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Phil19

Want to fly but my ocd stops me?

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I have previously flew to places like Barcelona however my ocd stops me flying and often I have a fear of long haul or long travel even train. I often like to break a journey up. I have become obsessed with going to New York I can picture it, see what I would do imagine it all but 7 and a half hours makes me worry I will go crazy or not be able to eat plane food or cope with the time zone. That’s why I considered breaking the journey up and stopping in Iceland and flying back to London but the cost is double and likely about a grand. I also want to do Rome but by rail having previously done Italy by train problem again is cost. I can fly but I only fly when it feels “right to” this is now my anxiety measures it. Has anybody else found this? I have began travelling Europe in past two years but fear my ocd with long journeys could stop me fully being able to go everywhere. Perhaps I am being too ambitious and perhaps I should be grateful I have been to many more places than others. But I am obsessed with goals right now have a family yes or no drive again yes or no and travel long haul yes no I just don’t know what I should do?

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Fear of flying is treatable like any other phobia or obsession using good old faithful CBT. 

As always, it's a gradual process. 

I would say that right now you have too much else going on to tackle this, so I suggest setting it as a goal for the future not the present. 

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8 hours ago, Phil19 said:

I can fly but I only fly when it feels “right to” this is now my anxiety measures it.

This is the OCD at work, best thing you can do is make a plan, take a trip and ignore whether it feels "right to" or not.  Pushing through and doing things even when you feel the doubt of OCD is how you overcome OCD.  I used to be terrified of long distance travel by car/bus/train/plane because of some of my OCD anxieties.  I could do it but it was very stressful and unpleasant and I avoided it when I could.  I had compulsions I would do to try and handle the anxiety too.  I always had to sit in the aisle, for example, that way I could "get out" if I needed to.  Over time I challenged these limits, pushed myself to use transit more, basically ERP, and now?  I take a trans-Pacific flight at least once a year, in addition to other shorter flights in East Asia.  I used to commute by absolutely packed train everyday.  I regularly take the train/subway to get around my current city (Tokyo).  I no longer have to sit on the aisle (for those long flights I like the window better, something to lean against, a little more arm room, etc.).  It took doing it even when I was nervous, doing it even when I didn't feel "right", pushing past those limits OCD was trying to place on me.  Its tough, it took years to get there for me (flying a long trip isn't something you can do daily for exposure after all) but I got there.  You can too, you just gotta do it.
 

8 hours ago, Phil19 said:

but 7 and a half hours makes me worry I will go crazy or not be able to eat plane food or cope with the time zone.

These are all OCD fueled worries, worries that are vastly exaggerated in your mind right now.  Odds are nothing specifically interesting will happen on your flight.  I mean, if you can't eat the plane food, you'll get to New York and be a little hungry.  Humans can go for days without food and live, in that case even if the event happens, you'll survive it without problem.  Flying 7 1/2 hours in economy isn't the greatest experience in the world, sure, but millions of people do it every day, you can too!
 

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8 hours ago, seekingERPnorthwest said:

How old are you? If you don't meet your travel ambitions right now those places will still be there another time. 

I’m 30 but since around 28 I have had a travel goal to see as much as possible :/

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6 hours ago, dksea said:

This is the OCD at work, best thing you can do is make a plan, take a trip and ignore whether it feels "right to" or not.  Pushing through and doing things even when you feel the doubt of OCD is how you overcome OCD.  I used to be terrified of long distance travel by car/bus/train/plane because of some of my OCD anxieties.  I could do it but it was very stressful and unpleasant and I avoided it when I could.  I had compulsions I would do to try and handle the anxiety too.  I always had to sit in the aisle, for example, that way I could "get out" if I needed to.  Over time I challenged these limits, pushed myself to use transit more, basically ERP, and now?  I take a trans-Pacific flight at least once a year, in addition to other shorter flights in East Asia.  I used to commute by absolutely packed train everyday.  I regularly take the train/subway to get around my current city (Tokyo).  I no longer have to sit on the aisle (for those long flights I like the window better, something to lean against, a little more arm room, etc.).  It took doing it even when I was nervous, doing it even when I didn't feel "right", pushing past those limits OCD was trying to place on me.  Its tough, it took years to get there for me (flying a long trip isn't something you can do daily for exposure after all) but I got there.  You can too, you just gotta do it.
 

These are all OCD fueled worries, worries that are vastly exaggerated in your mind right now.  Odds are nothing specifically interesting will happen on your flight.  I mean, if you can't eat the plane food, you'll get to New York and be a little hungry.  Humans can go for days without food and live, in that case even if the event happens, you'll survive it without problem.  Flying 7 1/2 hours in economy isn't the greatest experience in the world, sure, but millions of people do it every day, you can too!
 

Cool I get that I actually prefer a window seat over the isle that’s my ocd. Millions do it but I can’t get my head round how. When it’s something new it’s always going to worry me more. I did 4 hours to Switzerland by train and I felt restless how would I feel doing even longer by plane? My therapist says right now might not be the time to do this holiday but perhaps if I did just book it and let my partner take control I would go? 

I mean there is some amazing places I can go either by train or flying. Poland looks great but I have become obsessed with city breaks and I have decided no other city can match New York as it’s the city that never sleeps?

I feel I should consider changing planes on the way over at least. I mean I may never go to New York but it’s not a financial issue I can do it. I mean I did Italy by train this year after spending about a year worrying over how I would manage it. It certainly felt bigger achievement doing it after spending so long worrying.

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The fact that you can, of course, do these things just proves how wasteful our loss of time is to OCD. 

It's also why ERP is so necessary and effective. But it needs to be done in a controlled achievable way or we can get swamped and take a step backwards. 

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23 minutes ago, taurean said:

The fact that you can, of course, do these things just proves how wasteful our loss of time is to OCD. 

It's also why ERP is so necessary and effective. But it needs to be done in a controlled achievable way or we can get swamped and take a step backwards. 

My anxiety has held me back doing stuff for years everything has to feel “just right”. The good news is I often eventually do things but sometimes it takes a long time. For some people flying long haul is very easy for me it’s very difficult. 

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The ERP needs to challenge the "need" for everything to be just right. 

From what you now know of OCD, can you see how incorrect and worthless that OCD core belief is?

Look for the adverse consequence the OCD is peddling viz "everything must be just right or....." 

This is magical thinking OCD. What is the consequence it makes you fear, Phil? That's what you need to challenge. 

Edited by taurean

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38 minutes ago, taurean said:

The ERP needs to challenge the "need" for everything to be just right. 

From what you now know of OCD, can you see how incorrect and worthless that OCD core belief is?

Look for the adverse consequence the OCD is peddling viz "everything must be just right or....." 

This is magical thinking OCD. What is the consequence it makes you fear, Phil? That's what you need to challenge. 

Yes I wouldn’t fly during the upcoming honeymoon as it never felt right. The news about those Max planes put me off indefinitely about flying. I hate the fact you can’t get off a plane where as a train there is always the next stop. I found getting the plane easier before I got the train as it was the only option. Now I put myself through long journeys which also causes me ocd. I tried to tell myself Poland would be nice and that’s somewhere I can only really fly to but I have delayed going until I find courage and it feels just right so it could be weeks months or years 

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But what is the underlying threat? What has to fell just right, and why?  

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14 minutes ago, taurean said:

But what is the underlying threat? What has to fell just right, and why?  

Not sure really it’s  like a notion for something I have to feel upto it. It has to be at a time that feels right it’s hard to explain. When I flew in the past I just decided to do it and booked it problem is I often worried so much I booked it days before and paid more money..

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Well Phil, if you want to tackle this you need to dig deeper to find out why OCD is really stopping you, what has to feel right. 

Because it.s only what your brain is telling you that is stopping you - there isn't any real reason, is there?

 

Edited by taurean

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6 minutes ago, taurean said:

Well Phil, if you want to tackle this you need to dig deeper to find out why OCD is really stopping you, what has to feel right. 

Because it.s only what your brain is telling you that is stopping you - there isn't any real reason, is there?

 

Perhaps some superstition themes are involved but I’m unsure what else. I mean in the ideal world I like travelling financiers permitting I could keep travelling to a wider range of places with no fear of flying. A short flight to Dublin is 50% less anxious than a flight to say Germany. That said I’ve not been in Ireland in two years.

I went 4 years or so not flying and only going by train until I decided I really wanted to visit that place so in the end I went.

Avoiding places helps however it does bug me now and again as there is some places easier to reach by plane but I can’t find that courage to go. I have told myself I will fly after the wedding but I don’t know where. It really should be a goal to fly again. I fear New York is beyond me at the moment though?

Edited by Phil19

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Yes the big apple would be too far right now. 

I reckon you need to draw up an exposure plan and gradually chip away at your  list of triggers until each no longer invokes anxiety. 

Avoidance is a compulsion, so look not to let it be a hindrance other than genuine safety concerns. 

An example. 

As a teenager I had an obsession and compulsion involving a mental arithmetic ritual. 

I didn't have to do the ritual, there was no (magical thinking) threat to be unleashed if I didn't. 

But I "felt better" if I did complete it. 

Now I didn't know that this was OCD at the time; however, fortunately I did work out that the ritual was a totally pointless waste of time so cut it out. 

There were no repercussions, as there had been no threat. I could just stop it. And I did. 

Edited by taurean

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Bring your own food on the plane, it's allowed. They serve drinks from cans or bottles too. They have video screens so you can choose films to watch.

Go see the Statue of Liberty, its beautiful. Technically its located in NJ, but NY is close enough.

Many people have the uncertainty of flying but that's easily changed by getting information on flying.

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28 minutes ago, taurean said:

Yes the big apple would be too far right now. 

I reckon you need to draw up an exposure plan and gradually chip away at your  list of triggers until each no longer invokes anxiety. 

Avoidance is a compulsion, so look not to let it be a hindrance other than genuine safety concerns. 

An example. 

As a teenager I had an obsession and compulsion involving a mental arithmetic ritual. 

I didn't have to do the ritual, there was no (magical thinking) threat to be unleashed if I didn't. 

But I "felt better" if I did complete it. 

Now I didn't know that this was OCD at the time; however, fortunately I did work out that the ritual was a totally pointless waste of time so cut it out. 

There were no repercussions, as there had been no threat. I could just stop it. And I did. 

I can take this way back to my youth days when there was like something happened with trains on the news I avoided them for years. So when it’s such a deep routed issue I feel I need to continue with my therapy a bit longer. I realise it’s not healthy to live my life with a temperate gage on what level my anxiety is today. Sadly I am like this even a trip to the cinema can cause anxiety. 

Last night I worried if I went into the town I would go crazy. I worried if I got that train I was going mad but I got the train and I was ok but still felt some anxiety. 

In the past I had spells where I never had this anxiety. Obviously I want to get back there I am unsure if it’s a travel anxiety, general anxiety, ocd, uncertainty whatever it is it stops me doing stuff. 

One time I was so worried I said to myself I don’t fly this time I may never fly ever again so I booked the flight as a sort of exposure. I booked another later in the year but before long I soon decide the next flight is my last for a while. I can’t explain what’s going on in my head.

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I have become obsessed with New York I keep checking flight trackers and webcams on New York and worry any other city won’t come close. I have been googling travelling all day I mean I know it’s good to take my mind off ocd but I fear my travelling has become a bit of an ocd in itself how can I relax and perhaps just enjoy being at home? 

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You tell us Phil. 

You know what you should be doing, and not that. 

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16 hours ago, Phil19 said:

Millions do it but I can’t get my head round how.

This is a recurring topic in your threads, this need to 'get your head around" things in order to move on/move forward.  While learning and understanding can be laudable goals, the reality is, in a most circumstances, you don't have to understand, you just have to do.  
You don't need to "get your head around" how other people can fly with out the same troubles you do in order to fly, for a few reasons:

  1. Many people who fly DO have problems.  Just because they don't wear a sign that says "I'm freaking out right now inside" doesn't mean they aren't just as nervous as you are :)
  2. Whether or not you get your head around it doesn't change what you have to do.  Flying or not flying is a decision you make, it takes zero understanding on your part to actually do it.
  3. You'll never be able to know with 100% certainty how you will handle a situation until you are actually in that situation.  You can guess, you can speculate, but at some point you just have to do it.  You can read books about bicycles, study the mechanics and physics of bicycles, imagine riding a bicycle, but until you ACTUALLY get on and learn to ride a bicycle its all just ideas.
  4. Maybe you'll get restless, maybe you'll get anxious, hell maybe you'll have a full on panic attack on the plane, it'll have to land early and you'll be thoroughly embarrassed.  While that would be unfortunate, the thing is the world will go right on spinning, your life will continue too.  There are infinite possibilities of what MIGHT happen, you can't possibly even account for them all, plan for them all, you just have to make a choice and then do your best.

 

16 hours ago, Phil19 said:

My therapist says right now might not be the time to do this holiday

Thats also fair, it might not be right for you at this time depending on your recovery.  Its good to stretch ourselves but its also good to not go too far.  Recovery from OCD is a marathon, not a sprint, you don't have to solve all the problems all at once.  You very likely won't be able to anyway.
 

16 hours ago, Phil19 said:

Poland looks great but I have become obsessed with city breaks and I have decided no other city can match New York as it’s the city that never sleeps?

This sounds like another line of perfectionist/OCD thinking that you should work on.  New York is a great city, I've been there once.  I've also been to Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Melbourne, etc.  Each city is unique, each has things to offer that the others don't, and you can enjoy your time in each one.  I've liked some more than others, and other peoples preferences are opposite of mine.

Back when I was in university I met a real great girl, we hit it off, there was absolute chemistry.  But part of me kept holding back, not wanting to fully commit because I was still hung up on my previous relationship.  Rather than appreciate the opportunity in front of me now, I kept wondering about another opportunity, one that wasn't even really an option at that point (as hard as it was to admit to myself).  And of course, the new girl eventually moved on, so I lost out.  Point being, if you focus only on some idealized specific situation, you'll miss out on the ACTUAL opportunities around you, opportunities that might end up being even better than what you THOUGHT the one opportunity could be.

Someday you may have the opportunity to go to New York, you may love it, it may become your favorite city in the world, and if so, great!  But what if you wait and plan all that time, you go and its only ok? Or not fun at all?  Is it worth it to avoid enjoying all these OTHER cities in the mean time?  No!  If New York is an option and you want to go to New York, sure, by all means enjoy New York, it has a lot to offer.  But Europe has a lot to offer too!  Each city is unique and special and can be enjoyed for its own charms. 

Focus less on achieving the "perfect" situation, because its an impossible goal, and focus more on finding the enjoyment you can in the situations that are all around you.  You'll be happier that way.

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N. B. I lived 44 years in London, and it was a great experience. 

I have not been to New York, but I have done a lot of business with New York. 

I have been to Paris a few times. 

I think pretty well all major global cities now are ones "that never sleep". And that wouldn't be my pick of a key feature anyway. 

Does it bother me I haven't been to Rome, Budapest, Chicago et Al? 

Nope. At my age I do my major travelling via TV and film and it suits me just fine. 

Dksea's post sums things up spot on. 

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So perhaps the ocd isn’t the issue over all maybe I just dislike long haul flights I mean I know tons of people who don’t fly. About 2 years ago I had no interest in travelling so it’s all new to me now I’ve went to more and more places I am in a new situation because I would say I was more one for staying at home which is difficult if you are a homebody type of person? But you are correct stuff can be seen on tv and perhaps that is just fine. I have used the travelling as a distraction for my ocd but at the same time it can fuel my ocd with long flights and trains and worry over food Ect.

So what can I say? Well I am off to Germany and Belgium on my honeymoon so the travelling continues but not quite NYC. Perhaps I should be grateful I am going away but it’s a difficult one when you are not the type of person who likes long haul. My parents and sister and brother all fly to the US long haul so I am surprised I can’t too?

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Enjoy your honeymoon. If you decide to organise some treatment when you get back I reckon you will be able to talk to the therapist about your goals & they will help you with realistic ones in the short term. And if that goes well, you'll be able to progress and meet even more of your ambitions in future. 

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