Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fear of Flying

I am flying 2000 miles tomorrow with my partner and my children to visit my family for 10 days.
These days every time I fly it is a reminder how far I've come with my disease. I had a horrible fear of flying for many years. I approached each flight as if it were destined to crash. Every landing felt like I had just escaped death. Do all OCD'ers have a fear of flying?

Five months after my breakdown in 2002 I took a trip to Las Vegas to visit my sister. I was on zyprexa and other meds at the time. It was the best I'd ever been. I did have to make a conscious decision to let go of the fear. The old habit was there. The one that said that worrying would keep the plane in flight. It felt risky and dangerous to stop being afraid. Mischievous and reckless to just fly and enjoy it. But, in my commitment to recovery, I surrendered and dared the plane to crash.

I've flown many times since then. Each success feeds the next. I am always a bit nervous. I do tip my hat to God. I acknowledge that I have no business hanging around in the clouds. And then I just do it, come what may. Writing this is making me nervous, as if by typing the words I am tempting fate. Traveling is full of unknowns and lack of control. Sometimes, living is tough, even when it is good.


  1. I remember many childhood vacations where I would spend the week anticipating our flight in prayer, trying to cleanse myself sufficiently because "this flight could mean my death, and I have to be ready to meet God." And each time the plane would land without incident I would breathe a huge sigh of relief.
    Then - 9/11 happened. You'd think that would have made things worse, but surprisingly it made things better.

  2. It's funny, because I'm not that afraid of flying in the traditional sense. I am, however, afraid of airplane and airport bathrooms, as well as hotel rooms. But it's a whole lot more socially acceptable to be afraid of your plane crashing than to be afraid of a hotel room, so I started telling people I'm afraid to fly in order to avoid trips. I've been saying it so long, I'm starting to believe it. It's probably time for me to get on a plane!

  3. I have always been thankful that flying is one thing that I don't really fear! I actually really enjoy it most of the time. Nevertheless, I can remember many years (from the time I was in elementary school all the way up to college) during which I always performed rituals before and after flights because I just felt "off" if I didn't. I would pray before the plane took off and again after the plane landed. Perhaps that's not that unusual, but the way in which I did it and the need to do it over and over again until it seemed "just right" was probably where it crossed over from being slightly superstitious to very OCD! It drove me crazy!

    Sometimes the flight was well underway before I could finally get the mentual ritual "right" and stop, and sometimes my performance of the post-flight mental compulsion would be stopped and started off and on over a period of hours or even days until I could get it right! My mind would just start the prayer over, and I would be hooked yet again, until I could get it "just right" and commit to not repeating it yet again.

  4. OMG, I'm right there with ya! I am impressed that you are going to fly that far. My partner and I flew to Vegas last year, and I almost came unglued. I hate flying sooo much. We have postponed all future far trips for awhile, it upset me so much. I am linking your blog to mine! Can't wait to read your other posts!