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I have an extreme anxiety problem about going on a plane for our upcoming vacation. Last time almost seven months ago we, my husband, two children and myself were booked for a vacation. We were at the airport in the waiting lounge for the plane to arrive. The kids were so excited and I was getting more and more anxious by the second. The plane finally arrived and boarding began. As we neared the entrance to the plane I became extremely distraught to the point I could not put my foot onto the plane. I shook, turned away, and just could not bring myself to go. Needless to say my children were very upset and my husband was more than a little upset with me and the loss of thousands of dollars because of my anxiety. That was then, and now I have agreed to try it again. We bought the tickets and our kids are all excited again. I had a few counselling sessions and thought I could do this but that old anxiety is creeping in again and as we get nearer the date I am getting more anxious again. My biggest fear is that the plane will crash and we will all be dead. I feel totally sick inside and find I am starting to become anxious about other things now which never affected me before. I am a bundle of nerves. My doctor want to put me on anti-depressants, but I am unsure. Is there another way I can get help?

Signed, Terrified Anxiety

Dear Terrified,

Yes, in my opinion anti-depressants are a last resort. Try everything else first. In addressing your thought processes you will find you can decrease or even eliminate your anxiety over flying. Begin to prepare yourself for the plane. 

Know that flying is safe. You’re more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the airport than on the plane. Statistics show you are 500-1000 times more likely to die in a car crash. You may say that you are in control of the car and not the plane so it is different. Think again. You are not in control of the other cars on the road and can easily be in that accident caused by another driver. It’s very likely that the thousands of people who die each year in a car accident is not because they had control over the situation. Therefore your chances of getting to your destination on a plane are pretty good.

Know what to expect by familiarizing yourself with the sights and sounds of flying. Understand the bumps, movements and turbulence of a plane. Talk to friends who have flown and who love to travel, and how they deal with this. is a great website loaded with content about flying. You can even listen to the sounds of every aspect of flying. 

For me, when it gets a little bumpy, I just pretend I am on a bus. Close your eyes and visualize you’re on a bus. Turbulence resembles a bumpy road. 

Once on the plane I open the cool air valve above my head and point it at my face. Breathing the fresh cool air really helps to calm the nerves and reduce sweating. Have a drink or two on the plane. However, remember 1-2 is good enough to calm the nerves. Drinking alcohol in the air hits you much faster so caution in this department.

If there is simply no way to get around your fears, and thoughts of canceling your flight flash in your head, go see your doctor. Explain your fear and ask for a light sedative such as Xanax.

These pills come in .25 .5, and 1 mg doses. Depending on your size, you and your doctor will decide what dosage is best for you. Since you very likely have not taken this medication before probably .25 will work fine to ease your anxiety. After all you don’t want to be knocked out. Be careful not to take it too early before boarding or it could put you to sleep and you could miss your plane.

If you give into your fear of flying you will miss out on experiencing what the world has to offer, the culture, food, smells, ocean, sun and sand, architecture, ancient ruins, and so on. Work at your desire to explore the world. It will overpower your fear of rising above the clouds. The confidence and sense of accomplishment you gain by visiting a distant land is especially gratifying when you arrive by conquering your fears. You will realize you had nothing to fear after all and may even become an avid traveller.

Furthermore, when you conquer your fear, you demonstrate to your children that they too can overcome their fears.

Live Well, Darlene DeStefano, PhD


I have been introduced to a new way of thinking about God. It has been many years since I have gone to church. I just don’t believe in organized religion anymore and what they preach no longer feels right. I don’t believe there is a hell or the devil because I now believe we make our own hell and we can choose to be evil or do good. Yet, I believe in Jesus and consider my a Christian. But, with my new beliefs about what God is and is not, I am having difficulty trying to understand where Jesus fits in my life now. I feel good about my new awakening to spirituality but it has all become so confusing and I am becoming troubled about Jesus. I think I should still believe in Jesus, but because I believe differently about God, it doesn’t make sense somehow about Jesus. How do I address this to feel right?

Signed: Feeling Disconnected

Dear Feeling Disconnected,
First of all it might be that you are more connected to Christ than you realize. Your new direction in spirituality is one many have and are taking. Organized religion has been around for centuries and where fire and brimstone was often taught in order to control by instilling fear in the congregation, it doesn’t apply to all religions or all ministers. Some organized religions also have a new or different outlook on what God is. Certainly trying to identify where Jesus fits into your life now can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Belief in His teachings and trying to live by them every day is what matters. If you believe that Jesus was the son of God the question for you which you didn’t identify is “What are your new beliefs about what God is or is not?” I will attempt to help you to “see” or try to “make sense” of what I think you are asking. If your newly adopted spiritual belief is what many have and are moving to: God is all that is, God is everything, God is Love, God is Light, God is the air you breath, the ground you walk, the spirit of God is in each person you meet, then believe also that Jesus was the son of God just as you are the daughter or son of God, as we all are a particle of God. 

Jesus was a teacher, a healer, a prophet. He was an enlightened figure, whose purpose was to teach the people to live in righteousness, to love thyself and love one another, ‘to seek to reconcile mankind back to Himself’. 

Apart from The King James version of The Bible, there are two other books you might to read. The Shack by William P. Young, (fiction or true?), The Mystical Life of Jesus by Sylvia Browne (very thought provoking and can help you put Jesus in a new perspective with your new beliefs). These may help you as they have helped others.

 The important issue here is you believe what is right for you, what resonates with you, deep within you. Everyone has their belief about this topic, and everyone should respect the opinion and beliefs of others, right or wrong in your eyes, agree to disagree, for this is truly loving thy neighbour and is what Jesus teachings are all about. 

Find what resonates with you the most. Over time our opinions and beliefs about many things change. Find YOUR Truth, Find What Works For YOU and Feel Connected Again!

Live Well, Darlene DeStefano, PhD

I don't know what is wrong. Our family is in turmoil. My husband and I seem to argue all the time  and both of us are touchy and irritable and we have not been intimate for some time now. My two children are ages 8 and 10. They both have behavioural issues and my eldest has really low self esteem. I find I am exhausted, lonely, and wondering when things will get better but each day just rolls into the next with little change.  I am so unhappy and even though deep down I still love him, I have been contemplating asking for a divorce. I have tried talking and we have been to a marriage counsellor. My kids are in counselling. What should I do, I can't live like this anymore?
Signed: Sad, Lonely and Wanting Out

Dear Sad, Lonely and Wanting Out:
There are any number of reasons why your family is 'out of sorts'. Before you decide to leave please, please consider all areas of your life and try to identify the possible root cause of all this turmoil. Children usually act out when something or someone in their environment/life is bothering them. Couples have many challenges at different stages in their relationship. Often the top three problem areas that create unrest between couples are money, in-laws, and disciplining/raising children. Take an honest overview of your life. If money is tight and bills are not getting paid, your debt load is too high, you aren't sure how you are going to pay for something then I suggest talking to a financial consultant. They have the knowledge, skills, and tools to help you consolidate debt, and actually learn how to save for rainy days and even for retirement. Don't dismiss this idea just because you think this doesn't apply. If money is not the issue, then a counsellor would be the next step to help provide some insight. Let a professional help you sort it out.

Live Well, Darlene DeStefano, PhD

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