Da Plane, Da Plane

This post was written by admin on February 13, 2009
Posted Under: Daily Panic Battles
Credit ABC

Credit: ABC Television

Famous words from the iconic mini me on “Fantasy Island.” Such a catch phrase that caught on for many years. Fantasy Island is gone and the iconic mastermind of fantasies come true on this magical island recently passed away.

Panic Attacks lend such a strange sur-reality that is is utterly impossible at the time that a Panic Attack strikes, what is real and what is fantasy. During the moment of strike, it is so hard to find reality but after the attack is over, reality and the feeling of “whew I got through it” is a relief that we relish, and then gets filed away until the inevitable next strike. It is this experience that I want to expand upon in this entry.

I had to take a plane trip, alone, recently. I was mentally prepared and properly nourished; or at least I thought the first part was under control. I was fine, I boarded the plane. I had a convenient seat on the isle, easy to get to the luxurious airline bathrooms that are more like porta potties at a soccer field. My anxiety climbed as the “what-if” thoughts began to build. As we pushed away from the gate, my anxiety climbed and reached panic. I unbuckled my seat belt and made a bee line to the stewardess to tell her that I wanted off. Changing it to “have you ever dealt with anyone with panic disorder?” Her answer was a reassuring, “No I have not, what is that?” Great! Let’s knock the panic up a notch. She asked me to return to my seat and she would be back. I could not muster up the power to retrieve my IPOD or even open either of the 2 items of reading material I had. She came back and sat with me during take off. By this time I was sweating profusely and was in a full blown panic mode. She tried to make sall talk which irritated me even more, but then I realized she was trying to divert my attention elsewhere. I turned to her and told her at 4000 feet that I wanted off. She asked me if I was sure, I nodded my head yes and said “no.” She told me she was going to ask an off duty flight attendant to sit with me.

So now I had an off duty flight attendant sitting with me. She was also not familar with panic attacks (which seemed odd as there are many that suffer from flight anxiety.) But she sat there and tried to understand what I was feeling and what Panic Attacks were all about. The flight was a mere 2 hour flight, but 45 minutes into the flight and the assistance I was getting, I was beginning to find myself more agitated than anything else. Which proved to be a great way to diffuse the Panic Attack. The first stewardess brought me flight sized bottle of wine which I had 2 sips of.

For the balance of the flight my anxiety levels had dropped dramatically and by the time we landed, I was fine. On my way down to the taxi stand I reflected on what happened, how I could have handled it better and the “what-if” began for the flight home. But I was calm and myself again.

Until I discovered that my taxi driver was 75 years old and was in poor health. Mild panic started again, but the ride was only 12 minutes.

The flight home was almost totally uneventful and not even worth mentioning.

I succeeded in taking a trip without a loved one or even anyone I knew from home and back. What I learned in this adventure was the same thing I already knew. I fought against the feelings and sensations so much and so hard that I actually created my own trauma. Instead of telling Panic to give me its full force and then some, I instead decided to fight it with all my will and every ounce of energy. I am reminded from this that instead of fightng the fear of the Panic Attack, that we should welcome Panic like a friend. If we welcome Panic then Panic will learn that we are not afraid and what once was a feared enemy has become a welcomed guest, there is no sense in Panic continuing to try and create havoc.

I know this sounds a bit crazy. But it is something that those of us battling with the Panic Monster need to come to terms with. Instead of fighting and locking the door, we need to unlock and open the door and let Panic come. Assuming that a doctor has told you that you have nothing wrong with you except Anxiety and/or Panic Disorder, Panic will maintain a hold on us as long as we embrace the fear that Panic invokes in us.

So as Ricardo Montalbán and Hervé Villechaize wave to the visitors of Fantasy Island, wave to Panic as an invited guest that can be made to find that it is no longer welcome in your life.

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Reader Comments

this is a wonderful writeup and a new approach to panic attacks. You are a great son for me.

#1 
Written By bill R wiles on February 24th, 2009 @ 7:42 am

Thank you for sharing your experience. I have had similar ones. Most of my life I was ok with flying, just a little different than any other mode of transport. However, lately I want nothing more than to get off the plane at all costs. I really believe that “allowing” this state to be as it is, allowing these feelings as if you had chosen them is the only way to freedom from this. I wonder if this is really the only secret to happiness that seems to allude most of humanity.

#2 
Written By MCG on March 25th, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

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