This might seem like an unusual list to share at a point when people are taking fewer flights than ever, but what’s most interesting about this piece from Hannah Harris  is it picks up on a pivotal moment of when a rumbling fear escalates into a phobia and, importantly, how to do something about it.

  • When I told people I had a phobia of flying they generally laugh, tell me there is nothing to worry about and real off facts about how safe it is and I am safer in the air than on the roads.

  • I knew all of this already. It doesn’t help. People with Phobias know their thoughts are irrational they just can’t stop them.

  • However, my phobia of flying has always been seen by other as a fear and there is a difference:

  • fear is an emotional response to a real or perceived threat.

  • phobia is similar to a fear with one key difference: the anxiety they experience is so strong that it interferes with their quality of life and/or their ability to function – in my case, I stopped flying.

  • Before having children my fear and me still reached places like Thailand, India and Australia. Once I had my first baby, I simply could not fly any more. Something switched.

  • I have been told it is quite a common trigger to turn a fear to phobia.

  • You would be impressed by the places I have got to via train and ferry.

  • Having a phobia is very lonely. People can try but they don’t/can’t really understand it. And to those that are trying to support you, I suspect it is very frustrating.

  • It also makes you feel ridiculous. That you cannot manage to do something that is seems like everyone else can without a second thought.

  • My phobia has definitely impacted my marriage at times. I have a husband who is not even remotely frightened of flying and wants to travel. He especially did not appreciate the 4 hour train journey and then hour ferry crossing we made, and returned via, to attend a friends wedding in Dublin.

  • When I type things like that I can see how gripped I have been by this phobia and the lengths I have gone to just to avoid getting on an plane and it feels shocking.

  • I now have three children and two years ago I started to feel like I wanted to try and address my phobia. Not for me, I could happily not fly for the rest of my life. BUT, I have these kids and I want them to see the world and not inherit this part of me. I can’t say this worry of passing it on was stronger than my phobia but it was a starting point.

  • I would do anything for my children, anything. But having to get on a plane still felt like too much. As a parent that is a really hard thing to admit. But I know that was because of the phobia and that I would need help to address it.

  • Even thinking about getting help to address it at the time felt scary because the end result could mean I would have to fly and I had been successfully avoiding that for 13+ years.

  • We booked a flight to Paris as a family. In the build up to the flight there is not a book or audio book I did not read. There is nothing I cannot tell you about the safety of planes and how they work and keep you in the air.

  • I saw a hypnotist for a few sessions. I didn’t like it but I kept going because I knew we had a flight booked.

  • About three weeks before we were due to fly I began to panic. Not sleep, not eat. I cried. A lot. My kids wanted to know what was wrong. I said was unwell.

  • A week before the flight I began looking up trains to Paris. My husband was so disappointed. He didn’t want me to book one. I really didn’t want to let him or the kids down but I couldn’t do it.

  • On the day of the flight, my husband took our 2 older kids on the flight and I meet them in Paris a few hours later with our then toddler having taken the train. I was broken by how I had let everyone down. Yet so relieved that I had not had to get in the air.

  •  My rational brain was saying that if I can let me kids fly then it is safe. Of course it is safe. And I wanted them to experience flying and not develop my phobia. I had to find a way to deal with this. I will always be sad I missed my kids first flight. I hadn’t missed their first anything until that point.

  • I booked onto a ‘fear of flying’ course at Heathrow. I told them they need to think about renaming it. They told me people with fear and phobias both attend.

  • My phobia has cost us a fortune. In travel via the long way when flights would be shorter and cheaper. In books and hypnotists and then the course. I don’t like to think about it really but it’s part of the reality we have lived with.

  • I say ‘we’ have lived with as this has impacted my family for years. My husband is actually a saint.

  • I cried in the queue to register for the course. People were kind, I met people that understood. It was a relief for the first time in my life to be talking to people who really knew what I was going through. It made me cry more as for the first time I did not feel alone or like I was the only one struggling.

  • I don’t know how much I took in during they day because I was preoccupied by the fact that at the end of the day they take you on a 45 minute flight.

  • I was the last person to get on the plane. I cried and shook and panicked to a brand new level. A crew-member had to sit next to me. However, I did stay on the plane and took that 45-minute flight. I feel emotional thinking about it even now.

  • There were people I had got to know over the course of the day hugging and high fiving me.

  • This will all sound so trivial to anyone not crippled by a phobia. Drama and hysterics about a 45 minutes flight probably seems so over the top. I refer you to back to my trip to Dublin. This was a game changer.

  •  For me, it was life changing. For my husband and kids it was life changing.

  • I came home and we booked another flight to Paris. And in addition, I booked secret flights to and from Berlin for a birthday surprise for my husband.

  • There was a big gap between the course and the flights we had booked. In the run up to our Paris trip the old familiar signs of my phobia kicked in. I tried booking a train a few hours before we were due to fly but couldn’t get one.

  • When my kids woke up excited our holiday, I knew that I could not look at them and say I was not coming until the next day because that’s when the next train ticket was available. I was going to have to fly.

  • I cried from the moment we left home until the moment we boarded the flight. I am not proud of this. The crew was amazing. Letting them know (not that I could have hidden my distress if I tried) really helped. My younger kids thought I was poorly. My older son knew exactly what was wrong with me.

  • I don’t think he likes flying and I worry it’s because of me. My younger kids loved it. They are all so brave to me. Even thought my older son seemed unsure, he still looked out the window, took photos. I looked ahead unable to speak or move because if I did the plane could crash.

  • Our youngest was so excited shouting ‘when will we blast off mummy’ as she had never flown before. I wanted to be excited for her and throw up in my mouth at the same time.

  • I did fly to Paris. It wasn’t fun but I did do it. Another milestone.

  • A month later, the night before flying to Berlin, the panic came back. This time we were flying without the kids and I thought that would make it easier. It did not. But again the Crew (and my husband) was amazing and I got there. Coming home, I just kept telling myself the plane was taking me home to my kids and I did it again.

  • So I flew four times in 2019, having not flown at all for over 13 years before. I am exhausted.

  • Am I ‘cured’? I don’t know. My aim was to try to get from phobia back to just fear, I think I am on the right track but it’s not a quick fix.

  • Now I have flown a few times some people think I am ‘over it’ and will just start flying everywhere. I am not ready to do that yet.

  • It’s going to be a slow process I think but at least now I am in a process.

  • I am really proud of myself. My family and friends are proud of me. It’s a nice feeling. I have flown with my kids which I never thought I would be able to do.

  • I have no regrets about not doing that course sooner. I might not have had the same result; I might not have made it on to the plane. I won’t know and I see no point in looking back and trying to guess if things would have worked out differently. If I would have got back in the air sooner.

  • I will fly again. I just need some recovery time. I am drained from the last few months. Again, to anyone who does not suffer in this way, I know it sounds dramatic.

  • Dealing with phobias is so hard and so isolating. I am sure it was meeting people on that course who were like me that was the turning point. It felt safe to really talk about everything to people who knew exactly what I was feeling as they were feeling it too.

  • I will never love flying. I will never even like it. Fear is better than a phobia. I can live with that.

  • It has been two years since my journey to get back in the air began. I did it for my kids and husband. It seems I can do anything for my kids, this one has just taken a bit of time but I am getting there.


Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply