Monday, July 25, 2016

Scuba Diving, an Emotional and Psychological Experience

I didn't mention it in my blog posts about our family trip two weeks ago, and I didn't think it was a big deal or would affect my life in any way... But two weeks ago when I was at the beach, I stupidly went into the water with a floating device and the waves swept me away and I couldn't swim against the waves towards shore. It was really scary and I was using all my energy to try to make it to safety but I couldn't on my own. Some surfers near me came out to me and rescued me and I hung on to the surf board until my lungs no longer hurt, and when I got to shore I just sat there and chilled out.

 I didn't feel so shaken up, per se, but certainly was very cognizant of the fact that I, as a trained lifeguard, needed to be rescued... I took from that a lesson that I need to get more in shape and build up my stamina. And maybe also, I thought, I needed to stop being such a thrill seeker, learn to be happy with the simple and safe, and not push myself to do new and different adventures and test my limits.

Maybe I should take it as a sign to cancel our planned scuba diving on our couple's vacation to celebrate our tenth anniversary. This being despite the fact that the whole trip was built around my desire to try out scuba diving, a dream I've had for years.

My husband and friends convinced me not to cancel my planned dive, that it wasn't unsafe or dangerously thrill seeking, and so today Mike and I, on the second day of our vacation,  went to scuba dive.

We geared up and then went into the water to scuba dive. The first minute or two everything was fine. However, the second we started getting a little deeper, I'm assuming psychologically I started getting scared of running out of air and I guess I just held in too much breath instead of letting it all out. We ended up surfacing to adjust my regulator, oxygen and vest a few times because I kept signaling the instructor that I felt a problem with my breathing. My chest was hurting me, I felt I ran a mile and it hurt to breathe.

I'll admit, that scared me more than anything, because it threw me back to two weeks ago when my chest was burning and I couldn't breathe properly and I couldn't make it to shore despite my best efforts... and I got scared. I was ready to say screw the money I spent on the scuba diving, I'm done, I can't.

But my scuba instructor wasn't letting me give up so easily. We went closer to shore and practiced just breathing through the mask underwater and still I couldn't. My chest hurt and I was scared, and though I tried breathing how I was told, I couldn't seem to get it right. I was near the point of hyperventilation. The only reason I didn't get out of the water then was the instructor's reassurance that it was all ok, and encouragement that I could do it, not giving up on me, so that I didn't give up on myself.

Eventually I asked how I was supposed to breathe, how long in and how long out, was told three seconds in and six seconds out, and finally that was the clincher. I'm not sure if it was just that knowledge put into use, or the fact that counting three in then six out was a meditative mantra of sorts that allowed me to breathe properly underwater without hyperventilating, but I got it and I managed to get it right without my lungs hurting.

And then finally I was able to swim over to Mike and we were able to explore the depths together, and had a wonderful, awe inspiring time. So fun, everything I wanted, and more.

I feel like I went through a spiritual and emotional life changing experience out there today. Like I climbed my own personal Everest, nearly giving up when I nearly got to the top, and then finally reaching it. I didn't expect scuba diving to be anything but a fun experience but what happened two weeks ago made today an emotional and psychological hurdle, for sure, making it an even more meaningful experience for me. It left me proud of myself.
But more than anything, it made me believe in myself. I do tend to give up easily. I do tend to get panicky and ready to quit when things get challenging instead of plowing through. Today it was like I was going in darkness, that I broke through it to enter the light. Next time I feel like giving up, because a challenge seems insurmountable, hopefully I'll be able to use today as a learning experience and not give up.

Have you ever been scuba diving? How did it go for you? Swimmingly or challenging like mine was at first? Do you tend to be the type to give up easily or push through? Have you ever had an experience like I did where the challenge seemed too great, you persevered, and it taught you to believe in yourself? What was it?


  1. We went scuba diving in January. It was my first time ever, and I can SO relate with what you went through. Here is my post about it: . Like you, I was ready to quit regardless of all the money I spent. I felt like I was one breath away from dying! But it was mostly psychological. The second dive we went on was MUCH better than the first, even though I was still scared. Totally worth it.

  2. The water looks beautiful. It sounds like you have a great instructor. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  3. Wow!!! Good for you for facing your fears and overcoming them. I often give up and I've discovered that over the years it has made my life more limited. A therapist told me that we stop doing things we're scared of and then we being to avoid things that might possibly make us scared. It is very limiting and if I were your age I would try to force myself to work through my fears and not avoid them. Yay, for you!!!

  4. Thanks for this post. It's giving me lots of food for thought.

  5. You probably got caught in a rip tide. I had gotten caught in one once and kept getting dashed into a rock. I couldn't get out of the thing and tried to swim out of it with all my might. Granted I was 22 at the time and very athletic and still could not swim my way out of it. Finally I got pulled out of it by nearby swimmers. I understand the fear because a riptide is something you can't see and when you re in it it really is a life/death situation. Glad you are OK and faced your fears head on!


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