Have you ever experienced health anxiety? It's a form of both hypochondria and OCD that includes too many doctor visits, constant reassurance on matters there isn't insurance for, and a metric three tons of Web MD searches. I experienced it in 2014, right after two Boeing 777's were involved in a mysterious vanishing and explosion via missile. A lot of things could have spurred this, but the Boeing 777s (and also, though I was somewhat recovered by the next year, the Germanwings Airbus A320 that was driven into the French alps by its co-pilot) were what stood out to me as I look back.
Studying conspiracy theories is the best method of stabilizing my health anxiety and I learned that in CBT.
The Mysterious Disappearance of the World's Most Famous Boeing 777
Conspiracies were stronger than ever when Malaysian Airlines MH370, a Boeing 777, disappeared in the middle of a flight. It's been four years since it happened, which I can hardly believe and I'm sure the families of those onboard have even more trouble digesting it. What that means is that it's also been 4 years since my brush with health anxiety stopped me from going on my very first flight.
It was fun for a while, being an armchair detective. Even rock star Courtney Love spent time on the website they set up so that people at home could use satellite images to try and locate any part of the fallen aircraft. I spent a good chunk of time doing the same thing; a way of passing the time that wasn't social media.
Another Bermuda Triangle?
Whenever you think of missing planes or vehicles going missing in the middle of a flight/drive, the first thing that comes to mind is the Bermuda Triangle. The Bermuda Triangle is a loosely defined area in the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere between Florida, Puerto Rico, and the islands of Bermuda, where legend has it that a lot of ships and aircraft went missing.
Whether you believe this or not, it's been rumored that there are other spots on earth that have similar occurrences. Could there be one closer to the Indian Ocean? There have been rumblings and rumors for decades. Could it be that a Boeing 777, as big as one is, could disappear without warning?
Sure, this conspiracy of planes disappearing into thin air is super comforting to an anxiety sufferer...but I guess, at least, you wouldn't know you were going to suffer.
In the post 9/11 world, it's not really hard to look around at people on a flight and wonder if any of them are biding their time before they hijack the plane. There are so many protocols and checks in airports now that the likelihood of this happening is insanely low, but if you have a nervous personality, this will happen to you on planes, trains, and even automobiles.
Another of the MH370 theories is that the Boeing 777 was hijacked by a mysterious secret passenger. Think D.B. Cooper. This conspiracy was also perpetuated by a Russian news outlet that reported only weeks before the tragedy of another Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, MH17, that Afghanistan had hijacked the plane and the passengers were now living in mud huts.
Sure, this is Soviet propaganda at its most powerful, but news on the internet spreads like wildfire, and seeing that on a news feed is clearly also comforting to the average anxiety-sufferer. What can we say? #FAKENEWS
MH370 was accidentally shot down
In what would become the weirdest and most prophetic of the theories out there, a book about the disappearance of the Boeing 777 claimed that the flight was accidentally shot down during a military operation. The book was dismissed because that could never ever happen. At least, not until matching passenger plane MH17 was accidentally shot down in Ukraine.
Sure, I'm not going to be flying into an airspace close to military weapons anytime soon, but maybe after my news outlet comment, pro-Russian rebels will come to me...
The Pilot Committed Suicide
In what would be the SECOND weirdest and most prophetic of theories, conspiracy theorists from every country brought up the fact that the pilot could have committed suicide and took the passengers with him.
This has been almost disproven by Malaysian Airlines who have said that both pilots on the Boeing 777 had excellent records and didn't show any signs of depression or any illness that could drive a person to do that to so many people.
But then came Germanwings Airbus A320, where the co-pilot heartlessly decided to do just that.
Sure, the pilots on the missing flight may have had clean bills of health, but my anxiety clearly does not allow me the same cause of comfort.
I bet this came from The X-Files' Special Agent Mulder himself (if he was real, because in this situation we're pretending aliens are). Lots of people believe that the plane was abducted by aliens for them to study. It's this theory that brings me the most comfort. If aliens exist, maybe they have WiFi and good food.
Sure, aliens can exist, and clearly they're out to abduct and harm us all if you ask anxiety's flawed logic. Besides, they'd fare better with the crew of a Boeing 747.
When I write this stuff down, it becomes easier for me to deal with the fact that I could die at any time and I should stop thinking I have every illness that has ever been diagnosed, because it sounds dumb.
What Could a Missing Boeing 777 Have To Do With the State of My Subconscious?
As it turns out, it has a lot to do with it
Those aircraft tragedies were significant to my mind at the time because it all happened at the same point in my life. The brain and health anxiety are funny like that: suggestion is their kryptonite.