Know your limits.
I’ve heard this statement so many times and in the scuba diving realm, knowing your scuba diving and decompression limit, is incredibly important in dealing with the challenges of being human and breathing underwater. Not our natural habitat.
But what about other limits?
I’m leaving Koh Chang soon and recognised that although I haven’t managed to ride for a long period on a scooter, whilst on this glorious tourist island. One of my goals to maintain my personal freedom. Yet I still had the opportunity to complete a scuba dive. Another of my personal freedoms.
It was my stay at The AWA hotel in Kai Bae, connecting with the relaxation I found, when doing what I wanted and removing the stress of being a Rehab Therapist off my shoulders for a couple of days, which led me to the insight and to continue developing the courage needed to get out into the Big Blue with BB Divers (I wonder if that is what it means!)
I had expressed my fear to the dive school and the instructor they assigned, was articulate and clear in his description of our dive. It was a windy day and the waters were choppy – which didn’t help my fear.
I’ve contemplated learning freediving for a while, because by the time I’m kitted up with all my dive gear, I feel claustrophobic, but I realised I’d not done this for a while and needed to be gentle with myself. I had a divemaster and instructor focusing their attention on my learning.
A giant stride entry took me into the rolling waves and swimming to buoy line, I felt my anxiety begin to rise. The big orange buoy kept rising and smashing against me, as we came together to make our descent. By this time I just wanted to get under and away and I thought of the calm dives I had previously experienced and recognised that I found it easier to simply descend. Freely.
Not hold on to anything.
The challenge being to stop myself from kicking (a strong survival instincts – always steps in to save me!)
My first step was to practice mask clearing about 3 feet below the surface.
I hate this and it took me a long time to get it when I first learned.
The undulating surface water deepened, what for me was already a challenging experience and as I looked into the divemaster’s eyes – I realised the quicker I completed this successfully. The faster this part would be over and I could get on with enjoying the dive.
Trauma has lent a hand in the way I deal with certain experiences, and I understand that now – so knew my mental strength would be part of what would get me through but as I focussed, I realised again how tired I felt, from the work I had being doing as an Addiction Therapist on the island.
The concentration it was taking to complete the task, was draining my energy on a moment by moment basis, as I practiced my fin pivot on the ocean floor.
I had forgotten that a Padi Tune Up would enlist my brain, not just my brawn and my brain was already so tired.
I felt very alone under the water.
The divemaster led the dive and moved quite quickly forward and the instructor was behind. I listened to the sound as I consistently breathed in and out through the regulator – wanting to enjoy the experience but wrapped up more in the stress of it for me, already experiencing mental fatigue.
On surfacing I was really pleased that I had dived. Although the boat moved and suddenly we were forced to swim in the swell, surrounded by snorkelers looking like schools of orange seals to become ladder side again. Gravity kicked in as I stepped upward – managing to twist my fins to pull them off and hand them to the boat boy. Finally pulling myself up the last two steps as he grabbed hold of my BCD and let me cling to him, exhausted. Just for a moment.
My instinct had told me to get back in the pool first in the UK – this was a correct instinct and would have helped me to get over the fatigue and just enjoy the freedom of diving in thailand but my fear stopped me.
I was glad I had explored the underworld of the Koh Rang Marine park, near Koh Chang but when we had completed the briefing for the second dive – although physically full of energy, I realised mentally I had nothing left.
I had to accept my limits. Or I could make a mistake when diving in the blue.
Karim my instructor was very accepting.
‘It’s your dive.’ He told me.
Which was intended to free me up and so instead I lay on the front of the boat and basked in the sun – enjoying the freedom of mind which came with doing nothing and realising that knowing my limit and accepting my choice, meant that I lived to dive another day.
Another building block in the arsenal of personal development and another day on the waves over. It was time to go back to shore…