Breathe in, breathe out.
Breathe in, breathe out.
I tell myself these words for the nth time. The turbulence of the airplane makes my heartbeat rate rise towards infinity. I am sitting there, seatbelt clasped tightly around my waist, breathing deep and heavy. The airhostess goes on about emergency exits and a bunch of other situations where we have to exit the aircraft due to an immediate crisis.
“In case of lack of oxygen, pull the yellow breathing mask towards your nose and mouth.” The airhostess said, on the small, bright screen in front of me. I felt like pulling the mask down right now, I just couldn’t breathe. Finally, she bid us a goodbye; ending with saying, “Please enjoy the flight.” Enjoy. I wish. We sit still for a while and then the aircraft starts moving. Please don’t take off. Please don’t. The aircraft gains speed and if the windows weren’t closed, the strong wind outside would’ve ripped my skin apart. I close my eyes and my sweaty palms grasp the armrests of the seat I was sitting on. One…Two…Three. Here we go. The airplane takes off and I hold my breath, face shining bright as the sun reflects on my sweaty face. I sit there, back straight, breaths now short and rapid as I had be holding it for too long. My head hits the back of my headrest. I look outside the window and even though the scene outside of the clouds floating past the window is utterly beautiful and calming, I still keep having panic attacks.
What if we go down or what if we do an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean? I can’t even swim properly. But what if, even worse, I don’t get the emergency instructions, you know, I am kind of slow at instructions, and everyone leaves me behind and I am stuck in the suffocating aircraft forever? No, no, no.
I shake my head. The person next to me glances at me and probably, actually, definitely is thinking about how crazy and fretful I am. I look away from the person because the last think I needed to feel in these pool of feels that I was floating in was being self-conscious and worried about what people think about me. “Ma’am, do you want a bag of peanuts? It’ll calm you down.” I look up to see an airhostess. I surely believe that I looked mad and scared as a stranded puppy. She didn’t wait for my answer, as my mouth was unable to form words at the catastrophic moment. She shoved the peanuts into my hands and walked away smiling. I look at the peanut packet. Salty and amazing! ***** Airlines. I open the bag and even though the feeling of nausea was awful, I took a peanut and popped it into my mouth. Calm down. Another peanut and then another. Within ten minutes I was holding an empty packet of peanuts, earphones plugged in, trying to desolate myself from the rest of the world and hopefully my anxious feelings. The turbulence sinks down the hard, rock music that I was listening to. What if the turbulence goes down? I shut my eyes and try to get rid of these thoughts. My stomach turns upside down and I almost feel like throwing up. I press the airhostess button and ask for another bag of peanuts. Atleast I’ll be calm for the next 10 minutes to come. I play soothing songs as the rock songs made me feel like my heart might burst off from my rib cage. The turbulence sinks down the soft music completely but I still try to listen the smallest bits that I can. Taking deep breaths I realize that this bag of peanuts lasted me longer than the last one. I order another one. I tried to sleep after shoving another bag of peanuts into my mouth but even if I felt tired and my head threatened to burst, small, little, worthless panic attacks kept me awake. Another bead of sweat appears on my cheek. I sigh and try to rest myself. After another hour or two, and shamelessly eating 3 more bags of peanuts and contemplating about how my life would end if this plane doesn’t make contact with the ground soon, the plane starts descending. As much as I wanted this to end, the plane descending down made me more nervous than when it was ascending. I tried to calm myself down but my ears were ringing with a ‘buzz!’ sound due to the air pressure and my heart was going crazy with no reason to explain why. I start taking deep breaths again as I look out of the window. I’ve made it this far; I don’t want give up now. I started stomping my feet like a little kid and placed my sweaty palms on my face. I was mad scared. The seatbelt was so tight around my waist that I felt like throwing up all the peanuts I ate. But that would be gross, so I controlled myself. The plane sped up so fast that I could actually feel the outside wind hitting my face, trying to rip my skin apart. I started shaking and with a loud ‘thud’ and a huge shake that I’d describe as ‘the greatest tremor I’ll ever experience’ the plane landed on the ground and I didn’t realize that I had been holding my breath for a really long time. The plane came to a halt and people started getting up to get their luggage. I sat there, or should I say, froze in my seat both for not believing that I made it to my destination alive and that I didn’t die. I took another set of deep breaths and slowly got up to get my luggage with shaky legs. My hands were pale and cold and the back of my shirt was wet from sweat. I slowly made my way out of the plane and honestly, I felt like collapsing down and sleeping until my shaky breaths and grumbling stomach stopped. The air was chilly and the night was dull and dark when I stepped into the airport. I gently smiled and held the straps of my bag tightly as I walked down the escalator. Well that was an experience.
This wasn’t my experience. However, I had heard several incidents where people were scared to, should I say, their deaths while sitting on an aircraft. Thats why, I wrote this piece to all those people who are scared with flights. Trust me, no matter how big your fear is, you’ll make it through…..
With a bag of peanuts.
Thank you and keep reading,