Life Lessons: The Day I Thought I Was Going To Die

November 13, 2015

By: Anna Agoncillo

Image Credits: (CC0 Public Domain)
As the wheels of the aircraft were getting ready for take-off, the surge of negative emotions deep inside me were too. In my mind, I thought that was the day I was going to die.

4 hours before…

Before reaching the airport, the nationwide scare brought by the "Tanim Bala Scam" urged the passengers of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Philippines) to cover-up their baggages securely. 

Allegedly, officials "plant" live ammunition in the unsuspecting passenger's luggage and then busting this international traveler for having bullets in his bag. Victims of this scam were asked to pay a hefty fine or to face the consequences of "their" actions (i.e., imprisonment and fines). 

And, nobody wants to become a victim! Not even me. 

With the help of my equally anxious family members, I was able to securely cover my baggage with tape and locks. 

Fortunately, I was safely welcomed in the departure gate with more than 2 hours to spare. So, I grabbed a medium-sized coffee (thinking my body can handle it) and relaxed for a while. 

Now back to the story…

As the wheels of the aircraft were getting ready for take-off, the surge of negative emotions deep inside me were too. In my mind, I thought that was the day I was going to die.

Physically, I felt cold and dizzy. Psychologically, my negative thoughts were juggling in my head over and over again. This is called rumination. At this moment, I questioned why this was happening to me. 

My heart was racing so fast that I had to take a deep breath and analyzed the situation. I had too much caffeine to drink. It caused my palpitations and other physiological symptoms. More importantly, it worsen my "pre-flight" anxiety.
anxiety /aŋˈzʌɪəti/ noun  
is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension and worry accompanied by physical changes such as increased blood pressure
Dr. Roland Griffiths, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, once said:
"Caffeine is the most widely used mood-altering drug in the world. People often see coffee, tea, and soft drinks simply as beverages rather than vehicles for a Psychoactive drug. But, caffeine can exacerbate anxiety and panic disorders." 
He was right.

In DSM-IV-TR, the brewed trouble inside of me was called Caffeine-induced anxiety. This alongside Caffeine intoxication and Caffeine-induced sleep disorders were under the Caffeine-related disorders. 
Image Credits: (CC0 Public Domain)
To solve my problem, I asked for a blanket and lots of warm water. I figured that if I released the toxins in my body thru urination, I would feel better. I may have frequented the lavatory for the whole duration of the flight but, it was worth it.

Furthermore, I asked the help of the person beside me to talk with me to diminish my "dizziness". He was kind enough to open up about his life, work, and kids. This simple act  helped my mind to displace its thoughts away from the rumination. To be honest, I was analyzing the stranger too. I guess you cannot take away the "Psych major" out of me even if I am under pressure. 

Aside from these, I positively visualized the things that I would do once I see my loved ones. As I was humming my favorite song, the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent. Finally!

All's well that ends well.

However, I will never drink too much caffeine before and after boarding the plane anymore. 

(This is a personal reflection based on real life events that occurred in the past.)

Enjoy the the previous posts: 5 Greatest Things You'll Learn From Psychology Of Love, Money, & Life , Everything You Need To Know About Mental Toughness 

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