Claustrophobia – sorted!

My name is Sarah and I am afraid of flying. Actually, that’s not true. I’m not afraid of flying, I’m claustrophobic. So being stuck inside a big metal cylinder in the sky is not ideal. Most of the time I’m fine, but I always like to be sure I can just open a door and walk out of a place if I want to, or open a window and stick my head out and get a bit of fresh air. And you can’t do that on a plane! So that pretty much makes me afraid of flying.

I’ve flown before, of course. Not that much. We’ve never been particularly adventurous types. My first flight was at the age of 15 on a school trip. I flew a few times over the next 10 years or so, including for work and a handful of holidays. We even went to Thailand on honeymoon. And I HATED those flights. I knew I would never fly that far again. I was sat next to an elderly lady (she had the aisle seat) who was asleep. I felt totally trapped and spent the majority of the flight desperate for the toilet.

We flew to Paris (for Disneyland, of course!) when my eldest was very nearly 3 (free flights – we’re not daft!) and I was rather pregnant with my younger son. I wasn’t much over half way, but I was MASSIVE (he was 9lb 3). My claustrophobia got much worse during that pregnancy. As the weeks went on, I used to feel I couldn’t breathe, and I had to walk outside to take a few deep breaths of fresh air. Possibly because of the size of me and the fact it was a very hot summer (remember those?), I really couldn’t breathe very well.

But the scene was set. From being slightly claustrophobic, I became properly claustrophobic.

But it was OK. Because I didn’t need to trap myself in a big metal cylinder in the sky. Or anything else, really.

Until the day when my sister-in-law announced she was getting married in Italy. You can read about that here  and here if you fancy a laugh. The whole thing was pretty much disastrous. Anyway, I digress. We considered driving, but in hindsight, it was a blimmin’ good job we didn’t (you need to look back on those old posts to really appreciate how crap it all was). We had to fly.

The thought of it made me panic. Not a proper panic attack, but my breathing changed and I had images in my head of me unable to get on a plane and totally freaking out. I could really feel the fear and the trip was months away.

Clearly, this needed addressing. A quick search online revealed that Paul McKenna had a hypnosis programme for claustrophobia. So we downloaded it and I started to hypnotise myself. And I genuinely believe it worked. I also had a low dose of diazepam from the doctor to just take the edge off my fear.

We’ve just got back from Barcelona and, in the run-up to our trip, I did it all again. Even three years later, I think I was feeling the effects of my earlier hypnosis. I couldn’t conjure up the same fear and vivid pictures in my head as I could do before I flew to Italy.

You need to do the hypnosis (or ‘mind programming technique’) every day for two weeks. You just lie down, relax and listen. He asks you to count down and to visualise certain things, but if you drift off it doesn’t matter, the subliminal messages are still getting to your brain. It is a weird feeling, but strangely enjoyable. Relaxing is not one of my strong points, in fact I don’t even LIKE relaxing (weird, I know), but it seemed to work. At the end he counts down and you just come back to life. It is quite remarkable.

There are also three little exercises to practice, so you can use them if you start to panic – breathing, acupuncture (you just tap different parts of your body) and a visualisation one. I struggle with the visualisation, but the tapping works brilliantly and the breathing is pretty good too. I downloaded the programme onto my phone in case I needed it for the flight and also wrote down the order of the tapping exercise so I could access it quickly if needed. And I didn’t need either of them!

The good news is, it really works! It’s a bit of a time commitment, but well worth it for me to arrive at the airport, get on a plane and get through a two hour flight happily and confidently. The only time I felt vaguely anxious was when I was in my seat, the plane was still on the ground and people were clogging up the aisle as they made their way to their seats. I felt trapped by them, but it soon passed. I even managed to use the toilet on the plane without worrying!

As an aside, the hypnosis seems to also help my general wellbeing. I usually feel a little bit stressed, worried or angry (sometimes all three!) most of the time. Yet after doing the mind programming just once, my mood had noticeably lightened and relaxed.

This is an unsponsored post. I am writing about it because it has genuinely worked for me. I hope it can work for others too.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Well done on conquering your fear! It must have been so hard to get on those flights when you were claustrophobic. It’s not that pleasant even when you’re not!

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  2. Wow, that’s really interesting. A friend of mine also has the claustrophobia that you speak of and she is terrified of flying, for that very reason. I will mention this to her. So glad you had a stress-free flight 🙂

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  3. I so need to use this! i fly on saturday and i hate it!! i cry for the whole duration!

    Thanks for linking up with #magicmoments

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  4. Aw glad it worked for you, I had hypnosis for a fear of take offs and it really worked. Hope you had a lovely time and thanks so much for your reassuring comment about school! Appreciate it xx

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  5. I read this on my phone earlier and I couldn’t comment then and have been itching to get to my laptop…Oh Sarah I have such a huge problem with flying. And I wonder if mine is around that feeling of claustrophobia too? I hate the thought of not being able to get out, and always wonder if I’ll be one of those people who freaks out and tries to open the door mid-air!!! You have been so brave and really taken control of it, so good on you! So good to read xx

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  6. Thanks very much, everyone. For anyone who is nervous, I really would recommend it! Having done the flight now I feel even better about it, like I could do it again!
    Dragonsfly – you sound exactly like me! I had just the same thoughts – could really picture myself freaking out and trying to open the door just for some fresh air!
    Sorry to hear flying makes you cry, Jaime! Maybe you should try something like this in future.
    Thanks for letting me know you appreciated my comment, Julia! I’ve been there three times. It’s horrible at first, but you soon get used to it.

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  7. I hate flying, i have to neck rescue remedy. Or gin.

    Hypnosis very interesting, i’ve seen the tapping thing on a prog i think and it worked wonders!

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  8. That’s brilliant! I did hypnobirthing (one on one) and was surprised at how easy it was “to go under” and how relaxed it made me feel. Does that mean the next holiday will involve a flight??

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  9. Thanks very much, everyone! I really would recommend it! The tapping is brilliant, Sarah, and you don’t even have to do the whole ‘mind programming’ thing for that to work. Well we’ve flown to Barcelona now, Franglaise Mummy, so the world is now our oyster! Hypnobirthing sounds great, but I don’t think I’ll have any need for that in future! 😉

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  10. What a great post Sarah – it’s absolutely fantastic you’ve been able to conquer this. It means you have a whole world of opportunities to explore now 🙂

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  11. Oh my comment didn’t post 🙁 I accidentally pressed the wrong button! Anyway I wanted to say big congrats for conquering the flying,I bet you were so chuffed xxx

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  12. Thanks very much, ladies! I’m feeling so proud of myself and so much more confident. For the first time since I was a teenager I’m looking forward to travelling more! x

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  13. Hi, I’ve been trying to find the Paul Mckenna hypnosis CD or download. Can anybody direct me the right direction please?

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    • It’s a few years since I bought my download, but it looks like it is still available on iTunes. Hope that helps!

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