Claustrophobic Traveler

Airplanes scare me. I am not afraid of heights but I am afraid of tight spaces. I am claustrophobic. My gut scrambles like an egg in a pan. My throat is dry and I cannot stand the smell of the airplane’s atmosphere. I take a Dramamine so I can cope with not only the side effects of claustrophobia but the wave of envy I feel for the happy travelers with a bucket list full of places they hope to one day see. 

You are probably asking why I am so terrified of being inside a plane. As a child, I loved going on planes since they always took me to the happiest place on Earth aka Disney World.  My phobia arose when I was going to visit the sunny state of California where I would begin a road trip through the west coast of the United States. Going to California from Puerto Rico, it required to be in an airplane for many hours.

As the plane flew above Las Vegas, my body felt exhausted. Suddenly, I felt nauseous and I was (still am) very afraid of puking. My hands were shivering and my face went pale. Flight attendants rushed to hand me a plastic bag and a Pepto-Bismol. I felt the airplane become smaller and I was gasping for air. These unwelcome side effects traumatized me and after what seemed like forever, the flight ended but I was already thinking about the flight back home to Puerto Rico and how stressful it would be after this traumatizing experience. I had engraved in my brain that I could no longer travel freely.

I am angry at myself for letting my fears, at times, get in the way of me living my life and it happens with many aspects of my life, which we can talk about in another occasion. I do not want to be known as a frustrated traveler.

I want to travel and see places. I want to go to Europe and Asia but I am afraid that the Dramamine will wear off and I am going to have to face the reality of my fear. The claustrophobia that lingers inside me for hours is forgotten when my eyesight focuses at the most gorgeous views and I am grateful to have the opportunity to experience them. The anxiety and panic attacks that I once faced disappear and I am faced with the beauty that the world has to offer. 

I have been to Mexico, Canada and a few states in the United States but I feel like I have not actual memory of them since they are taken away by my fear of tight spaces. Yet, the stunning Niagara Falls or the striking Grand Canyon seen to dwell in my memory even after the distress that travelling causes. They linger in my memory as spectacular art pieces painted by Mother Nature herself. I am so blessed to be even able to have a passport and step a foot inside an airplane. As I work on my fear, I hope I could go back to the places I once visited and once again, take in the beauty and take it in completely, the right way without terror.