Thursday, October 22, 2009


I have aviophobia. I am extremely afraid of much so that I have talked my way out of flying on a couple of instances and if I do end up having to fly, I am physically sick for weeks before the flight.

For quite some time, Aaron and I had been talking about taking a trip back to Disney World, just the two of us, to celebrate our anniversary. (Grace of the future...I am sorry we didn't tell you where we were going, but you would have flipped your shizzy. Plus I'm sure you had a blast with Grandma and Grandpa anyway.) We decided that since MPS kids have off the last Thursday and Friday of October for Teacher's Convention, that would be a good time for us to take our trip--we wouldn't have to yank Grace out of school at all. So, we booked our flight and our hotel, and I made an effort to forget about the whole thing for a while.

A couple of weeks ago, though, the panic started to set in. I started checking the "fear of flying" forums online. I spent an unwarranted amount of time researching safety stats for the aircraft we will be flying in. I began having thoughts of impending doom. I started to feel convinced that I would never have the chance to see my children grow up. My palms would sweat when I would even think of getting on a plane. I even thought about trying to convince Aaron that we should extend our trip by a couple of days so we could drive or take the train (I never broached the subject with him, though, because I don't think it would have been well-received.)

Yeah. This is a problem for me.

I am generally a fearful person. I remember as a child I would lay still in my bed to listen for sounds of intruders in the middle of the night. I would creep around the kitchen at night while my parents watched television in the living room, looking for signs that someone was trying to break into our house. I had to go home from Girl Scout camp several days early because I was terrified of the whole thing. And as an adult, I'm still fearful of many things. I have a hard time getting on the El in Chicago because I know there's a chance that the train will go underground, and that terrifies me. When someone I love gets sick, I lose sleep worrying and thinking that they might die. I think the same thing when I get sick. And on days like today when Grace goes on a school field trip, I worry that she will be in a bus accident or that she will get separated from her group and will be lost.

I don't like feeling like this, and I really wish I didn't.

For this upcoming trip, I decided that I would bite the bullet and ask for pharmaceutical help. I went to the doctor on Monday and he prescribed some Ativan (he considered Xanax first but then decided that Xanax wears off too that man). Funny thing...once I had those pills in my hand, my fear of flying started to fade ever so slightly...could I be afraid of the fear I know I will feel?

I did a trial run with the Ativan last evening, just to make sure it would work out ok for our flight next week, and it did its job. Mostly I just felt mellow, my limbs felt a little heavier, and I was a little tired. I tried to make myself afraid by thinking about flying, and I couldn't force myself to get too worked up about it. We'll see what happens when I'm actually confronted with the thing I fear...


Carrie said...

Thanks for sharing this intimate and insightful post. I think it's really interesting, your inability to feel the same fear while on Ativan. Makes me wonder if it only works for irrational fears. You know how teenagers (well maybe not YOU at that age) do crazy dangerous things because they don't seem to grasp that they could die? Does Ativan lead people to do more reckless things? I wonder.

At any rate, I'm glad to hear it helps you. Have a great trip.