Time To Go Home
It’s my last day in New York. My flight to Atlanta leaves early this evening. If not for my claustrophobia, I could probably enjoy my last few hours in New York, but I am already busy worrying about my return flight. Just thinking about it, I’m clenching my teeth and I have butterflies in my stomach. I should probably go ahead and take my pill.
I have learned how to manage and live with the symptoms of my claustrophobia. I’ve developed tricks and techniques that allow me to halt panic attacks before they get to the stage where I wouldn’t be able to step on the plane…and trust me, this has happened in the past.
So, what do I do?
Medication: I use some medication that helps me to avoid panic attacks. The key is the timing—when to take this medication. It makes a huge difference if I take a half-dose before any symptoms arise, which means taking the first dose before I leave for the airport and the second half when I get on the plane. I’ve found that if I split my medication in two, I’m less likely to get a panic attack. Sometimes, especially on longer flights, it’s harder to manage the phobia. During a trip like that, I need to take another half-dose after six hours.
Talk About It: If I happen to be flying by myself, I tell the passengers seated next to me about my claustrophobia and sometimes I let the flight attendant know as well. Although I share with them how serious it is, I try to infuse it with some humor, even a bit of sarcasm. By doing this, I break the ice with these strangers. I also tell them what to expect if and when an attack were to happen.
Alcohol: Okay, this one I probably should not talk about since it’s not something that is advised. But since we’re getting so close lately, I feel that I can trust my readers. I discovered that if I have one alcoholic beverage, I can totally kill my crazy phobia—plus, I’ll get a nice sleep. And if I’m being that open with you, I can tell you that my favorites are Bloody Marys or white wine. Like I said, it’s not something that I suggest doing; we all know that alcohol is not recommended in conjunction with medication.
Smaller Spaces: Smaller spaces than the airplane cabin can be helpful. If I’m feeling cramped, I go to the bathroom and stay there for a while. Then, when I step out, I get a sense of relief. The plane appears large and spacious after that tiny, confined bathroom.
Positioning: One thing that gives me immediate relief is to lower my head to my knees and hold it between my hands.
Wi-Fi: I always purchase the Gogo in-flight service, even for short flights. By having contact with the outside world, I feel less confined—it gives me a greater sense of control. Besides, knowing that I can let someone at home know what’s happening makes me feel safer. Being on social media, texting, and emailing really helps pass the time quickly.
Now, if I could just make this claustrophobia disappear forever…but I can’t.
I hope this helps at least one of you. If you have more tricks on how to manage claustrophobia, please send them my way.
Time to take a pill.