My fear of flights
If you’ve watched a video about my recover story (watch it here), you know that my journey to recovery pretty much started after an 18 hour long flight. I had two panic attacks and high anxiety throughout this flight. But it was a pivotal point that sparked the “aha” moment in me and got me motivated to start facing my panic attacks on a daily basis.
However, back then it was a frightening experience and one that I certainly wasn’t looking forward to. Therefore, I want to explain how I ended up having two panic attacks and how to best deal with panic attacks on the flight.
The buildup to my panic attacks started the moment I booked the flight. A mere thought of that flight was enough to make me feel panic attacks symptoms (lightheartedness, derealization, racing heart etc.). I had no idea how panic attacks work back then, so I just kept obsessing with them. My best escapes were distraction, suppression and avoidance, which just happen to be the best allies of anxiety disorder.
On the day of flight, my symptoms went absolutely out of control. But the decision was already made and there I was, miles away from safety, desperately and unsuccessfully trying to control my panic.
Here is what I did wrong - I booked the flight a month in advance but every single day became a battle with my symptoms and thoughts. In other words, everything about this flight was associated with fear of panic attacks.
What advice would I give to my past self?
Step 1: Do medical examIt’s important to have your facts right. Once you do a medical exam and there is nothing physically wrong with you (which is almost always the case), you are off to a good start. Book that flight right away.
Step 2: Start processing your fearTwo words: Mind Vomit. Mind Vomit is a practice from my workbook (get it here). You already have all the catastrophic scenarios in your head. Now, you just need to express them in your imagination to disempower them.
Step 3: Invite panic attacks
The moment you get on the plane or even before the flight, every time you feel panic attack approaching, never resist it. Always invite it, or if you want, you can command it to come and do its worst. But keep in mind that you have to really want it to come. If you still feel doubt and fear, then it will most likely show up. Whereas, when you genuinely invite it, chances of having a panic attack go down substantially. This is something that comes with practice. But the moment you become good at it, panic attacks cannot stop you.
Repeat this every single day: "I had a number of panic attacks and none of them harmed me. My body is completely healthy and it can handle any amount of stress. I’m on my path to recovery and won’t allow anxiety to steal my life and freedom from me."
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