As mentioned previously, yesterday was my first flight since the course. I had had such a strange, out of the ordinary week and that’s something that would usually have me very anxious, but all week had been using the techniques that Vanessa taught us (especially five second breathing) to ensure that my anxiety didn’t take hold. I was pleased and surprise to find that it worked!
Hopping on the plane was a breeze (though I found myself wishing that you all were with me, especially Vanessa with her distraction techniques!) as was push-back and take-off.
During the first hour there were a couple of nervous moments, but instead of letting myself take hold of those thoughts, I flicked them off, breathed, and reminded myself that the pilots were in control.
When the phone dinged my sister asked me I I knew what that noise meant, and I told her the pilots probably wanted their coffee 😉
When the plane turned sharply, I knew we were just following our course, not flipping over! When we started to descend and it sounded like the engines went off and it felt bumpy and there was a big noise, I reminded myself that we don’t need so much power coming into land and the air pressure is changing and the landing gear is going down.
These are all things that would have had me in full-on panic attack mode before. But because I could control my physical reaction by regulating my breathing, I was in a state to remind myself that I knew why everything was happening.
My mum was crying when she met me at the airport. I think she thought she would never see me hop off a plane again! My life has just opened up since completing the course. The sense of freedom is overwhelming. I feel like a new person! No more boundaries! Again, thank you all so much for your support and for sharing your stories post-course.
I just wanted to take the time to write a few lines about my experience with the Fearless Fliers program which I graduated from last Sunday in Melbourne after flying to Sydney return.
This was nothing short of amazing. The opportunities to expand my learning about the aviation industry by actually being in a simulator, visiting the Air Traffic Control Tower, having access to engineers and pilots to ask questions were so valuable and I am honestly in awe of the program and the volunteers who make it possible.
The care, commitment, concern and kindness of all of the volunteers and program facilitators was of the highest degree and I at all times felt safe, nurtured and free to express and learn about a phobia that has long troubled me and limited my life.
Where to now for me? I still have a lot of reinforcement, brain re-training and practice to go before I get good at this. But, I truly believe that I have given myself an amazing start by signing up to and going through this course. One of the hardest and challenging – but most rewarding things that I have ever had to do.
I thank all of the volunteers and organizers from the bottom of my heart.