As someone who experiences both a sick stomach and sweaty palms inside an airport and especially on a plane, I need a lot of courage to travel as much as I do.
I’m not alone. Many travelers have a fear of flying and cope with their anxiety in many different ways. For the most part, people respect me for tackling long-haul flights in spite of my phobia, and I’m forever grateful for their support. It means the world to me.
There’s nothing quite like hearing “YES, you are awesome to take these trips! Don’t let fear stop you!” from a friend, family member, co-worker, or reader. Seriously, you guys are fantastic.
However, from time to time, I hear ignorant verbal diarrhea that makes me wanna bang my head against the nearest wall.
Some of the comments are meant to be reassuring. Some are just plain mean.
Pull up a chair, grab some chocolate, and pour a cup of coffee! Here are things fearful flyers hate hearing, myself included among them!
1. “It’s all in your head.”
It really isn’t. I get the odds of a plane crash or terrorist attack are nearly non-existent – except for those horrible fantasies that strike at the worst possible moments. Like on a NJ transit train bound for Newark Liberty International Airport.
However, the horrible knots in my stomach, my sweating palms, my “out of body” sensation, etc. doesn’t only exist in my head. Those symptoms are real. My fear is real.
So, nope, it’s not all in my head.
2. “Have you thought about going on medication?”
I’m on medication to fly. Full disclosure.
I don’t want to take my pills all the time, but my prescription makes me feel awesome (or at least normal) boarding a flight, so I suck it up and deal with the stigma. For the moment, medication seems to be the right choice for me.
But it’s not the right choice for every single fearful flyer. Not every case is as simple as “take a pill and get over it.” Some people have an aversion to medicine. Some people have addictive personalities or addiction in their families, and like it or not, benzos are easy to get hooked on. Plus, while medicine cures the symptoms of anxiety, it doesn’t cure the root cause.
3. “Stop traveling if you’re so scared.”
Okay, more detailed response.
I’m of the belief that you shouldn’t give anxiety permission to control your life and keep you locked at home. I’m actually in the process of writing a post with more of my opinions on this same topic, so stay tuned and get your popcorn ready.
4. “Have you heard about xyz plane crash?”
… why would you mention plane crashes when you know take off gives me heart palpitations?! WHY?!
Don’t mention plane crashes. Please.
I’ve already researched all of them, and I don’t need more images of wings floating in water. Thanks.
5. “Flying is the safest way to travel! Haven’t you seen the statistics?”
Okay, I get you’re trying to use logic to tackle my fears. I do appreciate it, but after hearing this comment a million times, I can’t help but feel aggravated because it assumes I’ve done no research whatsoever. If flight anxiety was cured reading statistics, I wouldn’t be writing this post at all. Heck, a fear of flying wouldn’t exist.
Of course I’ve read the statistics. Logically, I know I’m more likely to get run over by an erratic NJ driver on Route 295.
But flying fears aren’t logical. So statistics? They don’t help.
6. “You’re going to be just fine. Maybe try and sleep.”
You’re not allowed to say this to me unless you’re my mom. Sorry.
I know I’m being a bit harsh here and that you mean well and want to reassure me, but depending on tone of voice, this advice can sound very condescending.
It’s damn near impossible for me to sleep on airplanes. Have you FLOWN in economy lately? Have you seen the size of those seats? If I had enough dough to spare for first/business class, then I’m sure I could fall asleep, but sleeping is much easier to do lying down than squished in a small barely reclining seat, surrounded by three other people.
Are you afraid of flying? What things do you hate hearing? If you’re a confident flyer (jealous!), what advice would you offer? As always, thanks for reading and following Blond Wayfarer!