Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What are you afraid of?

I just got done watching one of my favorite shows, Dr. Oz, and today he was talking about phobias.  Growing up I handled snakes, wouldn't squeel at mice or cockroaches, and actually liked to play with tarantuals. 

Never was I scared of heights or flying, as I would often fly with my aunt, a pilot, in various small aircraft.  She even gave me lessons once, and I loved it!

All of that changed a couple of years ago when Matt and I were flying back from the Bahamas.  We visited a small island, Crooked Island, with my aunt and her boyfriend.  They were both experienced pilots, so even in a four seater plane, I wasn't scared.

But flying back from Crooked Island, we ran into some pretty serious weather.  Though it was noon, the sky was black, and there was lightning striking all over the place.  That being said, you can imagine how rough the flight was. 

I lost it.  The turbulence was pretty severe, and the radar was showing that we were in the middle of it.  There were noises going off that were pretty alarming, though I have no idea what they meant.  They couldn't have been saying "we're all good", for all I know.

My aunt was not flying this time.  I think if she were in the pilot's seat I would have been more at ease, because I'd flown with her before and she makes me feel safe.  She very calmly asked us to locate the CB radio and pointed to the life raft, just in case.  I don't think she ever thought something was going to really happen, but I was distraught, to say the least.

In the back seat I was bawling my eyes out, snot running down my face, and my nails clenched into Matt's thighs.  Matthew was surprisingly calm, and tried to help me gain composure.  That did not happen.  I was a wreck until we landed in Miami, and even after then, I was pretty shaken up.

I've always been weary of explaining this to my aunt, because she did nothing to cause this, and I don't want her to think I'm a sissy.  After all, she is a pilot, it's what she does.  She's one of my biggest role models, and you never want to disappoint your role model.

Since then I've experienced extreme anxiety when flying.  I've tried meditating, attempting to distract myself, but nothing can bring me back to sanity when turbulence strikes.

In fact, I saw a doctor in anticipation for the big flight to Germany, and was even prescribed a medicinal aid.  That didn't even work.  The medicine knocked me out, but I would inevitably jolt awake at the slightest shake, grab Matt, and burst into tears.

I'm pretty embarrassed by my reaction to flying, but I've vowed to never allow it to keep me from traveling.

Not everyone has a phobia, but there are many who do.  For some it's debilitating.  Some avoid situations and places to insure their safety.  And doctors have determined that while genetics and vicarious fear have something to do with phobias, it is often brought on by a traumatic experience.

So I've decided to start researching aviophobia, and try to find ways I can work through my fear.  Because until I do, it will own me.  And I refuse to have fear hold me back.

No comments: