I thought I was ready,  I’m not sure if I am. I was good, I felt good pretty much all day. I boarded the plane and found my seat. Everything was good, and then it wasn’t. Clutching my jacket and book, I closed my eyes and within minutes I could feel salty tears slowly sliding down my cheeks.

Crying is the last thing I want to be doing, but it’s happening, I’m crying, and I don’t know how to stop. I opt to keep my eyes closed, telling myself to calm down, shutting down my brain so it doesn’t have any dark or sad thoughts to hang on to as I attempt to clear my mind.

It’s a slippery slope. I’ve been here before. I know that if I don’t stop myself, I’ll just keep crying, and it will get ugly. My brain will dredge up all of the doubts and fears and mistakes and perceived failings and shortcomings. If I left my brain take over, I won’t stop crying until I’m completely spent, and I’ll end up in a funk that could last several days.

I’m on a very small plane, a Bombardier Q400 with propellers. I’m surrounded by people. I cannot give in to the crying.

I close my eyes harder and breathe deeper. A flight attendant has noticed and quietly offers Kleenex and water. If he has noticed, others probably have as well.

The tears keep coming and I try to hide my face by looking out my snow-covered window. I was hoping this flight would be different, that I would make it all the way home without a panic attack. I haven’t. All I can think about is how this is a mistake. I should have taken a train. Why do I humiliate myself like this?

It’s taken half of this 90-minute flight to calm down. I’m writing this on my phone hoping, nay, praying, that I’ll keep my brain distracted. I want this to be my last flight, my last humiliation, but at the same time, I don’t want it to be my last flight. I want my freedom back. 

Where Do I Go From Here?

I thought I was free. I had remained calm, optimistic even, during my seven hours inside Terminal 3 of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport airport, as well as through a 2-hour departure delay. Alas, panic decided to show up after all.

I have survived though, I was always going to survive. At the moment, it was my last flight, ever. Now, a day later, I am thinking of ways to curb the panic, ways to make avionic journies more comfortable and calm.

Do you have any tips? I welcome all the advice that will help me be an airline junkie once again!

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