I was six weeks old when I took my first flight from New York City to Kingston, Jamaica. I remember is spending a lot of time during my childhood hopping on planes between Jamaica, New York City and South Florida. I took countless flights and collected multiple stamps on my first passport.
To celebrate my graduation from medical school, I went to Jamaica to relax and spend time with my family. On my return flight the captain announced we were flying through thunderstorms and may experience some turbulence.
Some? Before I knew it the plane started shifting from side to side, the lights were flashing on and off, the oxygen masks had fallen down and dinner trays were sliding into the aisles. Flight attendants stepped over the trays, trying to get to their seats in the back of the plane.
I promised God that if I returned home safely I would never need to fly again. We did make it home safely. I attended my graduation and became Dr.Nadeen White. I kept my promise to God for two years.
I had developed a true fear of flying. The sounds or sights of airplanes flying above gave me shivers. The problem with all this was that I loved to travel. My mother was a globetrotter and passed that gene onto me. In order to visit friends and family I drove, took buses and the train. And I was limited to travel along the eastern corridor.
After a 21 hour train ride from South Florida to Northern Virginia I knew something had to change. I had to find a way to overcome my fear of flying to start seeing the world again.
Initially, I tried relaxation techniques, taking Benadryl before a flight and having a drink during the flight. None of these techniques worked, but I was flying again. I finally shared my fear of flying with my doctor who prescribed an anti-anxiety medication. This medication had changed my life for the better. It allowed me to more effectively use my relaxation techniques and get on long flights to places such as Athens, Greece and a return trip to Hawaii. Over time, I have been able to take less or no medication.
Do I still get nervous before flights? Yes. Do I instantly wake up with anxiety whenever we hit bad turbulence? Yes. Do I wear headphones or ear plugs to block out the sounds of the engines? Yes. Do I look around to see if anyone else is in a panic? Yes.
As a travel blogger and someone who is constantly in flight and sharing my experiences on my blog The Sophisticated Life, people are often shocked to find out about my fear of flying.
My response? I refuse to let a fear of anything prevent me from seeing the world.