Something funny happened to me on the way to Atlanta…
…and boy are my arms tired!
Many of you know from Twitter and elsewhere that I have a very silly fear of flying, to the point that I get extremely stressed in the few days before a flight and extremely crazy during (I’ve cried under a blanket during turbulence, and not once have I used a plane toilet, because of the horror of my burned-up body being found mid-poo).
However, I recently returned from a trip to Dragon*Con in Atlanta, and on the ten-hour flight there I was baffled, amazed and delighted to discover I was no longer afraid. On the return flight, same thing. No fear. Even during the bumpy bits. Even during the “omg what was that noise what was it something fell off I smell smoke THAT MAN HAS A BOMB!” moments (which used to be all of a flight).
The even stranger part was that I did something I’ve never before done in the air: I fell asleep.
I’m not sure of the cause for my sudden rationality, although I can pinpoint the events of 9/11 as the cause of my phobia in the first place. Perhaps I’ve just simply broken through the ‘exposure’ threshold; I now fly many times a year, usually to the USA, and perhaps at some point the brain just says “right, we have enough practical experience now to know that we’re not going down, so let’s flip the switch from panic to cool”. Or perhaps there has been enough time since 9/11 to get complacent about the threat, sub-consciously. Yeah yeah, I know, I’m an idiot.
I say ‘sub-consciously’, because phobias are generally irrational and therefore not something to be easily countered with reasoning and probability. The old “you’re more likely to die from a donkey spitting cyanide at you whilst simultaneously whistling Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini than you are to die in a plane crash” stuff doesn’t work, and neither does the “hey you’ll be dead or passed out before the plane even hits the ground!” sort of reassurance that I’ve had so often. One tip that did help was to keep a bottle of water on the table in front me, so I could see how much the plane is actually moving during turbulence (or as I used to call it, pre-plummeting). Once I realised that the water doesn’t move very much at all, I was a little reassured, although not enough to stop me digging my nails into whatever poor soul was sitting next to me.
But now, that’s all over. During my Atlanta flights I didn’t even bother with the water thing. I still haven’t moved on from my habit of mentally pre-fixing my flight number with the words ‘the doomed’, but I can’t have everything. Now I just need to figure out how to make friends with spiders.