Happy New Year All!

A bit late I guess but hopefully you all had a good celebration of the annual cusp that is New Year’s. Started the year with a brisk walk/climb through the Comeragh Mountains in Co. Waterford on New Year’s Day – start as I aim to finish and all that. 🙂

This year presents many challenges for me. I’m taking a bit of time to myself to concentrate on issues that I have been trying to deal with for a while now and hopefully will come out the other side of the year better for it. One thing that I have been living with for over 4 years now is a crippling fear of flying that has prevented me taking a flight during that period. Not too much fun when the better half really enjoys the whole travel experience – I’ve become somewhat of a stumbling block; a personification that has no place, not even in the deep ramblings of trans-discipline metaphysical poetry.

I have tried plenty of things to convince myself that flying is good, etc, etc but thus far I have not been able to win over the fear. Unlike many people who suffer with a fear of flying, my problem (although I initially thought so) is not linked to either cluastrophobia nor a fear of death. Ever since I was a young kid, I have had a problem with an acute sense of motion. Rollercoasters, spinning fairground rides, and even playground swings were not the attraction that they should have been but moreso a terrifying prospect. This turned out to be something that I couldn’t avoid either in my adult life. Moving at speed as a passenger in a car (like the Mondello Race track experience that shock my nerves), going downhill in a car even at relatively low speeds if there was a sudden drop and of course the constant motion of non-contact flying were drops and rises are a constant play. To this day I’m pretty sure there are people who wonder why I always insist upon driving myself rather than taking a lift – mystery solved guys!

My good wife purchased me Allen Carr’s “Easy Way to Enjoy Flying” for Christmas in the hope that the powerful words of this master author would help me on my crusade against fear. As I read through the book, I note that it is incredibly clever and definitely a worthwhile investment for anyone with “the fear” or “FOF” as Allen refers to it as. However, my optimism is somewhat quashed too as I think that the book is mainly focussed on removing the unwarranted fear of death rather than anything that will really help me.

From all the reading that I have done, it may turn out that my choice of a rabbit as a pet may have been subconsciously influenced by having something in common with the creature. Rabbits freeze in the headlamps of cars, not because they are blinded but the fear causes their bodies to produce an excess of the chemical serotonin which puts the body into an almost paralytic state coupled with a heightened state of anxiety. The same chemical is produced by humans particularly those who do not enjoy rollercoaster rides. The opposite chemical, dopamine, is also produced by humans and probably exists in vast quantities in the boy racer community – I never thought that I would envy them, alas I tip my hat, you princes of brain[control]. Self-diagnosis is always the worst kind but try going to a doctor with the complaint that you have a crippling fear of … 10 minutes later you’ll be out the door with a prescription for Valium or Xanax. That to me is not an answer, I don’t even take paracetamol without protest never mind dope myself up just for a flight.

I wish there was a solution that would not only open the locked doors of airports in my mind but that would also set me free to enjoy many of the other things in life that I admire on paper but cannot do in practice. Answers on a postcard please…

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  1. Best of fortune in 2009 Jonathan. I can’t help with the FOF seeing as I tend to fall asleep shortly after take-off. Maybe starting with letting others drive you would help?

  2. you know, the brain cant detect motion, only acceleration 🙂 a guy in the office here is a trained pilot, he was telling us all about how you have to trust your instruments sometimes against your better judgment when flying, because your plane could actually be in the middle of an unrecoverable spiral or a dive and u wouldnt realise it, especially when in low visibility conditions. that being said, turbulence is still sudden acceleration etc, maybe start by flying in the summer time when the storms are few and far between.

    the sudden motion of turbulence gets me too, i have a fear of flying, and wont do it in winter, summer however i can summon up the courage to hop in and go on vaca.

    just my 2cents

  3. @Paul Cheers. I’ve tried the letting go thing but there’s a bit of randomness involved from time to time that thwarts experiencing the same fear in the same context as what triggered it say, yesterday. I’m close to sitting on a microwave at this stage to see if it will mutate my chemical production in some way. 🙂

    @Dave That’s interesting, re brain detecting only acceleration rather than motion. Although I guess all motion starts with acceleration of some form. 😉 No Winter trips home for you then I guess? I used to be able to tolerate it for ages when on a plane but 13 hours of it about 4 years back coming home from Capetown just pushed me over the edge. Someday…

  4. yeah, only flying for me in summer, if i decide its worth it, i normally drive to where i need to go and share the driving. the last 3 trips to NL and back for interviews were the bad, the 2nd last one, the plane landed a little sideways and i swear it rocked at is straightened itself, and the last flight was constant turbulence.

    if find the take off to be the worst part, but after that, its normally ok-ish

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