Monday, January 18, 2010

Out of air

The very first time I went scuba diving in the ocean was in Mexico. The area that I frequent is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. It was a sight that I couldn't wait to see.

We traveled out, who knows how far, in a tiny dive boat that held about 12 people. I didn't enjoy the ride at all. Unfortunately, that was the moment in time when I realized that I am prone to seasickness.

Our dive was supposed to be no more than 40 - 50 feet but the dive master assured us that 80 - 90 feet would be fine. When we finally stopped at our location, which seemed to me to be the middle of the ocean, the waves were rocking us so wildly that I was shaking and very, very green. We loaded up our gear on our backs and dove in.

Since it was my first time, I was worried about buoyancy and stuck close to the dive guide during our descent. It was clear and beautiful all around me but as we got closer and closer to the sandy bottom, I felt like I was out of air.

I gave our guide the hand symbol for no air. He looked at my tank gauges confused. I gave the signal again, "NO AIR!" He gave me his extra regulator so that I could breathe from his tank. Again I gave the signal, "NO AIR!" and began to climb frantically to the surface. I'd apparently forgotten the lesson from my dive training about the bends. My husband and the dive guide held me and guided me slowly back to the rough surface. By the time I arrived back at the boat, I was crying hysterically and completely out of breath.

There was nothing wrong with my tank. I had plenty of air.

What I found out later was that I'd suffered an anxiety attack.


Because of my awareness of it, the anxiety is generally under control now. I have noticed, however, that there are times in my life where I am filled with dread or underlying panic.

In looking over my unpublished blog posts, I found one from early March of last year. I remember having this same sort of feeling:

I have been experiencing major mood shifts from high to low. I can't seem to find a balance and when I do, it's not lasting very long.

I've noticed that many people around me and their children seem to be feeling much the same way. Even in my study group, there are several of us that have been in tears nearly every night for seemingly no reason at all.

Now I don't know if its an intuitive cosmic thing... if that's too woo-woo of a thing to say. My mom said she is feeling it. Maybe it's just us? All I know is that for the past few weeks, I have felt a heavy ominous feeling that has me emotionally unstable and not sleeping well.

I'm in a panic.

Gentleman Jack says, "Ask yourself why you're scared. Let the fact that there is no reason calm you."

Rationally, I get this. I know all of that. But with this heaviness in my chest, I feel terrified to think about:

My job
My health
My kids' health
My family
My house
My car
Me and my Gentleman

I've been hiding this from him and... even my blog. I can't explain this panicked feeling. It makes no sense.

The worst part of it is that GJ was feeling me pull away from him, which, in turn, scared him and then that scared me. Ugh. Vicious circle. I was only attempting to maintain some sort of stable front because inside I felt insane. I didn't want to cling to him as security as I was spinning out of control.

Then again, I should have known better than to try to hide anything from him. He is the most intuitive man I have ever known. Now that I've told him, he's offering me his "regulator" to breathe from his tank. When I was with him over the weekend, I felt so calm and stable. I appreciated his support however...

I'm afraid to depend on it.

When I'm scared, I feel OUT OF AIR and I'm flailing to get to the surface, no matter if it hurts me or not. I don't want to drag him into this place of fear too.

Something's changing. In me. In life. In this world. I don't know... The emotional whirlpool of a few weeks ago still has me spinning.

I feel like I can't breathe.

Like that deep dive 80 feet into the ocean, I know there's air but something is preventing me from the awareness of it. That something is me.

Inhale... exhale...


  1. Ugh! I tried to get certified to scuba dive with my dad when I was 12 or 13. I realized that it just wouldn't work with me for the same reason. I just never felt like I could breathe when I went under... and I was only in a pool. Unfortunately, it broke my dad's heart because I had been saying for years that I would get certified as soon as I was old enough so I could go diving with him.

    I'm glad Rascal is helping you feel at peace. I've dealt with some serious anxiety in the last year or so. I know how horrible it can make you feel and I know the feeling of not wanting to depend on someone else for your peace of mind. Hang in there!

  2. Thank you so much for writing this post. I feel exactly the same way. I really have no reason to "panic"...but for whatever reason I can't shake this anxious feeling. I have a great job and child, but there is always this anxious part of me lingering around. It is very frustrating to not just have complete peace!

  3. Ok so I'm posting anonymously because I'm afraid of sounding too out there... I just wanted to say that I've been feeling sort of the same way for some reason. I've been on the verge of some sort of emotional breakdown for a few weeks. Just out of the blue. I thought maybe it's because I could be pregnant, but that's definitely not it. Ugh, I hope the feeling goes away soon... For both of us.

  4. Life is changing. The way you feel about Rascal and your relationship is changing. And change, even good change, can cause a panic. I've been there. I felt it.

    For me, it was knowing somewhere in the back of my mind that all the good could go away, that the love could be lost, that the security would be gone. And now it is. So, I mourned my loss of him, mourned the life we would never have. And even though I thought that I never would survive it, I have. And I'm stronger now, maybe even a little wiser.

    But if, when, I fall in love again, I can't guarantee that I won't feel that same sick feeling looming again.

    Just know that I'm thinking of you, rooting for you, and wishing you the best. These burdens are lighter when shared...soon you won't feel it at all.

  5. Oh, T... I totally get it. Happens to me all the time. I've even considered seeing someone to talk about it and see if it's bad enough for meds- but I always convince myself that it's just PMS lol.

    Good to know there are others out there!

  6. When things get really good, my anxiety issues kick in at extra strength level. Sometimes I think I throw in roadblocks just so things won't get so good that I have to feel that panic.

    I wonder if it is something that, if we just plow through it and not try to get around it or over it or under it, will just recede over time.


  7. The timing of this post today is perfect. I had an anxiety attack, out of the blue, a couple years ago. I still have no idea what caused it, but I remember what I felt like leading up to it. Now, if that almost-panic starts to build, I know I have to duck for cover. Happened this weekend. For me, the quickest solution is alone time. Quiet time. No explanations to anyone about why. I can't preoccupy myself with doing something else, or trying to figure out what the problem is. I just have to be peaceful and let it pass. And it does.
    Maybe give yourself a chance to not try to figure out why? Just find a peaceful place in your mind and wait for the storm to pass? Wishing the calm finds you soon.

  8. Oh T, I sometimes think you'd not be happy if you weren't having anxiety about something. You are so hard on yourself (and I repeat) you are SO hard on yourself.

    You are a good mom. You are a good woman. We've ALL made mistakes.

    What you are my dear, is human.


  9. I'm gonna agree with QT on this. But I also know that feeing of...dread. It's usually followed by some trigger though, an awareness that only my subconcious picks up on or that my concious doesn't want to acknowledge yet. Unfortunately and more often than not, it's justified. But that's just my life.

    Hugs and live to you T. You let YOUR light keep shining on girl.

  10. Lol. That's supposed to read "love" not live. :)

  11. I can relate to this fear that you're talking about. Hang in there. This, too, shall pass.


  12. We all have anxieties, but you can train yourself to react differently. I would suggest letting those feelings come on. Yes, let them arise. Then sit with them, face them, breathe through them, let them pass. THEN fill your lungs with freedom and love and carefree joy, and remind yourself this is how you like to feel, and teach yourself that this feeling is healthy and the normal way you want to be.

  13. i loved your analogy of the scuba to your real life. I am certified, and at one time, did lose air. It's terrifying and to think that you experience a similiar symptom when you're not underwater when you have an anxiety attack is unreal. I found myself taking very deep breaths just while reading this and making sure I didn't stop breathing. I wish you comfort, peace, and easy breathing in all aspects of life.


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