change of speed, I think that, if I concentrate just a bit more, I will be able to hear the sound of the wings of the birds outside…
It has been a long time since I have sat on the window seat. I always take the aisle seat, because I need to have permanent eye contact with the cabin crew. Always. At each noise or maneuver, I look at the flight attendant in front. Ok, she is calm and she sees to her activities there. I am relieved. Then I look at the ones in the back. I become nervous if they are not in my sight. I have no idea if they realize this, but the way they look at people can really temper the tension of a passenger.
Before, I used to drink Cola during the flight. Now I only drink still water. Because of the fear, any sparkling drink starts a war in my stomach and I really don’t want to make the plane’s toilet my own place of pilgrimage…
I talk to the pilots. No, not in the cockpit, but in my own mind J. “Come on, boys! Do your best!” – I tell them during landing and I am sure that they will take us safely to the ground…
I have moments of calm too, when the flight isn’t bumpy at all. I use those moments to read or, even more, to stand up and walk about the plane like a king J. This is the clear sign that I am all right.
IN BUSINESS CLASS
AS IF I WERE RICH…
I have flown in all sorts of planes, apart from the “classic” ones: in a small propellers plane, over Greenland I crossed oceans in huge planes, with “a hump”, as I call them; and twice, I even travelled in private, luxurious planes.
I have travelled in Business Class, the first time out of pure luck (an unexpected upgrade!), then twice out of an acute need for comfort, as I had terrible pain in a leg and in the back. I even saw what the First Cabin means, because, as a flight attendant from Qatar Airways told me, the company replaced on the flights to certain destinations the Business cabin with the First cabin. May God give you long lives, I say! I fell as if I have just bought an one bedroom apartment…
I’d like to travel only Business class, why lie?… But, God damn it, I’d have to have three very well paid jobs or a multi-millionaire for a lover! (I’d rather have the second… ha-ha)
You have to know that I behave in the Business cabin. I don’t steal the cutlery, I don’t leave with the pajamas they gave me and I don’t order everything on the menu. I am a “lady” J. I even left there the beautiful and useful beauty case from Qatar (because I had no idea it was ok to take it).
HOW TO GET OVER THE FEAR OF FLYING?
All right, let’s come down to earth again, even if we are flying at 11-12,000 meters.
Let us take it step by step… to see what the solutions for this would be, having in view that I cannot sleep in any means of transportation, therefore I cannot sleep in the plane:
“Mladin, drink something before flying and gone is your fear!” Well, I don’t usually drink. What if I start singing or dancing among the passengers? “Romania’s got talent” would be nothing…
Let us go to drugs. Some tell me to take a sedative, others recommend sleeping pills, some say Xanax or better some plants pills. Let me tell you something ugly. I tried once to take half a Dormicum (a sleeping pill) on a transatlantic flight, listening to someone’s advice. NEVER EVER TAKE ANYTHING LIKE THAT! During the flight, I looked at the shopping catalogue and I saw some tweezers with a lantern. It seemed something different, a good gift for a friend. I thought I would buy it later. I have been sleeping on and off during that flight, with the usual discomfort because of the seat. At a certain moment, I stood up and when I saw the flight attendant passing by, I told him I wanted to buy something. He told me that would be impossible since we were getting ready for landing. Well, whatever, next time…
In the London airport, before the second flight, the one to take me home, I went to the bathroom to wash a bit and change my T-shirt… And believe it or not, I found in my backpack the tweezers with a lantern! WTF, I think. Did I steal those? Next to it, I see the receipt, the clear proof that I had bought the produce, and not just that, but I even paid with a card! So I introduced the pin and all that!
How, my man??? I don’t remember a thing! Horrible!
And since then I decided no more pills. Every now and then I take a plants sedative, if I feel my heart goes crazy before a flight.
One of my ways of fighting fear are the magazines with pictures. The more pictures, the better… I took, my friends, all the magazines for women with clothes pictures, all the home and decorations magazines, all the travel magazines with pictures of beautiful places. I finger nervously through them. It does not matter what it is written there. I only need pictures… However, after the first turbulences, I realize that even if I have in front of me pictures of naked men, I don’t really see them J.
This is it, I have the solution! Breathing exercises – as a friend told me. He explained to me in an SMS how to breathe and, during the first turbulences, I do it. I count, I breathe, I count, I breathe… It’s as if I am giving birth or something!
I am told that hypnosis is the solution to get rid of the fear of flying. Are you sure? God knows what stupid things I’ll say and, maybe I get rid of the fear of flying, but then again I might end up in some scandal show…
Talking to the flight personnel has always been a solution for me. That kind of conversation: “Is this serious?”, “No, this is normal.”, “Will it be ok?”, “Yes, it will.” – that is all I need… So that I talk to the flight attendants and when I get the opportunity, even with the pilots.
FEAR OF FLYING WORKSHOP
A colleague tells me about something very cool: The Romanian Air Club organizes a one of a kind seminar about the fear of flying. Wow! And it is free of charge… I have no idea who and about what is going to speak there, but I am going, hoping this will work better than a sedative.
The room is full of fearful people. Wait, they say that this has a name: “aviophobia”.
It is an interesting seminar, with people passionate about aviation, who try to convince us not to die of fear when we fly.
I realize I am not the only one who analyzes every sound while flying, I am not the only one to try to catch the calm looks of the flight attendants, I am not the only one who is a control freak – yes, they say that those are the most panicked up in the air, because there they don’t control things. We have to understand that there, at 10,000 meters, in the passenger seat, we don’t control things J.
Tens of questions were asked, a sign that each and every one of us fuels his or her negative feelings… Are the fluffy clouds dangerous? Is it bad if people don’t switch off the phones during take-off and landing? Can air gaps lead to disasters? Are we fucked if a thunder hits us? Are we it if an engine dies? And so many other questions for which, of course, we all wanted a calming answer and a pat on the head. We found out about the three Rs, as a solution against panic:
React – distract your attention by any means (remember the magazines with lots of photos…)
Regulate the breathing – 4-4 (I tested and I couldn’t swallow it from the very first turbulences…)
Relax your muscles. I’d like to, but the brains opposes! I had some flights with turbulences after which I had muscular fever!
I found out that there is a book about the courage to fly. Where??? I want a dozen!J
Anyway, the seminar was over, we ate sweets and we left with a Courage Brevet. Is it cool or what? I feel like a child who had just gave blood for tests and who has a band aid with cartoon characters, because he was a good and courageous kid.
…and I left with a lot of positive information, to have when I need to beat the negative ideas in my head…
A few days after the seminar, I flew to London. It was one of the ugliest flights I had! I immediately forgot all the calming information I had. So, here I go again…