The events of 9/11 caused a profound change in my emotional well-being. I was on a business trip when the 9/11 events occurred. I found myself stuck in a hotel in Norfolk, Va. As I watched the terrible scenes on TV and saw the whole airline industry shut down, I was soon overcome with anxiety as to whether I would ever get home to Utah.
After three days of living in a cramped hotel room, I and another stranded party rented a car and drove to Rochester, N.Y., where I have a daughter. After two days at her house, I was finally able to book a flight home.
At first I was relieved that I was able to finally return to my "sanctuary." However as the days and months progressed, I started experiencing unexplained anxiety attacks and depression. By the beginning of 2002, I realized that I was so stressed out that I could no longer cope with these issues by myself and I was obliged to seek professional help.
I have been traveling on commercial airlines since 1957 and, during my career, I know that I have probably logged more than 500,000 miles in the air. I have traveled all over the U.S. and Canada, been to Alaska and Korea three times, Egypt, Venezuela, mainland China, Taiwan and Hawaii.
However when I tried to renew my travels by air after 9/11, I started experiencing severe anxiety every time I tried to board a plane. I also realized that I was experiencing claustrophobia, which had never been a problem before. In fact, I have not traveled by air since the spring of 2002. I found I could no longer endure the closed environment of an airplane cabin or even be comfortable in crowds of people. I found myself shying away from movie theaters and events where I would be in crowds of people.
My claustrophobia was suddenly so severe that I could no longer watch movies on TV about submarines, nor was I comfortable in any confined environment such as airplane, a high-rise hotel or motel room. I even had trouble when I tried to buy a new compact vehicle.
Today, 10 years later, I am now 77 years old and am retired with my own part-time consulting business. While I have not totally overcome these maladies, I seldom experience anxiety or claustrophobia. However, while I still travel by car to visit clients, I am also careful not to get myself into any situations that might be stressful or cause a recurrence of these emotional issues.
-- Carl F. Jeerings