I recently shared a photo on Instagram of a Qatar airways plane. I took this photo during our layover in Doha on our way to Thailand. These days I’m receiving a lot of comments on Instagram but this one really stood out.
By the number of trips I’ve documented on this blog and the amazing plans I’ve got for 2017 you’d never for a second believe I was someone who was once scared of flying.
Truth is I’m still a little jittery, but I’m able to sit through flights for over twenty hours without crying constantly. If you’re scared of flying you’ll get me!
So how did I go from a teenager who sat crushing hands crying on the shortest of flights to a wondering explorer? First let’s talk about why I believe I was scared of flying in the first place.
How I Developed A Fear Of Flying
Whilst I’ll never be one-hundred percent sure what created my fear of flying. I do have two good ideas as to why;
Firstly, my dads obsession with watching Airline Investigation. A TV show on National Geographic (or something similar) showing what made historic flights crash. These shows came with highly realistic reconstructions. My parents loved going on holiday. As children my brother and I were spoiled with anything up to six holidays a year. Whilst these shows certainly didn’t put my dad off, they did have a clear affect on me.
The truth is when a plane crash does happen it’s covered in great detail by worldwide media. It’s rather hard to avoid it. Yet we don’t get much information on the tens of thousands of flights that go to plan every single day. It’s simple for your brain to trick you and make you think that this is happening a lot more often than it actually is, even for all the statistics you know to be true.
The second reason is a more personal one. I’m someone who likes a certain amount of control. Not in a weird sense but I prefer to be the driver of a car. I find it much easier to hold myself accountable than other people. So imagine my fear when I’ve got to pass the trust of not just my life but the life of others, my friends and family to a complete stranger. Whilst this isn’t me saying I’d do a better job than a pilot (I most definitely wouldn’t) it’s a very strange feeling.
How I Tried To Overcome My Fear Of Flying
When I was 15 I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. A decade later and it’s an experience that completely transformed my life. That’s because for the amazing holiday’s my parents offered my brother and I as children they were always inside of Europe. This however was an opportunity with school to present in the Youth Science and Technology conference in China. Complete with a 17 night stay in the country.
This would be my longest flight and my first with school friends. How was I ever going to let them see my crying for a full seventeen hours on a plane. Simple I wasn’t.
I started researching different ways I could possibly stop my fear. I found what seemed to be the quickest and easiest solution – Diazepam. Also known as Valium. Available from my doctor this acts as a sedative medication to decrease anxiety. It also acts as a benzodiazepine medication to balance brain chemicals.
I took the tablet as normal, but it didn’t work. If anything it made me just as scared and feel super weird and sick, so onto the next method.
I read somewhere that I should try and educate myself on flying. The whole experience etc as some sort of self-help therapy. So there I was, ten weeks out and I was reading advanced plane mechanics. This time I wasn’t able to test whether it worked by flying somewhere. I already knew. I still had that same nightmare, that same feeling in the gut of my stomach.
Then, a friend of my mums recommended a book. After all this they seriously thought a book was going to help my fear of flying. Really?
We’ve all been at a point in our lives where we’ve nothing to loose. In this case I really didn’t so I went ahead and purchased the book. In 2008 it looked like this;
However, due to the fantastic success of the book it was updated and republished in 2011…
I stayed up every night for the next week reading this book. Noting things down, taking it in. I gave it my all. This simply HAD to work… and it did.
When I packed my bag the night before flying to China I packed the book too. Just in case. I talked myself through every noise, every movement, every bump with the information Keith had passed to me through this book.
I actually began to enjoy flying. During the second leg from Dubai to Shanghai I was able to watch movies. I was actually able to do something other than constantly stare out of the window or down the isles ensuring we’re not going to plummet at any moment.
If you have a fear of flying I understand how it can ruin your life. Especially with those who don’t quite understand how you feel. Which is why I encourage you to find what works for you, it may be this book, it maybe the valium. Regardless, there’s still more chance you’ll die on your way to the airport than through a plane crash. Which is good news… er… I guess?