I Was So Scared Of Flying, I Couldn’t Set Foot On A Plane. Here’s How I Overcame My Phobia.

by | Sep 16, 2022 | Travel

When I read that the singer Ari Lennox has stopped booking shows overseas because aerophobia was “destroying” her health, I understood her dilemma.The year I turned 30, I lived in New York City with my cello, two adopted tabby cats and my boyfriend, Brian. He and I ran a contemporary classical ensemble. We pieced together gigs and part-time jobs to support ourselves while focusing on presenting works by living composers. After securing artist management, we booked many concerts around the country for the upcoming season. I had also committed to a three-week tour in East Asia with another band. Finally, my dream of performing for a living and traveling the world to play music felt within reach. Yet something stood in my way.AdvertisementFor five years, I had not boarded an airplane because I felt too afraid. Until I was 25, I flew occasionally, but never comfortably. A psychiatrist diagnosed me with panic disorder as a teenager, and flying emerged as a top trigger. Every bit of turbulence made me brace for a nosedive. I trembled in my seat and stared out the window as though fixating on the earth would help the aircraft stay up. During a trip to visit a college boyfriend in Slovenia, I hyperventilated until a flight attendant asked me to lie on the floor with an oxygen mask.Did I inherit a distrust of planes from my father, who couldn’t travel by air until his 30s? Or did the crash scene in the movie “Alive” trigger my catastrophic thinking? Whatever the reason, I irrationally believed that jetting through the sky put me in danger, and I inadvertently gathered “evidence” to prove myself right. Landing was always my favorite part because, from my distorted view, it felt miraculous. The author’s headshot from 2003, during the time when she was too afraid to fly.Photo by Stephen MosherWithout a real nee …

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