Thursday, September 6, 2012

Flying is uncomfortable—not dreadful

Today I will be on an airplane.

Just a few months ago I would have dreaded the upcoming experience. While I am far along in my Recovery journey and would not have tried to avoid the trip, it would have been a very uncomfortable activity. But I have learned that it will be just that: uncomfortable. Not excruciating. Not unbearable. Just uncomfortable.

Dr. Low frequently reminds us that we crave comfort, and when we begin to dread discomfort we develop a vicious cycle of fear and anxiety. I now understand, through my Recovery training, that should I experience chest palpitations, intense sweating, blurry vision, and other “intense” symptoms, I should accept them as merely feelings and sensations, which I cannot control. I can control my thoughts and impulses. I am often amazed by how quickly the sensations will dissipate when I do not work them up.

I acknowledge that I am feeling nervous about the trip today. I am a little shaky and my stomach is jittery. Yet I am not concerned about these sensations because they are an average experience before I fly. Of course, I do not like them, but I’m not letting them bother me. They will wax and wane throughout the day, but by not working them up I will minimize their impact and proceed with my day. In the past I would want to call someone to discuss my “agonies” for hours. Now I know that such a bid for comfort rarely resolves symptoms and, in fact, enhances them.

I am bearing the discomfort and fulfilling my work responsibilities. I am moving forward in my Recovery journey. I am taking control away from anxiety. And for all of that I heartily endorse!


ElizaV said...

Its great that you're managing to control your anxiety. I am the same way about flying! I hope all went well for you x

mental health girl said...

This blog is brilliant i know exactly how you feel with anxiety, i also suffer with anxiety and agoraphobia and it all to often stops me from living my life how i want to, by cancelling and avoiding things but going on a airplane is an absolutely amazing acheivement you should be very proud of yourself for getting this far, i hope it all goes well, il look forward to reading other blogs you post in the future :)

AnxietySelfTreatment said...

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Leslie said...

I feel the same when it comes to flying. Just the thought of riding on an airplane makes me really anxious. It's been a while since i rode one and i just hope some day i can get over this feeling.

therapy for insomnia said...

We are all facing anxiety from time to time, you are not alone.

honey ok said...

awesome ways to overcome anxiety, learning what makes you anxious is the key, thanks for this

Aaron said...

It's awesome that you are coming along so well that flying is no longer terrifying for you.

Acceptance is key!

Lisa T. said...

I like what Doug says on his blog—sensations really do dissipate when you do not work them up—but recently two friends of mine recommended an interesting e-book, Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions by Vlad Koros, which approaches anxiety differently from anything that I’ve seen and heard before. Koros explains that anxiety as well as other emotions gives your trouble only as long as they manifest themselves somatically—that is, you feel them in your body, as Doug illustrated in his latest post. Koros continues to explain using detailed examples how to track down the phases in the mechanism that triggers your anxiety and how to disrupt it at will, by manipulating your breathing or body movements. I used only the first technique for one weekend about a month ago, and I can’t quite believe it, but my anxiety (which I have because of my high-stress work environment) has decreased.

Anonymous said...

Hi There

I have just started my own anxiety blog. Basically its a diary and a bit about me and my story with anxiety. I'm a relatively young guy at 28 and it kind of came out of the blue. it would be great to share my story and hear all yours.


Linda Connors said...

Doug, thanks for sharing your recovery journey. I suffered suffered from severe anxiety about 15 years ago and I went on a inner journey of personal healing and growth for around 10 years and really liked what you said about acceptance. When I accepted my thoughts and feelings I stopped fighting them and they became a little easier to be with. Mindfulness helped me with acceptance, however it took me a while to be able to get to the place to meditate and be able to just sit with my feelings and experiences without the need to comfort eat or binge drink to help manage the anxiety.