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Barcelona, PHOTO: Sarah Lofgren

My First Flight on LORazepam

I hate flying. I hate flying so much that it has become a key component of my personality. Other people like bands or falling in love, or having an interesting job that they can tell people about. Not me. I just have terror and shakes and queasy tummy. My husband has permanent thumbprints in his arm from where I grip him during turbulence.

“It’s just turbulence,” he says.


Because lately, every time I step onto a plane, it feels like I’m supposed to make peace with my mortality. And I’m just not ready to be okay with dying. Being alive has been mostly great for me.

I know what the brave people are thinking. They’re thinking logically. They want to tell me the odds. Don’t tell me the odds, people. I know all the odds. Yes, the odds of dying in a plane crash are lower than the odds of dying on the way to the airport.

This does not help.

So today I’m flying on LORazepam. “This is the good stuff,” my doctor said when she prescribed it to me. “You’re going to like it. NO BOOZE! You will die. Also it’s extremely addictive, so use it for flying and nothing else.” LORazepam is an anti-anxiety medication that works well for situations like mine, events that occur every once in a while and not all the damn time.

I’ve been nervous for a month. Nervous about flying and nervous that the LORazepam won’t do its job and I’ll end up locked in a sky tube with tears streaming down my face. I am an ugly crier, so this scenario is not ideal.

I tested a half dose 3 days before the flight. (Don’t want any midair surprises!) All I felt was… a little lighter. A little less worried about my upcoming flight. Which was greatly appreciated.

So, the day of my flight(s) is here. The moment I’ve been dreading.

LORazepam is supposed to take 20–40 minutes to kick in, so I took it about 30 min before takeoff in Seattle.

It did not kick in on time. So, I did my whole song and dance routine where I make squeaking noises while trying to initiate eye contact with the flight attendants (a futile attempt to absorb some of their nonchalance into my body). (If I ever see a freaked out flight attendant, I will probably lose my shit). (Actually that happened once, above Tokyo.) (I lost my shit.) (It wasn’t pretty.) ( :cry: )

An hour after I took the pill, I started to feel calmer. I still had symptoms of hyper vigilance, but the freak out factor was much lower. I put on my headphones and spent some time with my “chill out” playlist. It… wasn’t the worst.

I did expect LORazepam to knock me out a bit, but I was awake and alert for the full flight (despite operating on maybe 2 hours of sleep).

I also expected to maybe have some goofy behavior to tell you guys about, some drugged exploits to make you laugh. But I was so normal, you wouldn’t even believe it. I think the person sitting next to me even mistook me for a normie.

Which, when you think about it, is a little weird.

The first leg of my flight was from Seattle to Newark, about 4.5 hours. Now I’m sitting in a lounge in Newark eating free cheese and writing this article. The effects of the pill are still going strong, so I’m extremely zen for someone who is about to step inside what could at any moment become a flaming death trap and drop my charred corpse into the ocean.

Ahead of me is a 7 hour flight and a 2 hour flight. I’m basically Frodo walking into Mordor and, like Frodo, I will prevail with the help of my tiny little happy pills.

Update 4/17/19: This article has been getting some serious google juice over the last year and a number of people have reached out to let me know about their own fears. Typically they also want to know if I’ve flown again since this post and if the pills continued to work for me. So, here’s a quick update on my situation.

I have taken a few domestic flights and I’ve used LORazepam each time. It takes about an hour to kick in. Flying is easier! It’s not perfect. I still get nervous with bad turbulence, but I don’t get full-blown panic attacks. I know everyone’s body responds to medication differently, but I’ve been able to relax a little and flying isn’t quite as big a deal as it once was.

Thanks for reading! I’m a freelance wordsmith living in Seattle and I love writing humorous articles about modern life, social media, creativity, and more. If you liked this post, please consider signing up for my newsletter! (I promise not to spam you.)

Engaged in inadvisable wordsmitheries and other creative acts.

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