Panic, Planes and Perth

I know you all want to know.
So let me tell something about me and planes.
We don't go so well together.
Let me take a deep breath and I will explain (and a gulp of champers too while I am at it).

As you all know we had a wedding in Perth on Saturday. David was in the wedding because it was the wedding of one of his best mates. Someone he grew up with. We wouldn't have missed the wedding for the world. The wedding itself was beautiful. They make a gorgeous couple and we are really happy for them.

Now. Neither David or I have ever flown in a plane before. Correction. David has been in a little plane, but nothing like the normal big planes.
I barely slept Friday night and to be honest, had been a bundle of nerves all week. I had barely eaten or slept all week. It wasn't just because of the plane trip. I was also leaving the boys for the first time (well Braeden for the first time ever, and Ryley for the first time in 5 years).
Everything was going fine, the take off was pretty cool. The gradual build up of altitude was also ok.
Then we reached our top altitude and the plane was just cruising along.
I started to feel strange.
It started with my legs.
They started tingling. It kind of felt like adrenalin mixed with pins and needles and it was running through my legs at a speed that I couldn't control.
Then my arms started. And my body. My head was dizzy and I felt like I was going to both pass out and vomit at the same time.
I couldn't breath.
I clung to David's arm and just barely whispered "Something's wrong".
This went on for around 1/2 an hour before I pulled an air hostess aside and told her what I was feeling.
She was great (full points for Virgin Blue).
She brought me some biscuits, made me eat a bit, made me drink some water and talked to me.
It took nearly another hour for me to calm down fully, but I did calm down.
It was a panic attack and it was fucken awful.

If you haven't ever experienced a panic attack before, it is very very hard to try and explain what it feels like. To lose total control of your body while knowing full well that it is your mind that is controlling everything is frightening. No matter what I tried, I simply couldn't stop my body from shaking and feeling out of control.

I couldn't stop crying when I got off the plane. I was a complete and utter mess. I had no idea how I was going to get back on the plane to go home the next day and it filled me with an unbelievable fear.

For the whole day and night I was a mess. I couldn't eat, yet I was so weak from not eating that it was making everything worse. I was tired too. Exhausted in fact.
You know what else I did? I got on the internet and looked for alternative ways to get home so I didn't have to get back on the plane. Did you know that to hire a car to drive from Perth to Melbourne, it costs a bit over $1100. That's just for the hire bit. Not including the fuel and the motels. It costs $770 for the train from Perth to Adelaide. If I caught the train I would have had to leave Perth Sunday. I would have got to Adelaide on Wednesday. Then I would have had to get from Adelaide to Ballarat. So I was out of alternative options.

You know the one thing that made me get on that plane to get home?
Yeah, you're right.
My kids.
I couldn't bare to not arrive home on Sunday when I told them I would be home.
That was the only reason I managed to physically walk onto the plane.
I knew that every minute I was on that plane, I was a minute closer to seeing my kids.
And you know what?
I was actually ok on the way home.
Rescue Remedy is my new best friend, but hey it helped convince my mind that everything was ok, so I don't care!

I have never been so glad to be in Melbourne before though.
I do want to make mention of some people who helped me.
Jen. It meant so much to have someone to talk to when I was a bawling mess. Thankyou for understanding.
Petra, Mum & Dad. They took such great care of my boys, despite my troubleshooting guide leaving off the one tiny thing that didn't go to plan. Their words of comfort also helped me.
Rocca, Simon, Kerrie. Good to have friends around me when I really needed them! You guys really helped me, even though you might not have known it! PS. Thanks for the beer Roc!

The bottom line is that I survived. I enjoyed the wedding. I did leave early because I was just too exhausted to stay. David had a great time too.

We will go back to Perth next year I think. But guess what?
We will be DRIVING!!!!


  1. This is how we feel the most alive, get to know ourselves to the very core and GROW, becoming more than we were. I think the bravest thing you did was leave your kids, not because you didn't feel they were safe but I just know that feeling. I did it in the past, remember sitting in the plane taking off and wanted to break the window and free fall back to earth. Never doing that again. (never say never?).
    Good that you could enjoy the wedding, that's also a testament to your fortitude.



  3. Ugh. I've been flying since I was a child, but you know what? I still hate it. Haven't had a panic attack or anything like that, but it just never sits all that well. Btw, Virgin has the BEST flight attendants. :-)

  4. Well, good for you for going through with it! Total bummer about the panic attack, but you know what? You did the very best thing by getting back on that plane, obviously there was a massive incentive at the other end but one VERY IMPORTANT thing about living with PA's is too not avoid situations because in turn you are feeding the beast (PA's) by the negative and fearful me I KNOW TOOOOOOO WELL...unfortunately : (
    I hope this is the only PA you EVER have but if you feel you need a bit more understanding on them (like i did), go to your library and borrow the book by Bev Aisbett called Living With "IT"... it's a small book full of daggy cartoons but it totally spells it out for you in the simplest form. Not all of it related to me but it helped me understand what was happening more than a psychologist did!!
    We can talk more about it if you need....perhaps IKEA isn't the best place for talking about it though LOL!!!!

  5. Oh anna.... Im sorry the flight was not enjoyable for you... I can not imagine how you feel. Glad you had great people to support you and calm you down. Im glad you enjoyed the wedding!!

  6. Oh Anna I am so sorry you had such a rough time! Panic attacks are no fun! I think your plan to drive next time is a good idea :)

  7. Eric-Thank you for your kind words. I know that I will grow from this experience. Bit hard not to! I don't think I will be leaving my kids for a very very long time!
    Alison-It is reassuring to know that it isn't just me that this has happened to. But awful to hear that other people go through this too.
    Becca- I was looking at the kids on the flight and they were all so calm! Put me to shame!!
    Liv- I have had one other PA before that I can remember and it was when I was about 9 years old. I hope I never have one again either. Will definitely talk with you more. Thanks for the book recommendation. We really need to catch up. Long overdue.
    Mel-Thanks! The wedding was lovely and I did relax a bit, if not for very long!
    Angela- I will definitely be driving next time! I feel way more comfortable being close to the earth!!!

  8. I'm so sorry! What a horrible feeling!! I'm happy the return flight was better.

    Driving is more of an adventure anyway! :-)


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