I wanted to share with you a story of something that I experienced recently that was amazing, and had I not gone through recovery from OCD, I would never have experienced.
I’ll take you back just a little to January 2016 to start, when I got to go on an amazing trip to Tulum, Mexico. While we were there, my boyfriend and I went snorkeling. It was truly magical! At times, I felt I was swimming through the set of Pirates of the Caribbean. But, while I was snorkeling I also noticed that breathing through the snorkel threw me off, and honestly set off a little OCD.
So when my boyfriend mentioned scuba diving, and wanting to try that out together at some point, I was scared by just thought of being deep underwater and trying to breathe that way, knowing that it might feel ten times as intense as getting used to a snorkel.
But we love to travel. And create adventures. We do it as much as we can! And I knew I didn’t want to let anything stop me.
When one of my best friends got married in Hawaii last month, we were lucky enough to get to go there for the wedding, and stay for vacation. Yes!!!
But in making our plans months ahead leading up to the trip, we had decided scuba would be one of them. I mostly felt afraid of the idea, but open to it. My boyfriend reassured me that there was no pressure, and I could sit this one out if I needed to.
But besides the fear, I also had curiosity.
And a love for adventure.
So I said YES!
It wasn’t until about a week before that I started to actually feel some excitement along with the fear. I kind of oscillated between the two ~ feeling afraid to scuba and be deep underwater, and not knowing if I’d be able to go through with it, and then getting excited about the newness and the possibilities, and wondering what it would be like.
So the day of scuba arrived. At this point, I was mostly feeling excited! We had an amazing instructor who took us through about 45 minutes of on-land instruction – we learned scuba hand signs, how to breathe through the respirator, what not to touch (and I decided I pretty much would be touching nothing…), and what to do in various situations, like if your respirator comes out of your mouth.
Then we geared up, each carrying about 80 pounds on our back (I’ve never carried that much!), and waded into the ocean to chest level, where we could run through some tests underwater to make sure we’d learned what we needed to know.
I passed the test right away! But at this point the oscillation was back to fear, and I wasn’t sure how everything was going to play out. I was still incredibly curious though.
The plan was that we would go on two dives, each about 45 minutes, but the time really depended on how well we used our oxygen. If it got below 1000 psi at any point, we’d have to start ending the dive no matter what time we were at.
There were four of us plus our instructor, and we were all ready to go, so we headed out!
Within about two seconds give or take, I started to mildly freak out and pop back up to the surface. LOL! I think I’d made it about two feet under water. Yeah! 😉
It was new and felt uncomfortable, and I wasn’t sure if I could do it safely. It felt harder to breathe through the respirator than I thought it might. And my thoughts started to scare me more than my curiosity pushed me forward.
So I spent a good part of the first dive surface level. Watching the men below me explore the coral, fish, and ocean floor. Which in the end gave me more anxiety being “alone” in the ocean, hoping a boat wouldn’t hit me, and knowing that sharks attack surface level when they do!
Even though it sounds not the funnest at this point, I was still really happy to be there! I was still very willing 🙂
And at a certain point, something switched. It wasn’t that I all of a sudden felt safe, but my desire to try it out, and my curiosity started to finally be enough that they outweighed my fear.
So I pushed my deflate button (that allows you to descend), and down I went. Just a little at first. But I was scuba diving!! I was five feet under and it felt a little scary, but mostly great!! I was so proud of myself.
Within a few minutes dive number one was finishing up and it was time to head in.
I told my boyfriend I was ready for the second one, and though he was surprised, he was happy to hear I was up for it!
I already felt super accomplished with my five feet depth. I knew I was going to be able to push through on this second dive.
So we headed to another beach, where we’d launch for dive two. Our instructor informed us that there would be two caves we could explore on this one. I let him know that I likely would not! Lol. Though I hoped that maybe I’d feel brave enough to.
So here we go! Dive number two!
We waded in, and this time I felt ready, like, “Let’s do this!”
And I’m SO HAPPY I did!!!!
It was one of the most magical experiences of my life.
And I would not have been able to do this before. Not with OCD and the way my thoughts and emotions could consume and drive me.
It required me to TRUST. In so many ways. And embrace the uncertainties.
It required me to trust the gear – that the tanks were filled up enough, and the respirator would work, that the inflate / deflate button operated, and everything was strapped on correctly.
I had to trust the instructor – that he would take us on a safe route, and warn us of anything dangerous. And that his instructions were thorough and everything I needed to know.
I had to trust the animals.
I had to trust that I wouldn’t drown, and that we’d all be safe.
I had to trust that the uncertainties were ok. And there were so many uncertainties! The tank, the vest, the water, the instruction, the animals, the pressurization, the compressed oxygen…
And ultimately I had to trust myself. Most of all. I was in control. It’s not like skydiving where you’re strapped to someone (but still also no small feat). It was up to me to know how to breathe, to be able to clear my mask, to know how to pressurize my body, and equalize my vest. I had to trust that I’d understood what we had learned. And that I could do this. And that even with all the uncertainties, that it was ok. That I was ok.
If it hadn’t been for all the work I’d done to find my freedom and be living the life I WANT to live, not one tortured by anxiety, I could not have done this.
If it hadn’t been for the trust I had built in myself, and FAITH in that it is ok, even when things are uncertain, I could not have done this.
All the hard work was AND IS worth it.
Hey, I got to swim with this guy –
(I’m pretty sure this turtle was in love with me. He followed me around!)
And I kneeled at the head of a cave and watched these guys, only ten feet away from me –
These pictures are not from google. They were taken by our instructor on our actual dive.
If I had let my thoughts and emotions get the best of me, this magic would not have occurred. But I didn’t. And it did. I made that happen. I created that.
I felt the fear and did it anyway. I calmed myself down when I was nervous. I trusted. I had faith.
And then I let go.
So if you’re wondering if it’s worth it – if the feeling uncomfortable, digging deep, being uncertain, doing the work, finding the help – if you’re wondering, know that at some point there may be scuba. And you may want to go.
And ask yourself if you’re willing to miss out on this –
just so that you can feel comfortable right now.
Joy is on the other side of that discomfort.
Clarity is on the other side.
And connection. Peace. Love.
Life is on the other side.
So find the help you need. Do the work. Love yourself enough to reach out for support. That life you’re dreaming of is more possible than you know.
I’m here cheering you on.