Airplane Windows Views + Anxiety

Looking at Prince Edward Island from above for the first time!

Are you tired of me sharing about the Brave Writer Retreat yet?! It is taking a while to process all the feelings and information...

The title for this post is a little odd, but says it all at the same time. 

I grew up traveling a lot with my parents, mostly by car and plane. My father had a business that included attending trade shows and my mother enjoyed traveling for pleasure too. Once I moved to Canada, I traveled back home to France often during the first years. 

All that to say that flying in an airplane was pretty common for me in my childhood and early adulthood. 

Then I had kids. 

And that is when I started being scared of flying. 

So our little family drove a lot more and didn't fly. 

The last time I flew to France to visit my mother and maternal grandparents was in 2001.  I had taken Gravol (over the counter medicine for motion sickness) and it had worked like a charm, knocking me out until we were almost in Paris. That was the last time I had gone on an airplane.

Fast forward to last summer, when I agreed to participate in this summer's Brave Writer Retreat in Cincinnati, Ohio as a speaker and workshop leader. As the date got closer, or really anytime I thought about the trip, I was very nervous. 

When planning for my trip to Ohio, I first tried to figure out if I could take a train or bus, anything but flying. I quickly realized that it would take forever so going on a plane would have to do. 

Ready to flight out of Charlottetown with the sunrise

I booked my flights. Three flights each way, actually. Up and down, taking off and landing, a total of 6 times each way. 

As the date got closer to my departure, I was increasingly nervous, loosing sleep and my appetite. I seriously worried about the airplane crashing and never seeing my family again. All kinds of doomed scenarios played in my head for weeks before my trip. I can honestly say that if I hadn't committed to speaking at the retreat, I would have backed out of it and stayed home. 

I have slowly realized over this last year that I do have some anxiety and phobias. I am not diagnosed officially but I am much more aware now of how my body reacts to certain situations physically and how I have stopped myself in the past because of it.

I am grateful that I now have a wonderful doctor who actually listens to my concerns. She had prescribed me a low dosage prescription (lorazepam) for an intrusive medical exam that I was very nervous about. I was very surprised at the time that it was so mild. I didn't feel any different, but it had helped calm my nerves so I could get through the exam. I asked if I could use the same prescription during my trip. This reassured me that I could, that if I needed it, I would have some helpful calming medication with me. I also focused on the fact that I was about to experience something completely new at the retreat, and I was also meeting one of my childhood friends for the first time in years during my New York City stop. 

View of New York City and Central Park

I am only sharing this with you because I am finally realizing that it really is OK to ask for help, to talk about my anxiety and nervousness. I used to feel bad about it. I never talked about it. I grew up with a mother that did not encourage me to talk about my feelings. It just wasn't done. If I felt scared or nervous about something, I was told to just keep going, to ignore those feelings, to push them away. As a kid, I didn't know any different. As an adult though, I wish I had spoken up earlier and asked for help. It is OK to not feel like I have it "all together". It is OK to say "I'm scared" or "I feel like I can't do this". It is even more OK to ask for help, especially if my feelings or brain or whatever it is stop me from doing things I actually want to do. 

Flying above the clouds was my favourite

I actually enjoyed the experience of traveling by air again. I didn't feel like I wanted to run out of the airplane once I boarded. I enjoyed those flights, including the take off and landing. I still didn't enjoy the turbulence on some of the flights, but that is normal! I looked outside the airplane windows. I took photos. I listened to audio books. It was a good experience, one that showed me I could do this, with a little help, and that was very reassuring. 

Toronto and Toronto Islands

Thank you if you read all this and looked at my photos. I truly appreciate you. I rarely write on this blog from my heart and it makes me feel very vulnerable. It is much safer to stay on the surface instead of diving down deep, but after being inspired at the retreat, I feel pulled to share just a little more.