Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I know many of you can't understand my fear of flying. In fact >> I << don't really understand it. I understand numbers and statistics, etc. but for some reason my fear is ever intensening even though reason tells me I am safer flying than eating cheetos.

Just to give you an idea...when someone says to me "you know, flying is actually safer than driving" it would be the equivalent of someone telling you that "walking on a tightrope between two skyscrapers is actually much safer than walking across the street on the ground". You think "YEAH RIGHT!" and even if it is safer, you don't want to go through the anxiety and the stress of actually having to walk on that tightrope. You want to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, you're comfortable there, you are in control there. It's safe. No anxiety.

When my parents announced over a year ago that they wanted to take the entire family on a cruise, I was SO excited! Especially because we were living in Austin and Houston was a mere three hour DRIVE away. It was so perfect! we are in Utah and the cruise is about three weeks away. I simply cannot bring myself to book my airline tickets. I was really close the other day, I had the tickets up on the screen. I was about to call and then my chest would tighten up so I could hardly breath, and my heart was beating so fast it hurt.

Some things that I go through that you might not when booking airfare...

* I stew about which flight I choose becaus I am choosing my destiny! What if I pick the wrong one and it is a horrible flight?
* What is the weather going to be like? Houston has lots of thunderstorms, I want no part of landing or taking off in a thunderstorm!
* I research the type of plane that each flight is...what is the plane's safety record? Etc. It's really awesome (not) how wikipedia articles about different types of planes list all of the accidents and incidents that type of plane has been in.
* What time of day is the flight? I don't want some pilot who was out drinking the night before flying me out at 6AM. Nor do I want an exhausted pilot who has flown 24 hours straight to fly my plane at 11:00PM.
* What if the pilot has a death wish?

I know these things seem silly to you. I really can't explain it. Certainly you are slightly crazy in your own little ways too. And your fears probably seem irrational to me. For instance, what stresses Blaine out about flying is making sure he checks in properly and finds the right gate. Are you freaking kidding me? What is scary about that? Finding a gate number???

We watched a 20/20 recently about Howie Mandel and his battle with being OCD. The guy washes his money. He was on a vacation with his kids and one of hids kids pants brushed against his hand (or something!) and he had to go back home to shower and change. So he goes through all of this angst and horror in his everyday life and then has no problem hopping on a personal jet and flying 300 days a year. I cannot understand that!

I cannot understand his personal fear, but I can relate to the dilemma.

Anyway. I finally sucked it up, again. I was going to book the ticket. I was driven because I had missed so many sales and the airfare price went up AGAIN and I know that soon I am going to have to fork out TONS of money for these tickets. So I log on and prepare for the battle to purcahse tickets, which certainly will take most of the day ... and first I check the news. Awesome.

Now I physically and emotionally won't be able to do it. At least not for a while.

Anyway, pray for me because man, I HATE THIS. I don't like being this way. I want to be excited about my cruise but I can't be until I am there because of this ridiculous obstacle. That's right, I know it is ridiculous thank you very much : )

Merry Christmas !


McCulloch Moments said...

I have no less than seven extended family members that feel just as you've described. When I first flew at 15, I felt the same way (I blame brainwashing! but really, it did seem scary...) and then one day, I realized that by feeling that way, I was missing more in real life than all of the horrible things that I was imagining. So now I say, don't sweat it. If something horrible happens, then it happens, and you deal with it. Statistically speaking, if you crash, you will die and then you don't have to worry about doing it ever again.
~Jeannie :D

Uncle Zeke said...

Kristy, the fear of flying is common, so don't beat yourself up over it. I used to freak myself out, thinking of all the things that might happen, but over time, it lessened to the point of non-existence. Now I LOVE flying. The sensations during take off and landing, seeing the country in a few hours (albeit, through a small window), and being able to get from one place to another in such a short amount of time.... not that I discount a good road trip.

My advice to you: First, Valium. Get a doctor to prescribe something for you that will make you relax. People need to take this stuff, just to get an EEG done. I would be one of those people. I get horribly claustrophobic in tight spots. Anyhow, get something to at least make you not "care" so much.

Second, do some research. There is usually a time where missionaries are going to be flying out to their perspective missions. I honestly have heard of people who will only fly when they know missionaries are going to be on board. They feel that the Lord's annointed are going to be protected, so let's hope the rest of the plane is.

Other than that, all we can all do is pray for you. ;-)


Jules said...

Wow, your fear must be intense if your frugal nature doesn't win out in booking airline tickets!

Can't someone else book the tickets (aka Blaine), so arrange it so you are on the same flight with the rest of your family?

And you should seriously consider getting something from the doc to help you relax- who knows, the increased health risk from high anxiety might be a bigger risk than flying in an airplane!

Earl and Vickie said...

Blayne needs to order the tickets. Soon.

Mariah said...

This sounds like my whole life :) I have learned that I need to put the stress on someone else. I say have Blaine do it and you can put your energy into feeling good for the actualy flight. I haven't figured out how to calm myself and it is frustrating to be our of control like that. You could get something like xanex to help, but I wouldn't rely on it all the time. We recently went on a cruise to the Bahamas and the anxiety and stress of it all was so worth it! HOpe you are able to relax on your cruise. Good luck!

Gretchen said...

I would be curious to know how old you were when you took for first plane flight? I'm been flying for as long as I can remember, so it's almost like it never occurred to me to be worried when I was little, and then there was no obvious time for it to start.

But I understand. My weird issues are just less obvious. Like wet cloth. I can handle it if it JUST got wet or it if's coming out of my washing machine. But it takes an inordinate amount of will power for me to touch a cloth that has been wet for a long time or that I didn't witness it getting wet. Things like that... mostly ones that get in the way of me cleaning my house.

Capt Tom Bunn LCSW said...

Unless you understand what is going on, you have no chance to remedy it.

1.Medication is not effective.

2. Hypnotism is “hit or miss”.

3. Courses that explain how safe flying is still leave the question of safety up in the air because planes do, though rarely, crash.

4. Cognitive therapy does not work for many people because the feelings develop too rapidly to keep the mind clear enough to use the cognitive “tools”.

What is needed is an automatic way to control feelings.

We are born with half of the emotion regulation system in place, the half that revs us up. The half that calms us down does not exist at birth. By eighteen months a part of the brain develops that can let the child calm itself. The child memorizes the steps caregivers use to provide calming. If the steps are highly effective, the child can calm itself independently using the steps memorized.

Obviously, caregivers – regardless of how much they care – vary in their ability to tune in the child and assure the child effectively. As a result, few of us get an optimal ability to calm ourselves.

During teenage years, we tend to think bad things only happen to others. This youthful optimism gets us by for a few years without excessive anxiety. But as we mature, we realize something can happen to us. We then turn to strategies to keep anxiety when dealing with uncertainty under control. The strategies typically involve control and escape.

Control: when anxiety is not naturally available, we depend on control of situations to avoid anxiety. When driving a car, we believe we can make everything work out alright. Though driving is not as safe as flying, we feel safer because the wheel is in our own, not someone elses, hands.

Escape: if there is a car accident, there may be a chance of surviving. If a plane, people mistakenly believe that if something goes wrong they are doomed. In a plane, if something goes wrong, backup systems are used. Backup systems make flying safer than driving. But these systems are in the cockpit where they seem theoretical. Though backup systems provide greater safety in a plane than is available in a car, the systems are not as real to a passenger as a steering wheel is in the hands of a driver.

Since the backup systems are not concrete enough to make passengers feel safe, many try to escape psychologically by keeping their thoughts elsewhere throughout the flight. If, due to turbulence, the person cannot keep the flight out of mind, there is no way to keep feelings under control.

I need you to understand that the feelings you are troubled by are caused by stress hormones, mainly adrenalin and cortisol. They rev you up. When you get too many “hits” of these stress hormones from too many thoughts, worries, concerns, etc., you get high anxiety or panic. Fortunately, there is a way to control feelings. We prevent the release of adrenalin and cortisol by causing the release of oxytocin. We cause the release of oxytocin by linking each thing that happens on a flight, and each thing you worry about, to the memory of a moment that causes oxytocin to be released.

Oxytocin shuts down the amygdala, the part of the brain that triggers the release of the hormones that cause fear. Once the links are established between an oxytocin-producing moment and troublesome moments of flight, high anxiety and panic are automatically controlled. This is an advanced way of controlling the feelings, and it was not possible to do this until research using brain scan technology showed us how the brain works.

To establish the links, a person follows step-by-step the linking sequences shown on video available at

Most people doubt anything will work, but this does, as you can see from the thousands of comments on the SOAR message board.

Blaine said...

Just wanted to let everyone know that I have been begging Kristi for weeks to let me order the tickets while they're cheap (Okay, BEGGING is an exaggeration but so was the description of how "scared" I am of checking in and finding the gate so I guess we're even...) Don't worry, she wouldn't let me order the tickets either. She blamed that on her frugal side: "If I let you be in charge of it you'll pay way too much and do something wrong..."

Anyway, so you know how the story ends, Kristi today gave me the green light to just make the call and get the tickets ordered. And now it's a done deal.

(Lest you think that I am slacking or insensitive of my wife's fear :)

Tom and Tami said...

As you know, we are going on a cruise soon too. However, I don't fear about flying (and we're going all the way to Porto Rico, no choice but to fly), my fear is the ocean! Being on the ship in the ocean doesn't freak me out too much, but getting in the water with who-knows-what does. I am a true aquafobic when it comes to oceans, lakes or anything else with living things and where you can't see what's below you.

Karina said...

Okay, I have to admit that I was totally shocked that all you people have these unrealistic fears. How many of you people are out there? How do you live?! But then I read what Tom and Tami said about being afraid of what's in the ocean and I totally am too. So I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm a freak too.

Alex, Steve and I were at the ocean once and I had a panic attack that Alex was in the water. Weird 'cause I grew up in Redondo Beach my whole life and I spent every summer at the beach and in the water without a problem.

julianne orth said...

is this the same anxiety that you had over lightning and bees, cuz i believe i helped you get over both of those. remember me running outside in the rain and you screaming at me to come inside, so maybe i should help you out with this one, my tactics seem to work :) or make them worse, not quite sure. I will run through the airport if you need me to...

Melissa Ash said...

Get meds!!! SERIOUS!!! You can do it!! Are you flying out with family so that if you are a little out of it, Blaine can have help with the kids from someone? Or is it just your family? Still, get meds!! Also, too bad you don't know who the pilot is going to be, because if you did, you could check into military experience! There are some AMAZING pilots out there, and you could pray like crazy for one of those!! :) I agree with irrational fears. I also hate the ocean. The thought of a cruise, or even getting in the ocean make me creepy crawly!!! YIKES!