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Marc_B

newbie really struggling with fear/terror

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Hello. I’m a newbie here and started AFP about a month ago. I apologize in advance for how long this is but I kind of need to get it all out. I’ve completed AFP 1-4. Before I get into the details of what I’m struggling with, let me give a little background. I’ve never really had a desire to Jump out of a plane. However, about 10 months ago, my wife decided she did. She did a few tandems, and immediately enrolled in AFP and got her “A”, and now “B” license. At the time my wife started AFP, I weighed 300+lbs and so it wasn’t even a possibility for me. She loves the sport so much that all she could talk about was wanting to share it with me/wanting to fly with me. So…I agreed that if I could lose the weight, I would give it a try to at least see if I liked it (as a guy in his mid-40’s who’s been struggling with weight for at least the last 5 years, I didn’t really think I would ever be able to lose the weight). Well, after 6 months of spending weekends at the DZ sitting at the picnic tables, eating salads, and supporting my wife in her sport, I had lost 80 lbs. and had a promise to keep to my wife. Still very uncertain about all of this, I decided if I was going to do a jump to see if I liked it (or let’s be honest, if I was even capable of getting out of the door), I decided to not do a tandem and instead enrolled in the first jump course so that I could get as close to the full experience as possible. When I was on the plane, I was on the verge of vomiting the entire ride up (all the while my wife is sitting in the rear “closet” of the twin otter grinning at me from ear to ear for the entire ride to altitude…no pressure there). Despite all of my reservations, I had a good textbook jump (arched on exit, didn’t get any hand signals, only one shake on exit, maintained COA, pulled at correct altitude, etc.). It was like as soon as I stepped out the door, my emotions left my body and I started checking the boxes on the “task list”, but I wasn’t really there at all emotionally. When I landed safely on the ground, I was pretty sure I didn’t like it, but trying not to disappoint my wife, I convinced myself that the sensory overload was so great that I didn’t know what I felt. Of course her and her (now our) skydiving friends all told me there is no way you can know if you like it after one jump so you have to at least give it 2 or 3 jumps to know for sure.

The next few days after AFP1, were hell on me emotionally. At that point, I began having lots of trouble sleeping averaging 3-4 total hours of frequently interrupted sleep per night. I began taking natural sleep aids (melatonin) to try to sleep without much help and then started with Nyquil or adult beverages once or twice a week just to try to catch up on sleep. Additionally, I could no longer watch videos or read thru the next level in the AFP manual without my heart rate spiking into the 130-140 range and me feeling sick to my stomach. Also, I couldn’t not think about anything but skydiving all day long and my resting heart rate has been elevated to 95-110 all day every day ever since (usually 58-65). I almost did not go back for level 2 but ended up going back and doing it a week later. Level 2 was out of a smaller plane with a lower door and so I had to do a squatting lunge out the door and even though the exit was terrifying to me, it went very well (even got an instructor “high 5” on the exit). The jump went very much like level 1 (it was pretty much textbook, I completely left all emotion at the door, went thru the steps like a robot again and had no emotion). I did manage to keep my eyes open thru the exit and at pull time and managed to see my parachute deploy (personal goals/self-critiques from my level 1). I really remember the beauty of watching the chute open and truly seeing/understanding how the slider directed the Airflow and opened the parachute like a perfectly orchestrated symphony. I also really enjoy flying under canopy (I’ve always been a lover of aviation and flying so this comes easy to me as I understand patterns, decent rates, etc.), but the freefall still terrified me and the only way I was able to get thru it was to not “be there” emotionally.

I skipped the next weekend due to weather and ended up going back the next weekend (2 weeks since level 2) for level 3. I was scared S#!tless about level 3 because I would be released in freefall. As I stated about level 1 & 2, I become a robot and “check the boxes” as close to perfectly as possible in freefall because a big part of my irrational fear is that if I even move a finger incorrectly, I will tumble towards the ground at 500mph. As such, being released was very terrifying to me as I might move a finger incorrectly leading to my untimely death. Luckily, I got a set of instructors for level 3 that were really good and helping me manage my fear and are probably the only reason I was able to complete level 3 (and one of those instructors also did my level 4 later that day). Level 3 was again a pretty uneventful jump, I checked out emotionally, and checked all of the boxes and did fine (in fact I didn’t really move on release and would have never believed they let go of me if I hadn’t seen it on video myself: the first thing I said to the instructor on the ground is why didn’t you let go of me). Level 4 also went ok, more of the same: check out emotionally for free fall, go thru the check boxes to live, etc. I did have a little bit of trouble on level 4 when I went to do my first 90 degree turn, I bent my back to the side I was turning and went “spinning” (turns out it was only about a 270) in the opposite direction but was able to get back to neutral arch and stop the turn and then completed 2 90’s correctly. even the “spin” didn’t really bother me other than I remember under canopy thinking “well I just failed that level” (Turns out I didn’t). After 4 jumps, I still cannot find hardly any joy. The only joy I get out of freefall is the 2-300ft just before pull altitude. Knowing it is over is all I can currently enjoy. I do however love canopy. Unfortunately, even if I were to decide that I’m only ever going to do hop and pops, I still have to get thru AFP which is terrifying. you have to freefall to get to canopy

So here I am after a month and 4 jumps and totally terrified to move forward. My heart rate remained at ~100bpm all day every day, I still can’t watch videos or read the next level without spiking my heart rate and feeling sick to my stomach and my sleeping after level 3 & 4 had gone from nightmares with a few hours of actual sleep a night to night terrors (waking up yelling/jumping out of bed and seeing my heart rate in the minutes after this in the 160-170 range on my Fitbit) and getting mere minutes of sleep in the course of the night despite any self-medication I have tried to assist with sleep. Literally, every time I would begin to fall asleep I went straight into falling out of control towards the earth and woke right back up in sheer terror. I had to do a lot of soul searching in the time that everyone else is a sleep for a few nights in a row. I know my fear is irrational but it is at this point effecting my health, my mental wellbeing, and my job performance so after a couple of nights like this, I had to just tell my wife I’m done. Ever since I declared I’m done (it’s been about 5 days), I have been sleeping like a baby, my heart rate is back in normal range and I don’t feel constantly sick any more so I do logically believe this is probably the best decision for me. However, at the same time, I am in mourning/heartbroken because I can’t (or at least at this point don’t believe I can) give my wife what she really wanted. Also, I know that so many people at the DZ have supported me and helped me along and unlike most people who quit, I will still be at the DZ regularly being reminded I can’t do what everyone else there does and that I am a disappointment to all of those there that have “invested” in me, so I’m feeling like a failure. After level 3/4, on the drive home, I came to the conclusion that I would probably never really be “into it” and I would try to push thru for my wife and then rent gear and jump just enough to stay current and jump with my wife on occasion but I would probably never buy my own gear. Shortly after is when the fear turned to terror. During my soul searching, I’ve had a few thoughts:

-This is probably just not a sport you can do for someone else (no matter how much you love them) and If I’m to ever move forward, I need to find reasons to do it for me.
-I believe this is, at least in part, a confidence issue. I still think and move about like a 300lb guy even though I’m now at 206lbs. Every aircraft door seems too small for me, I feel like I’m too big to move effectively in the air, I feel like my movements will be unsafe to me and eventually others, etc. It also doesn’t help that every time I get new instructors for a level my previous level instructors make sure to come by and tell the new instructors how I “fall like a rock”.

I know that most of you are going to tell me that fear is a good thing and should be expected, but my questions are really:
-How much fear is too much fear? When does it become unhealthy/unsafe to move forward?
- when I concluded that I would likely never be more than a gear renting currency jumper after level 3&4 did I subconsciously make the choice that this wasn’t for me which allowed the terror to take over (have I made my decision and just didn’t realize it)?
-If I quit (at least for the time being), do you think it’s possible that I would ever find the right reasons (and maybe become more aware of my current body) to try again or will I effectively be quitting forever?

Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks so much for listening and giving me a forum to vent.

Marc

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To me it sounds like you made the right decision. Skydiving is not for everyone and doing it to make someone else happy is not a good idea. Let skydiving be your wife's thing. Hang out at the dropzone if you want and you can still be part of the community. And if after hanging out for a while you decide that you want to give it a try, the sky will still be there.
"I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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I enjoyed reading your story. I think you can beat this, and it's worth a shot for the joy that comes with skydiving, and doing something with your wife. Fear is amazingly powerful. It developed as a means for our survival and is rooted in our reptilian brain. The cerebral cortex came later and usually loses out in a fight between the two. The trick to overcoming fear is desensitizing and increasing your skill. Everytime you visualize skydiving, youre getting borderline panic attacks and reinforcing that fear. I've totally been there. I think your best bet is going to a wind tunnel. By getting some confidence in your ability to fly your body in a windstream you'll take away a good chunk of the fear away. I'd also develop some physical ability. You didn't say how you lost the weight, or what kind of shape youre in. I'm a very large guy with weight issues that have always plagued my skydiving. Doing half ass yoga gives me more confidence and increases my ability to jump. Also, the first jumps are the hardest. I didn't start to feel less terrified until maybe the 9th jump. One other resource is a fear app. Surf city makes good ones. It's a self hypnosis deal that I think would help. Don't give up! You've done the hard part by dropping the weight. I'm rooting for you, big boy.

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Marc_B


-How much fear is too much fear? When does it become unhealthy/unsafe to move forward?



When the fear leads to panic or the fear is so great that it overrides your training. If crap hits the fan and you need to execute your EPs or deal with some other form of emergency, you need to be able to do it decisively, quickly and correctly. Panicking during an emergency will make things far worse and possibly lethal.

Skydiving is not for everyone. It is what it is. I would not skydive for someone else. You have to do it because you want to do it. At least your tried. My significant other wont even attempt AFF. As others have said, if you decide to try it later, the sky will always be waiting.

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Marc_B

Hello. I’m a newbie here and started AFP about a month ago. I apologize in advance for how long this is but I kind of need to get it all out. I’ve completed AFP 1-4. Before I get into the details of what I’m struggling with, let me give a little background. I’ve never really had a desire to Jump out of a plane. However, about 10 months ago, my wife decided she did. She did a few tandems, and immediately enrolled in AFP and got her “A”, and now “B” license. At the time my wife started AFP, I weighed 300+lbs and so it wasn’t even a possibility for me. She loves the sport so much that all she could talk about was wanting to share it with me/wanting to fly with me. So…I agreed that if I could lose the weight, I would give it a try to at least see if I liked it (as a guy in his mid-40’s who’s been struggling with weight for at least the last 5 years, I didn’t really think I would ever be able to lose the weight). Well, after 6 months of spending weekends at the DZ sitting at the picnic tables, eating salads, and supporting my wife in her sport, I had lost 80 lbs. and had a promise to keep to my wife. Still very uncertain about all of this, I decided if I was going to do a jump to see if I liked it (or let’s be honest, if I was even capable of getting out of the door), I decided to not do a tandem and instead enrolled in the first jump course so that I could get as close to the full experience as possible. When I was on the plane, I was on the verge of vomiting the entire ride up (all the while my wife is sitting in the rear “closet” of the twin otter grinning at me from ear to ear for the entire ride to altitude…no pressure there). Despite all of my reservations, I had a good textbook jump (arched on exit, didn’t get any hand signals, only one shake on exit, maintained COA, pulled at correct altitude, etc.). It was like as soon as I stepped out the door, my emotions left my body and I started checking the boxes on the “task list”, but I wasn’t really there at all emotionally. When I landed safely on the ground, I was pretty sure I didn’t like it, but trying not to disappoint my wife, I convinced myself that the sensory overload was so great that I didn’t know what I felt. Of course her and her (now our) skydiving friends all told me there is no way you can know if you like it after one jump so you have to at least give it 2 or 3 jumps to know for sure.

The next few days after AFP1, were hell on me emotionally. At that point, I began having lots of trouble sleeping averaging 3-4 total hours of frequently interrupted sleep per night. I began taking natural sleep aids (melatonin) to try to sleep without much help and then started with Nyquil or adult beverages once or twice a week just to try to catch up on sleep. Additionally, I could no longer watch videos or read thru the next level in the AFP manual without my heart rate spiking into the 130-140 range and me feeling sick to my stomach. Also, I couldn’t not think about anything but skydiving all day long and my resting heart rate has been elevated to 95-110 all day every day ever since (usually 58-65). I almost did not go back for level 2 but ended up going back and doing it a week later. Level 2 was out of a smaller plane with a lower door and so I had to do a squatting lunge out the door and even though the exit was terrifying to me, it went very well (even got an instructor “high 5” on the exit). The jump went very much like level 1 (it was pretty much textbook, I completely left all emotion at the door, went thru the steps like a robot again and had no emotion). I did manage to keep my eyes open thru the exit and at pull time and managed to see my parachute deploy (personal goals/self-critiques from my level 1). I really remember the beauty of watching the chute open and truly seeing/understanding how the slider directed the Airflow and opened the parachute like a perfectly orchestrated symphony. I also really enjoy flying under canopy (I’ve always been a lover of aviation and flying so this comes easy to me as I understand patterns, decent rates, etc.), but the freefall still terrified me and the only way I was able to get thru it was to not “be there” emotionally.

I skipped the next weekend due to weather and ended up going back the next weekend (2 weeks since level 2) for level 3. I was scared S#!tless about level 3 because I would be released in freefall. As I stated about level 1 & 2, I become a robot and “check the boxes” as close to perfectly as possible in freefall because a big part of my irrational fear is that if I even move a finger incorrectly, I will tumble towards the ground at 500mph. As such, being released was very terrifying to me as I might move a finger incorrectly leading to my untimely death. Luckily, I got a set of instructors for level 3 that were really good and helping me manage my fear and are probably the only reason I was able to complete level 3 (and one of those instructors also did my level 4 later that day). Level 3 was again a pretty uneventful jump, I checked out emotionally, and checked all of the boxes and did fine (in fact I didn’t really move on release and would have never believed they let go of me if I hadn’t seen it on video myself: the first thing I said to the instructor on the ground is why didn’t you let go of me). Level 4 also went ok, more of the same: check out emotionally for free fall, go thru the check boxes to live, etc. I did have a little bit of trouble on level 4 when I went to do my first 90 degree turn, I bent my back to the side I was turning and went “spinning” (turns out it was only about a 270) in the opposite direction but was able to get back to neutral arch and stop the turn and then completed 2 90’s correctly. even the “spin” didn’t really bother me other than I remember under canopy thinking “well I just failed that level” (Turns out I didn’t). After 4 jumps, I still cannot find hardly any joy. The only joy I get out of freefall is the 2-300ft just before pull altitude. Knowing it is over is all I can currently enjoy. I do however love canopy. Unfortunately, even if I were to decide that I’m only ever going to do hop and pops, I still have to get thru AFP which is terrifying. you have to freefall to get to canopy

So here I am after a month and 4 jumps and totally terrified to move forward. My heart rate remained at ~100bpm all day every day, I still can’t watch videos or read the next level without spiking my heart rate and feeling sick to my stomach and my sleeping after level 3 & 4 had gone from nightmares with a few hours of actual sleep a night to night terrors (waking up yelling/jumping out of bed and seeing my heart rate in the minutes after this in the 160-170 range on my Fitbit) and getting mere minutes of sleep in the course of the night despite any self-medication I have tried to assist with sleep. Literally, every time I would begin to fall asleep I went straight into falling out of control towards the earth and woke right back up in sheer terror. I had to do a lot of soul searching in the time that everyone else is a sleep for a few nights in a row. I know my fear is irrational but it is at this point effecting my health, my mental wellbeing, and my job performance so after a couple of nights like this, I had to just tell my wife I’m done. Ever since I declared I’m done (it’s been about 5 days), I have been sleeping like a baby, my heart rate is back in normal range and I don’t feel constantly sick any more so I do logically believe this is probably the best decision for me. However, at the same time, I am in mourning/heartbroken because I can’t (or at least at this point don’t believe I can) give my wife what she really wanted. Also, I know that so many people at the DZ have supported me and helped me along and unlike most people who quit, I will still be at the DZ regularly being reminded I can’t do what everyone else there does and that I am a disappointment to all of those there that have “invested” in me, so I’m feeling like a failure. After level 3/4, on the drive home, I came to the conclusion that I would probably never really be “into it” and I would try to push thru for my wife and then rent gear and jump just enough to stay current and jump with my wife on occasion but I would probably never buy my own gear. Shortly after is when the fear turned to terror. During my soul searching, I’ve had a few thoughts:

-This is probably just not a sport you can do for someone else (no matter how much you love them) and If I’m to ever move forward, I need to find reasons to do it for me.
-I believe this is, at least in part, a confidence issue. I still think and move about like a 300lb guy even though I’m now at 206lbs. Every aircraft door seems too small for me, I feel like I’m too big to move effectively in the air, I feel like my movements will be unsafe to me and eventually others, etc. It also doesn’t help that every time I get new instructors for a level my previous level instructors make sure to come by and tell the new instructors how I “fall like a rock”.

I know that most of you are going to tell me that fear is a good thing and should be expected, but my questions are really:
-How much fear is too much fear? When does it become unhealthy/unsafe to move forward?
- when I concluded that I would likely never be more than a gear renting currency jumper after level 3&4 did I subconsciously make the choice that this wasn’t for me which allowed the terror to take over (have I made my decision and just didn’t realize it)?
-If I quit (at least for the time being), do you think it’s possible that I would ever find the right reasons (and maybe become more aware of my current body) to try again or will I effectively be quitting forever?

Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks so much for listening and giving me a forum to vent.

Marc



After reading your whole story, I can say one thing with certainty... Melatonin is crap.

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I have been thinking about a wind tunnel. the closest is about 4 hrs away. I think if i move forward, this may be the best option to develop some body confidence. I lost my weight thru changes in diet (high protein, low carbs, eliminated processed sugars, caffeine, etc) and lots of fast walking to maintain a target heart rate for a period of time but no real strength training. I am of regular build and now 5'11 and 206lbs.

Thanks for the advice.

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When I was in fl getting my aff, the wind tunnel helped a lot with the fear. The wife will love it too. Sounds like a nice couples vacation for a weekend. Let us know how the story unfolds. You've put in so much effort so far, it'd be a shame to let a temporary emotional block stop you. The only naysayers I'd listen to are your instructors. If they were to give you a heart to heart that they don't think youve got the ability to learn, then I'd rethink it. Otherwise, make a plan and make it happen:)

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Well, I can not speak about having had that much fear or sleepless nights during my AFF, but I at least had some similarities.
I started the AFF course, because my, back then, girlfriend wanted to start skydiving, so I went with her to try it out for myself as well, even though I never was interested in it.
I for sure, had some fear at the first jumps as well, and basically all the AFF jumps I did not enjoy and was also kind a like working on checking all boxes on the "task list" for every jump.
I eventually started to enjoy the jumps when I was cleared for solo status, and even more after I got my license and started to jump with other people.

For what its worth, my back then girlfriend, is not really jumping anymore, I made a lot of new good friends that I do not want to miss anymore in my life and I have logged well over 1100 jumps since then.

So, I am not saying keep on going to get rid of your wife, but maybe you will start to enjoy it if you decide to give it another try ;-)

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Elpnor

When I was in fl getting my aff, the wind tunnel helped a lot with the fear. The wife will love it too. Sounds like a nice couples vacation for a weekend. Let us know how the story unfolds. You've put in so much effort so far, it'd be a shame to let a temporary emotional block stop you. The only naysayers I'd listen to are your instructors. If they were to give you a heart to heart that they don't think youve got the ability to learn, then I'd rethink it. Otherwise, make a plan and make it happen:)



Agree with this - go to the tunnel and see if you can enjoy yourself. That'll tell you if it's the fear affecting your experience in the sky.

Alternatively, if you just don't like freefall focus on becoming a canopy pilot :)

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Congrats on the weight loss first of all. That is a big accomplishment in itself. I know this might sound weird but have you talked to a psychologist about your fear? From your story, it almost sounds like there is more to do with it especially since you have a loved one in the sport.

If you do stick with it, I would recommend trying to crank out some jumps quickly if you can. Waiting a week or two brings back nerves. I would dread the instructor jumps when I started since I had to repeat a few. Dealing with wind holds, the work week and other stuff would just cause more anxiety to build. When I took a week off and jumped daily the fears subsided quickly and it became a lot more fun as I cleared for solo, got my license and started to jump with people.

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keep at it, conquering that fear will be an amazing boost for you, when you look back knowing how terrified you were and where you are now, you won't believe you could of made it through, but you did, and now each plane ride is almost boring.

it sounds like you can get licenced no bother, then you can just do hop and pops.

but i suspect the free fall fear will very slowly start to subside,
and when you are able to jump with your wife,
it will all be worth it.

go to the tunnel, and teach yourself that moving a finger doesnt result in a 500mph tumble and keep lying to yourself that "I'm done" everytime the fear is taking over.

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It seems you just don't like it. The nervous part is normal, but if you get yourself out of the door expecting/experiencing no joy and still manage to complete levels you are better tha nmost.

Students and newbies get out the door because they know they enjoy the freefall. IF there was only fear and a task ahead, most would just give up.

Don't be so hard on yourself, atleast you know you have the guts to do it but it is not something that excites you. The parachute part can be experienced with paragliding. Try that.

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The fact that you post this tells me you're not entirely certain you made the right decision to stop jumping - despite all that happened to you. You got a lot of good advice here about conquering your fear. The windtunnel would indeed be a great help, because you'd get the freefall sensation without the actual falling. That is a great starting point for learning skills to help you feel in control should you decide to switch back to the skies.

It is also absolutely true that the first jumps are the most fear intense and that you learn to feel in control when your brain "gets used" to it.


But at the end of the day skydiving must be something that *you* want to do, however deep down inside yourself that feeling is buried.


Should you decide jumping isn't your thing, there is no shame in calling it quits. As others have said you can still hang out at the DZ. However, if all you do is sit in the bar waiting for your wife to be done jumping, the attraction of spending a day at the DZ will soon fade.
You might want to look into doing non-jumping jobs at the DZ (such as in manifest, or picking up people who land off) so you are not solely dependent on your wife for your interaction with the other skydivers.

Lastly, whatever you decide, you made a few jumps. If nothing else that will at least give you a deeper understanding of the stories she tells.
"That formation-stuff in freefall is just fun and games but with an open parachute it's starting to sound like, you know, an extreme sport."
~mom

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As has been said, you have to want to skydive for your own reasons. It doesn't work trying to please others. Wifey is getting her own buzz, so she doesn't really need you to jump for her sake.

You've given it a good shot, be proud of that. You have nothing to prove, and no one at the DZ will think any less of you if you decide to move on. Lots of people do.

Its pointless putting yourself through the wringer if you are getting nothing positive from it. The suggestion to take up paragliding or hang gliding, gliding or even getting a pilots licence, is a good one if you enjoy the flight phase.

Do something YOU want to.

Don't be pressured by what others may say or feel about the sport. Make your own decisions and stick to them.

I think you've made the right decision. Skydiving is meant to be fun, not torture.

Well done on the weight loss. There are plenty of people out there who fall like a cannon ball, me included.

Good luck.
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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Hi Marc,

There are no sane reasons to skydive if you don't enjoy it. Your wife is lucky to have a husband who is willing to skydive to make her happy, but I have to assume that if she is half as devoted to you as you are to her, she doesn't want you to be made miserable in the process.

If hanging out at the DZ every weekend cheerleading for her is no fun (it wouldn't be fun for me), try to reach an agreement where you aren't expected to be there all weekend every weekend. Maybe she can take a weekend or two off from jumping each month - and not just the weekends with crappy weather, because that's not fair - so you can do something together that you both love? Maybe you have a thing that you love but she doesn't, that you can pursue on the weekends that she's jumping (Sailing? Bicycling? Gardening? Hiking?).

but YES, you might come back to jumping and love it. You also might not. If freefall is the thing that's freaking you out (it sounds like you have a vivid imagination, and are thinking about how all the teeny little motions you could make, could cause you to fly irrevocably out of control), go fly in the tunnel for 10-15 minutes. They can teach you everything you need to know as a student except tracking. Once you have faith in your ability to fall stable and recover stability quickly if something goes goofy, you may find you've got more confidence. ALSO, tunnel is something you and your wife can do together that's kind of a lot like skydiving, even if you never want to jump out of another plane. Might be a pretty good compromise!

Importantly: congrats on your weight loss. That (along with the rest of your post) shows that when you put your mind to something, you achieve it. Nicely done.

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Don’t do it for someone else, do it for yourself. If you aren’t enjoying it, that’s ok. There is too much to learn and stay current with and if it isn’t something you want to do, there is no shame in admitting that. Thanks for sharing your story. Sometimes the hardest thing is to pull off the load.

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What they all said ^^, particularly regarding the weight loss (congrats!) and not doing this for anyone else but yourself. Plus, yeah, the sky will always be there if/when you ever change your mind and want to go back.

A couple of things I will add: if your wife ever gets into competition of any kind, consider getting a judge rating. You can help out your home DZ by judging local competitions/boogies/records, and you will be able to travel with your wife to competitions (she as a competitor, you as a judge).

Also -- learn to pack. It's one way you can support her and save money (not every single time, but on the days you want to hang out at the DZ with her). Depending on the DZ, you eventually might consider getting a job on the packing mat. Again, to save/make a little money while she's spending it. You'll feel much more involved in the sport and share friends that way.

I know you said the tunnel is quite far away, but U.S. Indoor Skydiving is now a thing. Many tunnels will be starting up weekend or evening leagues for all skill levels. Others have mentioned the tunnel, so if you like it, again, that's something the two of you can share (even if only the occasional weekend getaway to a tunnel to do some recreational flying).

Regardless, you are now, and will always be, a skydiver. B| Don't beat yourself up about keeping your jump numbers in the single digits.
See the upside, and always wear your parachute! -- Christopher Titus

Shut Up & Jump!

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If I was afraid, I would not jump.

I grew up managing fear and doing crazy stuff as a kid. I don't ever remember any 'fear' in skydiving but in my early jumps waiting to go up and waiting to get out of the aircraft were often difficult.

Some say everyone is afraid but manages it. I don't really agree that everyone is afraid. I think people are different and everyone has to approach the sport in a way that works for how they are.

If the sky calls you back, worry look into some fear management education. Until then, support your wife and don't be jealous. She will have relationships with other jumpers that you might not understand.

Note, I have a great non jumping wife.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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Hey MB,

In 6 months you lost a lot. No liposuction? (j/k) I attached a pic of the difference between 300lbs and 215, took him 3 years. Huge shout out to ya! congrats. His goal wasn't to skydive though, he wanted MMA status. We all have reasons for what we do, motives help.

Lets see ... can't sleep, all you think about is skydiving, elevated bio's ... FEAR!
Been there, done that, but I really wanted to skydive from jump #1. I would have heart palliation during the drive to the dz, in retrospect it may have been fear that I didn't recognize. I thought it was anticipation.

Different ppl take a see-saw amount of time to overcome their fear, fear of the door for instance.
Some in as little as 1 jump, others upwards of 50. That part (according to me) is all in your mind. My fear popped up differently on skydives. On my 1st jump while at the door doing the up/down in/out all I could think about is: are these airplane walls really this thin? I feared my release jump, "you really gonna let go of me!" Oh crap! what am I going to do now?

You don't mention being rigid on a jump, potato chipping etc, or huge letters in your log book saying RELAX RELAX RELAX.

eh, none of that really matters, what matters is what you want. If you really want to skydive, I mean have it in your mind that skydiving is akin to breathing, you'll find ways to overcome any fear, paralyzing or other. If you are afraid of dying, welcome to the club. You can die having this much fun. If you don't like skydiving I'm not going to try and talk you into liking it. A lot of skydivers grapple with fear of something, they either overcome the fear or stop. Just because your wife skydives doesn't mean you have to, just support her choice, by far you will come out ahead. At least you can understand her desire.

I had to laugh when I read you only enjoyed the skydive in the few hundred feet before pull time. You do realize how small a time frame that is. I'll give that, 'writers prerogative'. I've seen ppl kiss the ground after landing, no way in hell are they ever jumping out of a plane again. (prolly buying new undies on the way home) Kinda like the saying, " I'd rather be on the ground wishing I were up there, than up there wishing I were on the ground."

Those few hundred feet before pull time you enjoy I call anticipation, like unwrapping a present wanting to see what's inside the box. Your description of the canopy opening said a lot, you enjoyed the gift.

We all enjoy that gift :-D

You enjoy the flight time under canopy, do hop n pops after attaining a license, just do them from 10K. I was told that I would lose interest in flying around by myself and want to join in on the group skydives, I was told right. Still enjoy a high hop n pop sunset jump with others. Right time for the right jump.

Wind tunnels are a whole bunch of fun, unlike skydiving you are less likely to die in one from fear.

You are giving it your best shot, otherwise we wouldn't be reading a fine story and perhaps teasing you a little.(at least I am) This is as close to a real bonfire chat you can get without actually being at one.

btw, I had nightmares about skydiving early on. After I packed my first canopy to jump the next day I told Packing Cathy she could take it apart and do it correct. Thanks to her remark "don't worry, they are designed to open," I did get a hour or two sleep that night.

Do a search on Dan Rossi in skydiving, learn what overcoming something is really like.

Each persons fear manifests differently, hope you conquer yours. Touch your handles, touch them in order, rely on your training, that's worked for a lot of us. Soon fear becomes, "get on the damn plane already, can't you see those clouds moving in!"
Good luck! and an update would be nice, nosy ppl want to know how ya make out.

Edit to add: The guy in the pic is 5'11"

"exit fast, fly smooth, dock soft and smile"
'nother james

Imalooser.jpg

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Interesting situation.

First off, the fear is not unusual. Most of us went through it.

Also, fear is not rational. The simple fact that moving one hand just a bit will not send you tumbling, and even if you did go 'kaflooey', you wouldn't accelerate to Mach 1 or better. In fact, it would take far, far more skill than you possess to out fall your instructors.

None of that info will change your fear. If you choose to continue, you will simply have to keep going despite the fear. In time, you will work your way through it.

Don't take the 'this guy falls like a rock' comments from the instructors personally. They need to adjust and alter their 'neutral' fall rate to be as close to yours as possible. They call it 'dressing for success'. The harder they have to work to fall with you, the harder of a job theirs is. For a 'feather butt' student, they will wear a big, baggy suit, even adding a sweatshirt over it to add drag. For a 'big fella' like you, they will go tight and slick with the suit, perhaps even adding weights to help. It simply makes their jobs easier. And 'easier' for an instructor means 'better' for the student.

But the real question is: should you continue?

I honestly think not. As I said above, the fear is there for all of us. Those of us that continue for any time have enough love/desire/need for jumping to continue despite those fears. I'm not 'hearing' that in your post.
You are doing it for your wife, not because you want to.

The time commitment, the money involved and the risks are such that going into it without the desire is not the best idea.

You gave it a fair shot and it doesn't 'move you' the way it does many of us. Most land after the first jump and say "I have got to do that again. That's fine. We aren't all the same.

As was suggested, try some tunnel time. You and the Mrs can share some time. Kids love it too (be careful with that, they may love it a bit too much ;)).

Perhaps you need to get used to being about 2/3 your previous size. That can take some time.
We often say 'the sky will always be there' to jumpers who have to take a break for any of a variety of reasons. If you change your mind, you can always come back. You know what it's like, you know you can do it.
Remember, courage isn't the absence of fear. That is either stupidity or insanity. Real courage is being so scared you want to puke, yet going forward anyway.

I give you a huge amount of credit for even trying it. For a lot of jumpers, even getting a spouse or S/O to try even a tandem is virtually impossible.

I would expect most other jumpers to feel the same. We understand it isn't for everyone. The fact that you gave it a fair shot and decided it wasn't for you won't make you a pariah or an outcast at the DZ.
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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Marc,

I'm going to give you the perspective from the other side.

My wife wanted to try skydiving to see if she could share my passion in the sky together, despite her absolute fear of it. She spent every weekend for months at the DZ with me, making friends, getting involved with manifest, helping organising stuff for events, attending the bar, etc.

She finally did a tandem jump and found out that skydiving was not for her. She was heartbroken because she thought I would be disappointed. I was very understanding and put her mind at ease about the whole thing.

Since then, she doesn't show up at the DZ so often and I don't go skydiving every single weekend, but I reserve at least one weekend a month for us to do something different together. She understands it and continues to fully support my skydiving life.

Perhaps you could show the same support without necessarily having to jump. Depending on the size of the DZ, there's plenty of things you could volunteer to help, and be part of the community. Ask the DZ manager and I guarantee your help will be welcome, specially on the busy summer season. At my DZ there are a couple of people helping who don't jump at all.

On a side note, if you loved the canopy ride so much, have you given a though on paragliding? The thing is, it's done in a completely different environment from a parachuting centre, making you spend your weekends away from your wife, doing your own thing. But it could bring you that pleasure you have of flying a canopy.

Nevertheless, well done for losing weight and for being brave to try something out of your comfort zone, facing an incredible fear. The experience you had will be with you forever.
Rob Gallo
"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield."

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I have lost quite a bit of weight over the last few months/years and am having quite a bit of trouble adjusting to my new size, I can only assume you and I are normal in having trouble dealing with being a different size, I don't know if that changes with time. I do have one other suggestion, have you considered getting some counseling? I don't make this suggestion in order for you to continue skydiving, but in order for you to deal with any body image issues and to avoid PTSD or similar issues going forward. Yes, I do have a Psychology degree if you must know, just a suggestion for your mental health! :)
Mark P. Zanghetti
‘Don’t for one second long for who you were, but recklessly pursue who you can become.’ … We can learn from the past but we can’t get it back.”

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Thanks so much for all of the advice and support. I reluctantly posted this as I assumed I would get a bunch of “it’s only fear, just keep going” comments but instead I see that people have heard me and have given me advice both for and against moving forward. It has been good for me to “put it all out there” and get honest responses. Thanks again for truly trying to help me in this.

I know that my being on the fence and having a desire to keep going is only Ego driven and would most likely lead to an escalation of the fear/panic attacks, etc. Knowing how my mind works, I can see me saying “I’m going to push thru another jump to prove that I can” and my brain countering with an “ok, I see your ‘one more jump’, and raise you with debilitating chest pain that sends you to the hospital”. If I try to win this battle, I feel that I will definitely lose the War. If I’m ever to have a chance at winning the war, I believe I have to concede this battle, take some time to myself, Get my mind right, build some body confidence, and (possibly) try again someday for my own reasons.

My wife is amazing and I hope I didn’t give anyone the impression that she was forcing me. It was more like her joy and excitement about wanting me with her in this planted and cultivated a seed for me to want try. It wasn’t until I started having panic attacks (didn’t realize that was even what was happening to me until someone here pointed it out) that I started to question why I wanted to do this and started to realize that I didn’t have any reasons that were truly my own. I’ve had a pretty easy/sheltered life and I’ve never (and she has never had to witness me) struggle with something to the point of quitting/failing. It’s been quite a humbling experience. Sadly, I have given her false hope in the process only to pull the rug out from under her dream of us doing this together. At this point, she has accepted that I am probably done forever and can live with that, and I will continue to hang out at the DZ and be supportive of her in every way I can. I will try to find ways to be more involved in a non-jumping capacity.

So, here is the plan:
As I said above, my wife and I talked and as far as she is concerned (and quite possibly the reality) I am done forever. For at least the next 6 months, I’m going to focus on me. I’m going to start some weight training (not bulking up but going for fit and core strength) to build back my body confidence I lost many years ago and try to start losing the mental/emotional weight I’m still carrying. I might even give Elpnor’s “half ass yoga” a try! I will also take some steps to work on managing fear either thru counseling, apps, books, videos, or some combination of all. All of these things will benefit me regardless of if I ever get back in the sky or not. Then, if at some point, I want to give it another try for me (with my own reasons), I will sneak off to a wind tunnel and build up confidence and try to work thru as many AFP levels as possible in the relative safety of a tunnel so that if I do go back into the air, I will be doing it with confidence in my ability and a true understanding that I’m capable. I also made it clear to my wife that if she ever sees me go back to manifest (or retake the first jump course because I’ve taken too long) I will need her to give me a wide birth and stay off my loads. I need her, and she agrees, to consider any future steps I may take in this sport to be nothing more than a “one and done” as I simply don’t want to put her back on the emotional roller coaster of false hope. I truly think if I ever get the guts and confidence to try again, the best thing for me will be to save up the money, take some time off of work, and try to do as many levels as I can in as short a time as possible as it will likely be the only way I can get thru without letting the fear fester/manifest during the week between jumps.

I am, in the end, both humbled and also appreciative of this experience no matter what.
- It gave me the motivation to lose the kind of weight that has likely added 10 or 15 years to my life expectancy. As long as I don’t allow panic/stress to take those years back, this will forever have a positive impact on my life/health.
- Despite the fear/terror/panic attacks, there have now been 4 times in my life where if I got nothing else from it, I walked away from each one being absolutely impressed/amazed with myself physically, mentally, and emotionally all at the same time (how often does one get all 3 of these from one act?) by simply being able to force myself to get thru them. No one can ever take that away from me.
- I have made new friends. People at the DZ who never spoke to me as a spectator are now people I consider friends. Yes, I can expect my fair share of ribbing in the coming weeks, but I don’t think any of them will turn their backs on me.

Thanks again to all of you who took the time to read my story and give me support, encouragement, and/or confirmation. Ill be sure to provide updates if I take additional steps to move forward in the future.
Marc

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That all sounds like good reasoning, logical choices and good judgement calls.

Congrats on losing the weight. That's a very difficult accomplishment.

Congrats on making a few jumps. That's something that very, very few people actually do (solo jumps).
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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This might help:

https://www.amazon.com/Transcending-Fear-Doorway-Brian-Germain/dp/0977627705/ref=pd_sim_14_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0977627705&pd_rd_r=R24JA1T6MRWR9CQ9WJWX&pd_rd_w=Qd35E&pd_rd_wg=PaUnP&psc=1&refRID=R24JA1T6MRWR9CQ9WJWX&dpID=51S2YPc7mOL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=detail
People are sick and tired of being told that ordinary and decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am

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