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Haven't flown for over 20 year (agoraphobic) advice please

(26 Posts)
nothingcomestonothing Wed 21-Mar-18 15:15:23

Hi all,

I am agoraphobic, and consequently haven't flown since I think 1997! However, my children have never flown or been abroad so I need to get my big girl pants on and do it. We will be going to Menorca in October half term, to Mahon from either Luton or Stansted.

My anxiety/panic is all around being trapped and unable to escape, and the whole thing seems pretty overwhelming just now from the drive to the airport, to the getting from the parking to the airport, to the queuing in the airport, to the hours of waiting at the airport, to boarding, to being trapped in my seat during takeoff, to being trapped in the plane for a couple of hours, to being at Mahon airport for ages at the other end, and then repeat in reverse at the end of the week!!!! I'm actually feeling anxious just writing this! So please give me any tips/info/reassurance you've got for making this experience doable, anything which helps me feel more in control or like I know what to expect is helpful. I will be travelling with two DC and my parents, so will have some help. Thank you!

Graphista Wed 21-Mar-18 15:20:31

Firstly - I think you are incredibly brave! I am also agoraphobic AND hate flying so I have huge admiration for you.

Are you being supported to prep by mh professionals? Are you on any medication?

I overdo on knowledge as a coping mechanism to break it down but I also focus on when the thing I'm not wanting to do will be over! Could focusing on a lovely holiday when you get there help a little? Distractions? (Music books chatting to DC)

Also (again personal experience and I'm fairly sure you've had same) trying to remind yourself that it's NEVER quite as awful as you think it's going to be?

Good luck

MoreSchoolQuestions Wed 21-Mar-18 15:24:39

I don't have any advice but have the same problem so am watching with interest.

I flew on holiday when I was pregnant in 2002 and that was the last time I was ok with it.

I had to do a very short flight to Jersey for work in 2012 and I got very anxious about it and made myself ill. I then caught a bad stomach bug in Jersey so was genuinely ill on the flight back.

I haven't yet booked a summer holiday (too scared) but would really like to. I'm considering doing a last minute flight (city break type thing) in the Easter holidays to 'practice' flying but whenever I try and book I can't make myself do it.

I have never called myself agoraphobic but my fears are all the same as yours - being trapped. I'm not really worried about plane safety, just the feeling of being trapped and also the possibility of terrorists or even just being stuck near drunk or loud or aggressive people.

Diplomum Wed 21-Mar-18 15:25:33

I have exactly the same but now I manage to fly all the time for work without a twinge. I went on a Virgin Fwar is flying course which was great, and had some online CBT which gave me some useful tools. I have distractions with me - quiz books usually or similar - and make sure I have water and a snack. The air stewards are always really kind if you tell them when you get on that you’re a nervous flyer. I have had quite a few times of long delays in the tarmac etc and it’s always been fine - it’s never as bad as you think it will be. Even if you panic, it’s self-limiting, so it eventually stops anyway. But you’ve got a long while till you fly so use the time to prepare and learn techniques to cope, rather than to worry. It’ll be so worth it for the fabulous holiday!

Diplomum Wed 21-Mar-18 15:27:43 - this was the course I went on

Teacuphiccup Wed 21-Mar-18 15:28:17

I used to hate flying so much that I ruined my honeymoon because I was so anxious about the flight back.
I’m totally fine now. I got diazepam off the dr and that really helped. I don’t even need to take it now and quite enjoy flying now.

Diplomum Wed 21-Mar-18 15:29:44 And this was the online CBT - my GP referred me so it was covered by the NHS

boxthefox Wed 21-Mar-18 15:33:38

Xanax, Valium whatever your poison is. Will sort you out. Doc will prescribe as it is for a one off situation.
Get minimum four tabs. One to take before you leave the house (assuming you are not driving), or on entry to the departure building, one on board.
I know all this because it worked for my sister who has similar issues to you. All the CBT in the world couldn't get her off the ground or even near an airport, but we had to travel to a funeral abroad and she coped really well with the tabs.
You will not become addicted for such short term use. They have their place.
Best of luck.

nothingcomestonothing Wed 21-Mar-18 16:10:40

Wow you lot are awesome! Yes yes to all suggestions so far, I am on sertraline but also have some diazepam stashed so can use that as I'll have my parents to help with DC. I also need to remember to have distractions, plus having a bottle of water with me helps.

I need to try to keep my eyes on the prize - giving my DC something they've wanted for about five years - when the fear comes. I have avoided this situation for so long, it's become so big - I'm not scared of flying as such so I'm not sure if the courses would be for me, but I will look into them, thank you - I have the exact same fear about going on buses and have avoided that for several years too!

NewImprovedNinja Wed 21-Mar-18 17:12:17

Don't take drugs! If you start using strong drugs to help you relax, that's the start of a slippery slope.
Just find a very good hypnotist and after one session, you'll be fine.
My friend is the same as you and my husband will be sorting her out later this week.
Another good friend of mine saw my husband 2 years ago and later told our friendship group that after he helped her with her phobia, she had the best year of her life travelling and visiting friends she hadn't seen for years.
In case you're a tad suspicious, I'm not trying to drum up trade for him via Mumsnet as we don't live in the UK. grin

Teacuphiccup Wed 21-Mar-18 17:14:48

I took drugs for my flying phobia and was totally fine, I can now fly perfectly fine without them. Hypnotherapy didn’t touch the sides for me, and I am really into yoga and hypnotherapy normally. Whatever gets you through I suppose.

Graphista Wed 21-Mar-18 17:25:33

Nothing wrong with using medication for a short term extremely anxiety inducing situation.

Hypnosis doesn't work for everyone and by the time op knows whether it works or not she's stuck!

Drugs more reliable.

A one off or very occasional use does not lead to dependency plus in uk they're very strictly controlled.

Graphista Wed 21-Mar-18 17:26:35

I've used self hypnosis for minor surgeries, dental phobia and during labour so not averse but wouldn't recommend for this.

Teacuphiccup Wed 21-Mar-18 17:33:21

I find just having the drugs in my bag helps me, I fear I’m going to lose control and have a melt down or try and jump out the plane, so knowing I have something to knock me out chills me out tremendously. I haven’t taken one for flying for years now but I like to carry them.

MrsEricBana Wed 21-Mar-18 17:37:22

Poor you, I definitely get it. I had this for 11 years and would feel sick seeing a plane go over, wake up in the night with pounding heart etc. How I got through it was that I got to the point where I felt I was limiting my family and an opportunity to go to France came up where I really wished I could go. I used Bach Rescue remedy drops in the airport (purely psychological prop for me) and i walked onto that plane like I was walking into a room and I just did not think about where I was (I was worried about freaking out etc). I have since done another France trip and 3 long haul trips. I don't like it but I try not to think about it and I just do it. We are going long haul at Easter and I am thinking about being there but not about getting there. My advice is focus on your actual holiday and simply don't think about the flying bit. It worked for me. Good luck!

DollyTots Wed 21-Mar-18 17:48:22

I was agoraphobic to the point I wouldn't leave my house. This was about two years ago and I'm now recovered, out & about, which I did using the book DARE. I so recommend it, I'm inclined to fly/go abroad now whereas I definitely wasn't before. I had the same feelings as you (feeling trapped at each stage of the process) It definitely has techniques/sayings/audios that will make the travelling process so much easier and it will have all come from within you! x

nothingcomestonothing Wed 21-Mar-18 20:38:42

It is helping so much to know that others have had this, and that some of you have come through it - fear of flying kind of seems socially acceptable, but mine isn't that and quite a lot of the time I just feel stupid and like a freak for being scared of the things I'm scared of. You've reminded me that I'm not that weird and I'm not alone - thank you flowers

Graphista Wed 21-Mar-18 20:48:14

Op if you like I can send you a (very long) list of my phobias.

Yes I feel like a weirdo freak sometimes too - I especially worry about embarrassing dd. But we can't help it.

We can do what we can to address/reduce it but we are who we are.

Even at my best when it's not obvious to others, it's in my mind. I wish I could just cut it out.

ItsLikeRainOnYourWeddingDay Wed 21-Mar-18 20:56:19

You need to be realistic. If you are agoraphobic just getting to the airport gate will be a problem. Never mind adding in a fear of flying.

Please look at a CBT intensive course. Do not rely on drugs or drinking.

Could you do something this weekend that you find incredibly hard ie a busy shopping centre, travel on a bus etc and really test yourself to your limits. Without some exposure to your fears before the trip there is a real risk that you will have a panic attack, etc

specialsubject Fri 23-Mar-18 15:08:55

Drugs have different effects on everyone. If you have different body chemistry from someone's sister the diazepam may do nothing.

Please look into proper therapy. Good luck!

And no child suffered by not traveling abroad.

I8toys Fri 23-Mar-18 15:16:49

I flew to Rome in February for the first time in 15+ years. I'd built it up in my head to enormous proportions and refused to entertain it for years but my children were missing out so that pushed me. I cannot say I enjoyed it but it wasn't absolutely dreadful.

We had express parking which helped and express check in. We flew from Luton and it was absolutely fine.

Next trip is to Copenhagen week after Easter. It has opened up so many possibilities for us and we are planning new trips with wonderful places for our children to see.

Also got diazepam from the doctor but didn't use it. Just the fact that I had it probably helped. I didn't want to be spaced out on board and have never taken it before so have no idea if I would have any side effects. A jack daniels and coke on board helped though!!

crumpet Fri 23-Mar-18 15:23:25

If possible can you sit on your own, away from the children? That way you won’t have to deal with them if your parents can, you won’t worry them with your anxiety, and you can focus on yourself and getting through the flight.

nothingcomestonothing Fri 23-Mar-18 21:05:35

Thanks for replies - I do get that the drugs might not work for me, and I'm teetotal so drinking the fear away is out! I have got some time to try to make this into a manageable thing, I need to be a bit more proactive instead of stewing on my fears. I don't want to pass my anxiety to my children, and I want them to have the opportunity to travel which I didn't as a child. I'll look into therapy, and talk to my parents about ways to make it easier for me (like sitting on my own which is very appealing). Thank you.

nothingcomestonothing Wed 28-Mar-18 21:06:55

Update - I booked the holiday at the weekend, and weirdly feel calmer about it now I've committed myself to doing it. I booked the priority parking with fast track security passes, thanks @18toys for giving me the idea - knowing I don't have to mess about getting buses from a far flung car park and knowing we will go through security quicker is helping with two of my anxieties, and I've booked seats which I think I can manage best in on the plane both ways. Thank you so much everyone for the help and suggestions, and hopefully this will encourage anyone else with similar anxieties to take the plunge too.

Graphista Wed 28-Mar-18 21:18:20

Well done. Yes I have to remind myself that taking action is often less stress than the worrying about a thing.

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