Fernando Schnabl lost his wife and five year old son when Flight 447 went down in the ocean earlier this summer. Did you know that he and his daughter boarded an earlier flight because of their fear of flying together “in case something happened”?

The fiery accident on New York’s Taconic Parkway took the lives of a 9, 7, 5 and 2 year old.

A local family’s two year old died after he drowned in the pool.

What happens to you when you read or hear about these tragic accidents?

Physically, I seize up in terror. I can feel my heart pound. My throat tightens up. I fight back tears. And then my mind does something so horrible that I can barely function: I imagine ZGirl or XBoy in that situation. Like right now, I’m doing it.

And that’s why I must write about it. It’s been happening a lot recently. It started one night shortly after the crash of 447 as I was just on the verge of falling asleep when suddenly the mental picture of my daughter’s lifeless and tiny body floating out there alone and cold came to me in searing imagery …I started to hyperventilate… even now, trying to describe the morbid thoughts, I am fighting to control myself, to breathe.

I must purge these thoughts. I have to find a way to banish these visions that send me to the bathroom retching in fear. I must face these mental demons before they consume me. My husband wants to go to the beach next year. A few months ago, I would have anticipated the chance to finally take a vacation. But now I have become so paranoid that all I could do was answer, “We’ll see.” I don’t want to get on a plane with my children. I can’t explain what is going on in my head to Mr. DD. He would only tell me that I’m worrying needlessly; enabling what was once a non-existent phobia.

Is this normal? Not just to fear the worst, but to imagine the worst? I feel paralyzed and that in some way, it’s a sick mind that allows imagery of such awfulness.

29 thoughts on “EXORCISING THE FEAR”

  1. I have thought about this for a couple of days so I am kind of behind. I hate to hear that you are suffering. I have done it myself and it seems so futile. I have even tried mentally apologizing that I cannot help. It is so hard to accept the suffering of the world, especially children.

  2. I have found myself unable to sleep at night because of the thoughts swirling around my head. I lay there thinking of all sorts of scenerios and how I would react. My most recent scenerio involves me and the three boys being held hostage during a robbery.

    Air France left me a mess after I read about the 11 year old boy flying home alone to the UK. It took everything I had not to sob out load at work that day while reading the article.

  3. You are not alone. I have been known to have day dreams so vivid that I have to wake myself up from them and remind myself it was just my imagination running wild.

    For awhile I thought I was the only one who had these images in her head but apparently I am not.

  4. I remember back when DaBoy was about 3 years old. There were 2 women driving around doing drive-by purse snatchings. One of them had her 2 year old son with them. They got into a high speed chase with a Delaware State trooper & ended up crashing. THe daily paper had a PICTURE of this little broken baby on the cover. I remember reading this story, then calling the daycare just to talk to Danny and hear his sweet little voice. Then I went into the bathroom and cried.

  5. As you know I have some anxiety issues myself, most of which centre around P and her health/safety. Again, as you know, medication was what I needed, though I hear therapy helps as well.

    I think it makes perfect sense that this happens after you have a child – I’m prone to anxiety anyway, and once I was with The Dude for a certain amount of time, his safety was the focus of my anxiety. Once P arrived, the anxiety shifted to her. Oh, I really must rush to have another child!

  6. I have so many of the same thoughts as you and as your commenters. I also saw the story about the toddler trapped in the burning, overturned SUV and the firefighters that saved him. I literally started to cry and told Gabe we needed to leave the house and take the kids for a walk, I just didn’t want to think about all the “what ifs”.

    SIDS especially scares me. When one of the kids, especially Livi now, doesn’t make a noise for a long time I have to go touch them to make sure they’re still breathing. I know in my rational mind that we have taken every precaution possible (no smoking, cool rooms, no blankets, fans in rooms, etc) but I also know it can happen to any one at any time.

    I do my best to not let those thoughts take over but watching the news today and hearing about a 17-year-old girl that was abducted in broad daylight already had me making plans no how to raise Aiden and Livi to fight, run, and do everything possible not to let that happen to them. This world is most definitely a scary place and I just hate it.

  7. Flying really un-nerves me now, we just flew in the past few weeks and I was almost overwhelmed thinking about what if something happened to us (specifically, plane crash). Not so much to me but to Ellie. I kept thinking, I’ve lived a full life already but she’s only 2 she has nothing but life ahead of her.

    Part of coming to terms with the fact that she may be my only child is trying to stifle the worry that something could happen to her. That is not something I could ever recover from.

    1. I had a lot of those feelings regarding the only child thing with XBoy…they didn’t go away when he became NOT an only child. It blown away how parents even can discuss what happens when they’ve lost their child.

      As for recovering from that kind of loss? For the one, I would have to try, but w/o them both, I would and could not.

  8. I know this feeling all too well. It’s the reason I didn’t stop sleeping in TK’s room until about a month ago, it’s the I’m not sleeping through the night, even when TK does, to check on him, to see if he is still breathing.

    Almost every day, I look at TK and I wonder what I would do if something were to happen to him and I know the answer is, I would go crazy from the grief.

    And I know I shouldn’t read any of the type of stories you mention, but I do, because for some reason I can’t help it. Maybe I think if I read what happens I can maybe prevent it? I don’t know. And I know I can’t keep thinking about those things, because there is ALWAYS something to worry about, but sometimes I can’t stop it.

  9. Hi my dear. You are not alone. I do agree with the notion that you may want to talk to someone. It can get to the point that you let these fears stop you from doing anything – I had agoraphobia for years because of my catastrophic thoughts and psychology helped me “feel the fear and do it anyway” so that I didn’t become paralyzed. Every single time I go on any trip (even 15 minutes in a car), I see me dying in a car accident but I make myself go because I know that the walls of my house can squeeze in on me until I only feel safe in a bedroom (been there. done that.). Times of stress can make it happen more often. Are you more stressed than usual? Thinking of you,

    1. I suppose I’m more stressed right now due to the lack of employment. My COBRA subsidy assistance expires in 4 months and I haven’t seen a decent job in the paper in months. I hate the feeling of being displaced all day and every day. Every day I’m reminded in little ways how I’m ONLY a temp at where I work and that plays havoc on my self-esteem.

      1. I had to response to this comment, I hope that’s okay.

        I completely understand the self-esteem issues. It has been almost 6 months since I was dismissed (i.e. FIRED) from my job and I still haven’t found anything full-time/permanent. I have three part-time jobs with no guarantee of hours and no benefits. That really plays games with your mind and messes your self-esteem up like no other. I hope you’re able to find something very soon though and I’m thinking of you.

  10. I had horrible thoughts of my children being mutilated in car crashes or stolen and abused when I was under massive amounts of stress at work. It got to the point that these thoughts were happening during the day and not just in my dreams at night. I ended up telling my supervisors about it and what was the root cause, a freaking dumbass attorney who was torturing me at work. Once they told him to go pound sand the nightmares and horrid daymares finally went away.
    I get that sick, gut-clench though every time they have stories on the news about babies or toddlers being abused. Seems that more and more of that is happening and the ones doing the abuse are blaming it on the economy. Sorry people but you were on welfare for the last 5 years and the State keeps upping your check so don’t blame the “economy” for you being a sick bastard or bastardess. Sorry, I will get off my soap box now, but I do know what you mean about that feeling in your stomach.
    I just grab Marjorie and hug her tight if she is awake or run to her room and make sure she is still breathing.

  11. I have these fears too. Plane crashes, drownings (my main paranoia which is silly given we are all water babies) and dreadful illness. I hate when any of us drives/flies without the others. It is just an annoyance though and doesnt stop me actually going on places or swimming or driving etc.

    1. Water is the worst one for me. I think that’s why when I read the news about this little two year old boy found in the pool, I felt the need to get it out in a post. I just kept having this image of a little boy playing and then falling in and struggling and then…nothing. And I’ve always been comfortable in the water, and while XBoy is not, ZGirl has no fear. I think that is scary in itself.

  12. I think this way nearly every single day. My husband thinks I have a problem, because I worry that way. Hey, at least now I can point him to this blog entry and say – hey – I’m not the only one!

  13. Steve teases me because my brain works like the Final Destination movies – I always go to the worst possible outcome that ends with me sobbing over a dismembered child/spouse/friend/parent/self/etc. Fortunately, I don’t dream that way often but awake I can too easily imagine myself in the place of others. When the Sphors lost their little girl, I sobbed (I don’t know them – just read it all on twitter) because of the pain they must be in. Also on twitter there is this whole thing about a sick baby (Stellan) and I can’t read too much because I end up in tears. I can too easily imagine my baby being the one so sick and ack – going there in my head. Must stop. Maybe I need to stay away from social media.

    Anywhoo…sorry you are having the mental anxiety…it sucks. I don’t know if you ever let it go or if it is just the way some peoples brains are hard wired.

    1. Michelle, I have been really good at following those links to bloggers who have lost their child. It just hurts too much, but for whatever reason I’ve been following Gorrillabuns’ story and the aftermath of losing her son to SIDS. I cry for her and her family after every post, even if she tries to avoid the topic, because her pain is so raw even in the everyday parts of her life that she is trying to live through. And then yes, like you, my mind goes there, what if it had been ZGirl?

  14. I had to stop watching the news since I had our kids 2 years ago. I used to be able to watch those stories and think “Oh that’s horrible” and not give it another thought. Now like you, I get so sick to my stomach. Just last night I tried to watch the local news to see the weather, but had to turn it off after the first 3 stories were about a man being beaten to death while walking home, a drive by shooting that left a few teenagers in the hospital, and worst of all an interview with a mother whose 14 year daughter died last week being hit by lightening. I give up. I just can’t watch the news anymore. It’s too depressing.

    However I do better if we are all together. A few times my husband has driven all 3 kids to my parents without me (to give me a break) and I can’t relax until he calls to say they got there (seriously it’s only 30 minutes away). But last week we drove to Colorado and I was fine. If we have to die, please let it be together. I just can’t be left behind to live without them. Is that wrong?

    1. I’ve been reading the news on-line quite a bit now that I don’t have much to do at work and I can’t help but read some of those stories. Recently the one about the toddler and baby found in a dumpster (alive, thank GOD), just make me ache. I love my children so much, I would walk through fire for them. How can any parent, ANY HUMAN, just throw away a child??

  15. One time my husband and I went through a really rough landing after an adult weekend while my kids were at home with the sitter. All I could think about is what theh hell would our kids do without either of us and from now on we would not get one plane together. We have but not without extreme stress on my part!

  16. Worry or even paranoia about things in the news is normal. Flashbacks that paralyze you or prevent you from living your life normally are not.

    Those are PTSD, something many many women have after infertility and pregnancy loss, or even difficult deliveries. Nothing like multiple invasive medical procedures to cause trauma.

    Get some help. It’s not going to go away on it’s own.

  17. You know what, Lala took a plane to visit her grandparents in the south of France this weekend and I was shitting myself the entire time her flight lasted and made her call me straight away when she landed. I even begged Mr A. to change it to a train, he managed to calm me down eventually and I decided I was being irrational!

    It’s directly because of all these freak air accidents happening recently that’s made me crazy with fear.

    We’re parents so we’re bound to get panicky with such thoughts. I wouldn’t say its abnormal, irrational perhaps, but then parents who love their kids to death usually are.

    I must admit, I imagine all sorts of awful scenarios when accidents like these happen. Especially when babies and kids are involved. I’m usually better a few days after, once the shock has subsided.

    Me personally, I’m not planning on taking a flight any time soon, too shit scared!

    Hope the anxiety passes soon for you, its terrifying, I know.


  18. Mostly this stuff doesn’t bother me too much, but there do seem to have been a lot of plane crashes in the news lately, and I’m supposed to take my little girl on a plane in September. But we’ll be fine. Statistically, you know.

  19. Truthfully? I think you love your children more than anything else on earth and imaging something happening to them is part of that. It is not even on a moms radar to lose her children, hence it becomes her greatest nightmare.

    I still call my kids when they are not at home and I hear sirens and that rush of fear runs through my veins

    There was a riot on S1 and S2’s campus last spring…it was on the 10 oclock news and yep, I called them. I couldn’t imagine trying to go to sleep not knowing if they were there. Again, my heart was pounding.

    I wish I had the answer to make it not happen or to go away,,,,I don’t think there is an answer.

    As for flying, my thought is we are all together if something bad happens, we will all be in it together. I hate flying with just the husband though…the thought of leaving the kids without any parents makes me nauseous.

  20. You’re not alone. The first plane crash, the one in the Hudson where everyone survived – I imagined the same thing as I was dozing off that night.

    And even the other night it happened – I was in the liquor store of all places, looking for a bottle of wine. The guy working the counter had a news story on – 60 Minutes or something – where some good samaritan rescued a toddler boy from a burning SUV. They were showing FOOTAGE of it. Of them hosing down this burning boy, slapping the flames down.

    I still have no idea how I managed to select a bottle, pay, and leave without passing out. Because once I was in my car, I had to FIGHT to breathe properly. Because I was IMAGINING that it was O.

    Anyway. Happens to me too. My sick mind works the same way as yours. Only way I cope is to have contingency plans for as much as I can. A pocketknife and a little hammer in my glovebox in case I need to cut O out of his carseat if we ever drive off a bridge into water. Or a fiery crash.

    And I don’t watch the news. Or think too hard about plane crashes. (Akin to plugging my ears with my fingers and singing “La-la-la-LA!”)

    Doesn’t always quell the fear. But sometimes it helps.


    1. When XBoy was two, there was an accident in town where a boy who was also two was killed in a car accident, even though he was properly latched into the car seat. For a long time after that, whenever he fell asleep in the carseat, I would have these horrible thoughts that THAT is what the other boy would’ve looked like when the ambulance arrived.

  21. I don’t know how normal it is, but it happened to me when my daughter was first born. My OB said it would go away after a while, but to tell him if it didn’t. I still get flashes (I have a bedside table with some really nice sharp edges, and I infrequently picture her falling right onto the corner of that table), but I have fewer bouts of all-consuming fear.

    Here is my worst moment: A coworker and friend died when I was on maternity leave. The wake/funeral was at a church in one of the worst towns in our area. My husband and I took our then 3 month old to the wake, and I stayed for the funeral while he took her home. For the whole service, I was panicked – thinking that while walking the half block to the car, he would get carjacked or shot and killed, and our daughter would be stolen or killed. What makes this REALLY irrational is that I work in a crime lab, so the place was filled with and surrounded by cops. Everywhere. No way a carjacker (or anyone else in a five block radius) was going to try anything that night. Nevertheless, I had a hard time breathing until I could get out and call him to check up on them.

You can say it here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s