Phobia

This might be one of the more personal blog posts I’ve written, so don’t be surprised if I delete it! I have a small confession to make.

Back in 2000 I travelled to Prague. Prior to the visit I had been to Holland on several occasions, France and Barcelona. It was my first coach holiday and the overland journey from Lancashire to the Czech Republic was arduous. I think I estimated it was 42 hours front door to hotel.

What surprised me was the heightened level of anxiety on the way to the coach station and I reached a point where I was hoping I’d miss the coach. Once on the coach the fear evaporated almost instantly and I had a tremendous holiday.

It was so good I booked another one when I got home. And a coach tour to Austria. And told everyone where I was going. . . .

A couple of months before the second Prague trip the anxiety started to kick in again and this time it wouldn’t stop. Anyone with a real phobia will know how debilitating the condition can be. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t think straight. Every waking moment seemed to be on the trip and some inexplicable terror waiting for me.

With about a week to go I cancelled everything: hotel, flights; lost about £500. I cancelled the Austria trip and lost a couple of hundred quid there too. And since then I haven’t booked another foreign trip.

I’ve wanted to travel to Europe for over fifteen years and this ridiculous phobia has clobbered me every time. Even now I can stand still in the evening and scare myself just by thinking ‘I’m going abroad tomorrow.’ But now I want to do something about it.

In June and July Helene Fischer will be on tour in Germany and I desperately desperately want to see her live. Tickets are from 75 euros upwards, return flight about £150, hotel costs about £350. But it’s not about losing the money, I couldn’t care less about the money. If I could get there I could get to Paris and Vienna and Monaco and Valencia and Budapest and Bamberg and Klontalersee, the Italian Lakes, the Bavarian Alps, the Norwegian fjords. (Not all at once obviously.)

I’m not scared of flying. I love flying. It doesn’t bother me not being understood; I get that all the time in England. Lost abroad, someone will help; ill, medical insurance. There’s nothing rational or real stopping me from travelling.

Transformation weekend? I’m going to buy a ticket. Haven’t decided which venue yet, but the Olympic Stadium in Munich would be spectacular and there are a lot of hotels around the Olympic Park. Nuremberg would be good for a day in Bamberg 30km away. (Getting ambitious now, but I know once I’m there I’d be okay.)

Helene Fischer in Vienna, 2015

If in June or July you read a review of Helene Fischer live you’ll know it started here. I might even keep a running commentary going. It all sounds very self-indulgent, but who knows, there might be others who suffer a similar phobia, or others who might have overcome theirs. If I don’t do something about it I know I’ll regret it one day.

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21 thoughts on “Phobia

  1. I know phobias aren’t logical but I wonder what could have triggered this one, originally? Is the panic only triggered when thinking about going to Europe or does it happen within the UK as well?

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    1. The original panic took me by surprise. Before that I’d travelled to France with a friend, on my own to The Hague and with a group to Amsterdam and Barcelona. Why it started on that trip to Prague I’ve no idea, but it seems to be a response to that original severe anxiety that affects me now.

      And yes, it only affects me travelling to Europe. Going on holidy in the UK doesn’t bother me at all. I was away for ten days a couple of weeks ago. I need to associate Europe with the feelings of those home grown holidays.

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      1. Ugh, I hope you manage to overcome that anxiety when it comes to Europe. 😦
        I’m not sure whether I’m phobic about plane travel or not, but I had a very scary flight about 15 years ago and I haven’t flown since. I guess I’m a bit leery of finding out. But if I were phobic as I suspect, it would be because it was a smallish plane and went through about 2 hours of bone rattling turbulence.
        If you experienced something of the sort as well, maybe booking with one of the large airplanes might help.

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        1. It should be a decent sized aeroplane. When I flew back from Holland once the landing was so hard we thought the undercarriage had come off. And I saw the wings shaking about when we were coming in from Barcelona in bad weather. But what can you do? Lap of the gods and all that.

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  2. I’m kind of a reluctant traveller too, but it’s not a phobia, just a combination of laziness and “what if-ing.” Is it travelling alone that makes you anxious? Would going with a friend or group be easier, or just complicate things? I do hope you go — and have a great time!

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    1. I don’t know if travelling with someone might make things easier. Definitely not group. The anxiety, when it hapened going to Prague stopped once I was on the coach, so I don’t if travelling with someone would help or not. The anxiety is in the weeks leading up to departure.

      I might not get there at this rate: flights from Manchester to Dusseldorf and Berlin are a right royal pain in the backside. Some of them go via Pisa and Munich!

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  3. Panicking about panicking? This happened to a friend of mine who couldn’t leave our office and walk around the hospital. I used to encourage her to walk with me if I had to go to another department, and she would always have a carrier bag handy. When I asked her why the carrier bag, she replied it was in case she panicked and threw up. I asked her what she was panicking about, and it appeared she was panicking about panicking. Maybe the same thing with your phobia? Afraid of the unknown or leaving your comfort zone? It’s a thought…

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    1. It’s a typical phobia. There’s no tangible threat it’s the anxiety. I’m trying to associate the travelling with something positive rather than letting the thought be connected to the fear. But it’s clearly a fear of the fear, nothing more, nothing less. Most annoying.

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      1. Think how great you’ll feel when you get to the concert and realise you’ve conquered the phobia. I had a phobia of confined spaces. After 30 sessions of radiotherapy wearing a face mask inside a tomography machine I think I’ve beaten it at last. Best to face it head on and nail it.

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      2. I know someone with a phobia of buttons, and another one with a phobia of baked beans! It’s really strange what affects people. A shrink would probably come up with the idea of an event in childhood where it all kicks off…

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          1. As a kid I remember feeling anxious when travelling with my parents, and always wanted to know how many miles away from home I was. Perhaps it’s just that you’re a homebody like I am? I don’t intend travelling further than our holiday home on the Isle of Wight for the next few years!

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            1. It’s easy to get used to the comforts of home and it takes a lot of effort to break out of that feeling. We never went on holiday abroad when I was a kid, but I don’t think that’s behind the phobia. Anyway. . .

              I’ve just booked the ticket for the concert in Dusseldorf. 6th July.

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