Scuba diving had never been something that I found alluring. The thought of submerging myself under 18 meters of water actually made me a little uneasy. I’ve suffered from various forms of anxiety throughout my life and diving was just another activity on a list of many that I considered ‘panic inducing’.
Yet there I was, 12 meters down the anchor line and clinging to the thick woven rope for dear life. Adrenaline coursing through my veins and fear tightening its grip around my chest.
It’s such a primal sensation: an evolutionary tool, a mechanism to cope with situations of extreme stress. A cold hit of adrenaline that surges through our veins as our bodies switch to high alert in a bid to combat the dangers we face.
Scuba Diving: Overcoming Fears And Anxiety
During my teens I suffered from crippling panic attacks. I was terrified of large crowds and small spaces, the passenger seat of cars and sitting at the front of my maths class. Yet none of these activities could ever be construed as exceptionally dangerous, so how did I come to associate them with feelings of anxiety?
Of what was I so afraid?
Throughout my life fear has restricted me, it has eaten away at my mind to the point at which I had given up any hope of ever beating it into submission. So how did I manage to find myself with 40ft of water above my head and another 40 below?
Three months earlier I had done something I never thought possible. Something that had terrified me since the idea was initially conceived, and which continued to do so even after I had made the decision to commit.
I had boarded a plane – FYI I’m terrified of flying – and left the life I knew, the life I had thought I wanted, for one of perpetual travel.
Having read my introduction you may now be wondering how on earth I managed to achieve this seemingly impossible feat. When I started writing this I promised myself I wouldn’t get all lovey dovey on you so I’ll just say this. It was love. L O V E love.
At the height of my anxiety ridden teens I had met a boy, and unbeknown to me this boy was to offer the one drug that could control the self-perpetuating merry-go-round of fear on which I found myself.
He is very scientifically minded and has just told me that I cured myself, he was just a placebo.
A vitamin tablet masquerading as a cure.
As we flew out of normality and into a nomadic existence I found myself facing challenges on a daily basis. I crossed rope bridges and zip lined across canyons, refrained from crying when I boarded aircraft and stifled feelings of vertigo atop tall buildings. Albeit with a little pep talk before hand, but still, I got through my first 3 months of travel without incident.
Now there I was, clinging to that anchor rope, paralyzed with fear.
Ironically I had already completed the majority of my Divemaster training. I’d enjoyed over 40 dives, sampled the delights of nitrogen narcosis at depth and learnt how to competently rescue an unresponsive diver on the sea bed.
So why had my anxiety chosen this particular moment to make a guest appearance?
The truth is I’ve no idea.
Had my recent bout of courage taken a momentary coffee break? Or had my wonder drug called love finally worn off?
Either way I had a decision to make. Swamped with adrenaline my mind turned to mush but one thought remained.
‘If I fall down now, I’ll never get back up.’
Travel had offered me the opportunity to challenge myself, to work through my fears and ultimately break through the boundaries of my anxiety. I couldn’t let myself wither away into the wallflower I once was.
Travel Offers Opportunities To Challenge Yourself
The anxious teenager within me had finally found enough strength to overcome her fears.
As I struggled to control my breathing my buddy came into view, his bubbles racing past my mask as they escaped towards the surface. Racing towards freedom, to where I longed to be.
My heart was pounding in my ears and my vision was tunneled. As each second past I was fighting the urge to kick for the apparent safety of the surface.
Grabbing me by the shoulders my buddy let out an audible grunt and stared deep into my eyes. He signaled for me to slow my breathing and take his hand.
I found comfort in the familiar bluey hue of his eyes and the concerned look on his face. My wonder drug was back and I’d just taken another hit.
To have accomplished my previous diver training and overcome my anxiety while engaging in an activity that I would have once avoided without a second thought, was a huge achievement, and one that marked the beginning of a new era of my life.
Those first three months of travel had instilled within me the realization that perhaps I was more capable than I gave myself credit. That I was in fact able to control my anxieties and actually relish the opportunity to challenge myself.
While previously I had shut myself off from anxiety inducing situations, it was facing my fears head on that proved to be a cure. Travel had opened the lid of the box in which I had lived for a number of years and offered me the chance to break down the walls that had once prevented me from exploring the world.
Descending further down the anchor rope and reaching the sea bed was the first step in breaking down those walls and the following two years of my nomadic existence have proved to be the nail in my coffin of anxiety.
It is currently laid to rest in the back of my mind, and although occasionally I pay it a visit when I find myself setting out on another leg of my journey, so far it has remained buried deep underground.
May it continue to rest in peace.
BIO // Charli Moore is a freelance writer and travel addict with a penchant for dark chocolate. In 2011 she and her other half Ben waved ‘Adios’ to the corporate world and jumped head first into a life of perpetual travel. You can follow the adventures of this writer/photographer team over at Wanderlusters or find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Tips On How To Overcome Your Fear Of Scuba Diving
Overcoming a fear of scuba diving can be a daunting task, but with the right mindset and approach, it’s definitely achievable. Here are some tips to help you conquer your fear and enjoy the amazing underwater world.
First and foremost, it’s crucial to choose the right instructor and dive center. Look for an experienced and patient instructor who has a good reputation and is willing to work with you at your own pace. A good instructor can help you feel more comfortable and confident in the water, and can guide you through the process of overcoming your fear.
If you’re new to scuba diving, it’s best to start with a beginner’s course. This will help you get comfortable with the equipment and techniques before moving on to more advanced dives. Additionally, practicing in a pool first can help you get familiar with the equipment and the sensation of breathing underwater in a controlled environment, which can help ease anxiety.
Breathing is one of the most important aspects of scuba diving, and learning how to breathe calmly and steadily can help reduce anxiety and help you feel more comfortable underwater. Focus on your breathing and take deep, slow breaths to help calm your nerves.
It’s important to take things slow and not feel pressured to dive deeper or longer than you’re comfortable with. Gradually build up your confidence and comfort level, and don’t forget that scuba diving is supposed to be enjoyable, not stressful.
Visualization can also be a powerful tool in overcoming your fear. Visualize yourself succeeding in your dive and feeling comfortable and confident. This can help build positive associations with scuba diving and reduce fear and anxiety.
If you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, talk to your dive instructor. They can offer guidance and support, and may be able to suggest techniques or exercises to help you feel more comfortable. And lastly, be patient with yourself. Overcoming a fear of scuba diving takes time and practice, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling nervous or anxious. Keep practicing and taking it one step at a time, and eventually, you’ll build the confidence and skills to enjoy scuba diving to its fullest.
How To Be Safe Scuba Diving
Scuba diving is an exciting and adventurous activity, but it’s also important to prioritize safety when participating in this activity. The first step to ensuring safety is to make sure you have the proper training and certification. Without proper training and certification, you could be putting yourself and others in danger. Certification agencies such as PADI or NAUI offer scuba diving courses to help you learn the necessary skills and safety procedures.
Before diving, it’s crucial to check your equipment to ensure everything is in good condition and working properly. You should check your air tank to make sure it’s full and inspect your regulator and other gear to ensure they’re functioning properly. Doing this will help you avoid any equipment malfunctions or failure during the dive.
Planning your dive in advance and communicating with your dive partner or instructor is another important aspect of staying safe while scuba diving. This includes discussing the depth and duration of your dive, as well as any potential hazards to look out for. It’s also important to use hand signals to communicate with your dive partner while underwater.
Diving within your limits is also important for your safety. It’s important to avoid pushing yourself too far beyond your comfort zone, and not to attempt to dive deeper or for longer periods than you’re trained for. Taking breaks and resting when necessary, and never diving alone is also essential.
Maintaining a slow and steady pace while underwater is another important factor to consider when scuba diving. Sudden movements or quick ascents can cause decompression sickness or other injuries. Ascending slowly and making safety stops as necessary can prevent these issues.
It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings and any potential hazards, such as currents or dangerous marine life. Keeping an eye on your dive partner and communicating regularly to ensure their safety is also essential.
Lastly, following the rules and regulations set by the dive site or operator is crucial. This includes respecting marine life and avoiding damage to the underwater environment. By following these tips and prioritizing safety, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable scuba diving experience.
Learning To Scuba Dive Can Make You A More Confident Person
Learning to scuba dive can be a life-changing experience that can boost your confidence in many ways. Scuba diving is a challenging activity that requires you to step out of your comfort zone and face your fears. As a result, mastering this skill can give you a sense of accomplishment and empower you to tackle other challenges in your life.
One of the main ways that learning to scuba dive can boost your confidence is by helping you to overcome your fear of the unknown. The underwater world is unfamiliar and can be intimidating to many people. However, through training and experience, you can learn to navigate this environment with ease, and gain a sense of control and mastery over it.
Another way that scuba diving can boost your confidence is by helping you to develop your problem-solving skills. When diving, unexpected situations can arise, such as equipment malfunctions or changes in weather conditions. Learning to adapt to these situations and find solutions can give you a sense of competence and problem-solving ability that can be applied to other areas of your life.
Scuba diving can also teach you important life skills such as patience, mindfulness, and discipline. These skills can be useful in many areas of your life, from work to personal relationships. For example, learning to control your breathing and stay calm underwater can help you to remain composed and focused during stressful situations on land.
Scuba diving can also help you to develop a deeper sense of appreciation for the natural world. Through your experiences underwater, you may gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the fragility and beauty of the marine environment. This can inspire you to take action to protect our oceans and make a positive impact on the world.
Learning to scuba dive can be a transformative experience that can help you to become a more confident and capable person. By overcoming your fears, developing problem-solving skills, and cultivating important life skills, you can apply what you’ve learned underwater to many areas of your life and move forward with confidence.