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Airport Security and Mental Illness February 28, 2013

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Uncategorized.
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I was recently invited on a “girls weekend” to Arizona, which is about a three hour flight from my house.  My husband bought my airline ticket a few months ago, and I was excited about the trip. Before I left, he printed my boarding pass and handed it to me.  My brother-in-law drove my sister-in-law and me to the airport and dropped us off.  My sister-in-law and I were on the same flight, and together we made it through security, to our gate and to our destination without incident.

On the way back home, my hostess dropped me off at the airport. I was alone and hadn’t printed a boarding pass. I hadn’t traveled alone on an airplane since before I was hospitalized (almost five years ago), and back then you didn’t print the boarding pass from a computer (at least I didn’t).  I managed to figure out how to print the boarding pass at the kiosk and was on my way to the security check point, luggage in tow. Suddenly, the voice returned.

Voice:  They’re going to find something in your luggage. You’re going to be arrested and jailed.

The voice came from outside my head, as if there was a person standing next to me in line.

I fought back.

Me:  I know there’s nothing contraband in my luggage.  I packed my own bag and know exactly what’s in it.

Voice:  They’re going to find something.  Just wait and see.

Me:  No they won’t.

Voice:  Yes they will.

I had been expecting to walk through a scanner, and I was worried about that. Unfortunately, my fate was worse. I realized as I stood in line and watched the people in front of me that Security wasn’t allowing people to walk through the scanner. They were making people put their hands on their head and spread their legs apart as they “wanded” them.  The voice intensified.

Voice (louder and more insistent):  They’re going to find something on you.

Me:  I don’t have anything to hide.

By this time I was shaking and had broken out in a sweat.  I began to worry that security would suspect something was wrong by the way I was behaving.

I knew logically there was nothing in my bags or on my person, and I knew the voice was just figments of my imagination, but that didn’t make it go away.  It intensified as they “wanded” me. The conversation went on like this until I picked up the luggage from the conveyor belt and slipped my shoes back on, which was probably about 15 minutes.

With mental illness, you never know when the symptoms are going to rear their ugly heads.  I know I will never travel alone on an airplane again.

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