In less than one month I fly from the US to Norway and ... I'm scared sh*tless.

Normally I would be nervous about the speech I'm giving while I'm there, but that seems to be secondary to the fear I have for just getting there.

I'm afraid of flying. The funny thing is, I wrote this post on a plane. But, it was a plane flying over land, which for some reason feels better to me.

I'm not afraid of the plane crashing, or the plane disappearing into the abyss. I can accept those as possibilities. I can also rationalize that those things happening are slim to none and if it does, it would be an anomaly.

It's not the fear of flying for me, it's the fear of fear. In the panic business, we call that anticipatory anxiety.

I have anxiety disorder, and flying isn't one of my favorite things.

Because I've flown so much domestically, it's become old hat. Three/four hour flight I can deal with fine. Nine hour flight, over water--not so much.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, anxiety brings about very irrational fears. Things that are often embarrassing or even hard to explain, but I'm going to try:

There is a fear of entrapment, but not necessarily claustrophobia. People with Anxiety have safe zones, which need to be accessible or within reasonable reach. Of course, middle of the ocean, 40,000 feet in the sky isn't usually one of those.

There is a fear of going crazy on the flight. Who really knows that that means, but that still doesn't stop the feeling that it could happen.

Fear of heights. Same as most people, except anxiety leads me to believe that I might try to jump out. At 40,000 feet. Without a parachute. Yep, totally reasonable.

And lastly, there is the fear of fear itself. Toughest to explain for me. It's basically a fear of having a panic attack, which, if/when it happens, feels inescapable. When panic sets in, you can kiss reasoning goodbye, at least for awhile. Panic attacks set off a whole stream of irrationality that just continues to build upon itself. Ultimately though, it feels like you're about to die. It's extremely scary and terribly unsettling.

I've been honored with the chance to speak at a conference in Norway and I'll be damned if I turn down the opportunity to visit the home of my blonde-haired, pale-skinned ancestors.

So, I'm going to do it. I have to. I've learned that the only true way to confront anxiety is head on, so I've decided that this time, anxiety can kiss my a$*.

Published on: Feb 10, 2015
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