I HATE flying at the best of times.
It’s not really the flying part, but the turbulence.
At best, I can get through a small amount of turbulence by reverting to Lamaze breathing, with which I have some experience – and with my hands clenched so tight my fingers are digging onto the armrest and my knuckles have gone white.
And that’s with a Xanax swallowed with a glass of red.
Which can, as you might imagine, be especially rough before a 9am flight.
So, you can equally picture, I am sure, that the worst of times is pretty horrific.
It was October 2012.
A flight from Genoa to Paris.
In a smaller plane, which did not tickle my fancy one bit.
And then came THE storm.
Mid-flight, a huge strike of lightning hit the wing (right where I was sitting mind you).
Everyone in the cabin screamed (I’m pretty sure even the hostesses).
I was convinced we were going down in a fireball.
All that kept going through my mind was how selfish I was to leave my girls with their father for three weeks so I could go on an Italian and French holiday with my mother and mother-outlaw.
As the plane shook like something out of Air Crash Investigations, I began to prepare for my painful death.
‘‘We’re all going to die!’’ I wanted to scream, but I was smart enough to know causing mass panic wouldn’t help the situation.
Unfortunately my doctor had believed I could breathe through a flying anxiety attack and refused to give me any Valium.
But that did not mean I couldn’t ask the hostesses who, by now, were all trying to calm me down.
A reassuring smile isn’t going to cut it ladies!
They assured me they had been on worse flights where luggage from the overhead locker had fallen into the cabin and they had lived to tell the tale.
I wasn’t convinced.
‘‘You’re trained to say that shit,’’ I cried.
‘‘I saw you walking faster than usual to the cockpit. What do you know? What are you not telling us?’’
I lost it.
I began arguing with the air hostesses. I demanded to speak to the pilot.
My heart feeling like it was about to burst out of my chest, I began gasping for air.
Feeling sorry for my children who would not grow up with a mother, the tears started.
Yes, I had a full blown panic attack in front of about 100 people.
Not my finest moment.
But, as many people know, anxiety is not something you can easily control.
In something of a divine miracle, we didn’t end up on the next episode of Air Crash Investigations as the pilot managed to land the plane safely.
Pulling myself together, I waved to the hostesses as I disembarked — I really don’t know what all the fuss was about.