How to get over this big/little step
November 7, 2012 3:41 PM   Subscribe

How to get over fear of this ( Long story inside)

Well on my bucket list was skydiving. So 6 months ago, my boyfriend paid for me to do a tandem skydive at 10,000 feet. I wasn't too wild about it after.. mostly because I got motion sickness from it and at the end I sprained my ankle pretty badly cause the tandem guy fell on top of me (totally my fault though!) But a few days later, I started obsessing about it. I wanted to do another tandem.

A few months later I did another tandem. This one I was terrified that me and the tandem guy was going to die. But of course we didn't. I did almost lose my glasses on the freefall because my goggles weren't tightened enough which was my fault again, haha. So I told my boyfriend if the landing went well, I wanted to take the skydiving course at this DZ (drop zone) to become a certified skydiver. The landing went awesome!

So 2 weeks ago, I took the solo skydiving course..Most people take the AFF course, but my drop zone doesn't have that, so they do IAD. We went over malfunctions, how to control the canopy, and other things. But that day we couldn't jump because the clouds were too low and we need a clearing of 3,000 feet and we were only getting 2,000 feet. For those of you who don't know what IAD is, it is when you jump out of the plane, your parachute opens right after. So the next weekend I went back and when I got there they just suited me up and before I knew it we were in the plane with two other skydivers and my instructor who was going to have my pilot chute out.

At about 2,000 feet my instructor showed me my pilot chute and I nodded. I felt a really bad feeling...of course I know. I'm about to jump out of a plane, I'm suppose to have a bad feeling. But I couldn't shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen. So I told him I didn't want to do it anymore. We went back down. I felt so much shame like my dream has been shattered, and I made a dumb decision even paying all that money for the course. I was leaving when two guys from the solo course from my class the last weekend showed up and asked if the clouds were too low again. I told them my story and they said they were scared too but they were going to do it.

So we all went back inside, and they suited us up again. I felt a lot better. But the only problem was I was cold out of my mind. I hadn't dressed that warm. I was shivering and my feet and hands felt so frozen. When we got into the plane, they made it so I would be the last person to jump out. I watched the two guys go...and then it was my turn. I was shivering at this point even more. As soon as they opened the door again, I shook my head and said I couldn't do it. It was way too freezing and I didn't trust myself that the cold would interfere with steering the canopy or the landing. So once again the had to land with me in the plane.

I feel like absolute crap for not jumping. I SHOULD have sucked it up and just dealt with the cold for 5 minutes. The only thing that happened after we all landed was the guy in the class who did jump said that it was really good I didn't jump because the winds picked up BADLY on the plane ride up and even though he was being directed back down by a walkie talkie, he almost hit the shed. So maybe I saved my own life by not jumping?

But I never want to feel this way again. I am pretty sure this weekend I am going to go up in the plane again. I am going to jump. I figured since I spent all that money for the class, might as well just jump and if I hate it, I don't have to do it ever again. But really I keep obsessing about it. I keep picturing the door opening and the step right there for me to step out on. I think one of the things that freaked me out the most is only being 3,000 feet compared to 10,000 feet...weird? Someone who is scared of not too high places...

So I need some advice on what to do before I jump. Like things I can say to encourage myself to just get it over with. I know everyone who has skydived before said it's an amazing feeling. But I'm looking for something more to say to myself while going up in the plane this time. Please don't be rude. Those kind of attitudes don't help me.

Oh and one more thing. I got a new temp job at a printing factory. Yesterday was my first day, and I recognized some guy working there. He was one of the skydivers that was in the plane with me the first ride up! I think it's a sign. :)
posted by Autumn89 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total)
I think it's hard to answer this question without knowing why you want to skydive. You feel fear and anxiety about it (which are totally understandable feelings), so I'm not clear why you are thinking about doing it.
posted by Dansaman at 3:46 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why is doing this so important to you?
posted by dgeiser13 at 3:49 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

The whole idea of skydiving appeals to me, that is why. I like watching skydivers jump, and I did like the free fall the second time when I didn't get motion sickness. Honestly it's the ONLY being 3,000 feet in the air..which is not high to me, that is why I am panicky. I am used to be up way higher when jumping. Unfortunately to become certified I have to start at 3,000 feet and work my way up to 10,000 feet. If I could have it my way I would do the AFF course, but it is too expensive (like $300-$400 for every jump and with IAD it is $50 for each jump, plus I paid $200 for the class.
posted by Autumn89 at 3:51 PM on November 7, 2012

You know, you don't have to jump out of a plane. You really don't.
posted by tel3path at 3:52 PM on November 7, 2012 [14 favorites]

If someone could give words of encourage to say to myself once I am in the plane that would be great. Thanks. And I do want it now that I KNOW how bad I feel for not jumping.
posted by Autumn89 at 3:55 PM on November 7, 2012

Like things I can say to encourage myself to just get it over with.

I think bringing conscious thought into this is a bad idea, and that what you should be repeating vocally is an empty phrase that will allow you to remove your nervous brain from the spiral into worst-case-scenario thought-based anxiety. I would personally go with "Oh Don Piano" and the like, myself.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:56 PM on November 7, 2012 [7 favorites]

Practice psyching yourself up to do stuff starting now! It gets easier as you do it, its a muscle.

Good practices are getting up in the pre dawn cold to go running, taking a cold shower, jumping right in the water,climbing, touching a spider... anything that is uncomfortable or a bit scary but that you'll feel better after doing. (Nb: I did not feel better after petting the spider,they are still terrifying).
posted by fshgrl at 3:58 PM on November 7, 2012

But I never want to feel this way again..... I am going to jump. I figured since I spent all that money for the class, might as well just jump

One simple way to avoid ever feeling bad about not jumping is to not ever try and jump again. The money you've paid for the class is irrelevant now: that's the sunk cost fallacy. Look at it this way: if you hadn't taken the class, and someone came and said you could do this jump for only $50, would you want to do it?

IF you do really want to go ahead with this after ignoring the sunk cost, then
1) you need to be ok with coming down in the plane. If you go up there thinking 'this time I'm jumping out no matter what!' then you are in a mindset to ignore legitimate warning signs and risks, and you will increase the danger to yourself.
2) You've skydived before. You know whether or not you think it's an amazing feeling. Remember how it felt
3) so the lowness is what bothers you. Think through this: are you worried the canopy won't open in time because it's shorter? Is there less freefall time so you have less to look forward to about the jump, if that's what you like? What is it really?
4) I agree with Greg Nog. You need calming mantras, Zen type stuff, on the way up in the plane. Maybe try getting this song in your head and repeat the chorus.
posted by jacalata at 4:00 PM on November 7, 2012 kind of sounds like your problems with what you've done so far have, what with the loose goggles and causing the instructor to land on you and not dressing appropriately to the point it made you worry about being able to control your reflexes. You seem to recognize this.

I scuba dive. It is a fun thing that I love doing. I, and every other diver I know, take safety damn seriously, because the potential consequences of not doing are damn serious. I don't understand why you don't feel the same way about jumping out of an airplane. It's good that your gut is telling you not to do a serious and risky thing that you're not prepared for. Your systems are working. If you really do want to do this, do it right—dress correctly, etc.—and see if you still have the same reaction.
posted by peachfuzz at 4:00 PM on November 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

I got halfway through the skydiving progression to get my A license, a total of about 17 jumps, some I "failed" by not doing the correct maneuver.

1) The feeling of fear DOES go away if you do it often enough. As in like, 3 a day for 3 days straight. And it comes back if you stop doing it for a while. That's normal.

2) Things CAN go horribly wrong, so it's not bad to be scared. I comfort myself by double and triple checking the parachute before getting on the plane, and making sure my altimeter is reading correctly. I make sure the emergency pull gadget is on and calibrated properly--and remind myself that it works. I check that my goggles are tight and my helmet is on right, etc. If I'm freaking out, I do it all over again.

3) Statistically speaking, you're more likely to get in a bad car crash than a bad skydive. Also, statistically, unless you're trying to do some trick (i.e. landing at 40 mph at a sharp angle), you're quite unlikely to hurt yourself.

4) You're not supposed to... but I close my eyes and pretend I'm floating on a cloud in a fantasy world just before I let go. I make sure my form is correct and then open my eyes.

5) I've flubbed some jumps. Badly. But I haven't actually hurt myself. You actually probably have more time than you think to do whatever it is you have to do.

6) My skydiving location let me choose to go 500 ft higher, for the first (3000 ft) jumps. It doesn't really make a difference, except it made me feel better.

7) Dress warmly. It's cold up there.

That said, I stopped jumping due to time constraints. It's been a year, and now I'm more scared than ever and have absolutely no desire to ever skydive again.
posted by ethidda at 4:03 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

gah crappy cover. This video is the real Tom Petty version
posted by jacalata at 4:05 PM on November 7, 2012

Maybe you can think of something that is more dangerous or that you'd dislike more than jumping out of an airplane (Liver biopsy? Kissing an iguana? Swimming outdoors in the middle of the winter? Root canal? Colonoscopy?) and then relative to those things, jumping will feel like a cakewalk. Everything is relative, and you can use that to fool your mind into thinking you are not afraid.
posted by Dansaman at 4:36 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've certainly never done anything quite so scary before, but whenever I have to do something that makes me nervous, I tell myself that I should just take the plunge. I focus on the end results - how proud and happy I will be, how I really want this and accomplishing it will give me such satisfaction and so on/so forth. I imagine what it would be like, and then I'm usually still nervous, but more likely to go through with it.
posted by cyml at 5:21 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Move your choice point: tell yourself that you have a choice to get on the plane or not, but you don't have a choice about jumping once you are on the plane. If you get on the plane, that means you are jumping (unless the instructor or pilot tell you it is not safe, of course). Tell yourself that once you are on the plane, you are finished thinking about it. And then spend the plane ride on a specific task - singing all twenty verses of your favorite song or whatever you need to do to pass the time until it is time to go.
posted by judith at 8:57 PM on November 8, 2012

Finally did it today! Had an awesome time and a safe landing. :) thanks for all the advice.getting myself into zen mode on the way up really helped.
posted by Autumn89 at 11:17 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

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