When you meet someone who is to instruct you and know they are sharing tips and tools which enable you to rise above the fear and at the end of a session you feel empowered. Isn’t this what everyone wants from a good Therapist?
Although this session wasn’t counselling. It was my second pool dive with local dive school: Dive Odyssea
Cerys was to be my instructor on this occasion. I’d recognised after my first pool session with Rob another element of what I actually wanted to gain from my 6 pool sessions, alongside developing my confidence in scuba diving, was to find my voice underwater.
My nerves got the better of me initially and I was chatty like I can be when anxious but when I discovered Cerys responding to me normally and addressing my fears, concerns and thoughts, simply with answers and learning. I relaxed and began to believe in me, see my ability and recognise how far i’d come.
I needed to develop an element of control in the process of scuba diving, rather than feeling like it was something which was happening to me.
My first thoughts when I learnt to scuba dive back in 2007 were:
I’ve discovered terror sitting at the bottom of the shallow end. The others have discovered diving!
I showed Cerys the carabiner clip I’d brought with me, to help gain the dive leads attention and together we went through the process of how I would practice being assertive underwater, to make myself heard, listened too and taken seriously.
She went through a series of steps with me to assist the process.
- Click my carabiner so that she could hear me, if she couldn’t see me.
- Signal her to stop. So she’d pay attention
- Let her know my needs (knowing common hand signals important here)
- Sort out the difficulty or challenge if possible
- Then, either end or continue the dive
The first signal: hold both hands up with palms flat and facing forward. It felt an really assertive motion in the water and a definite way, in which to get the attention of the instructor. Before then addressing my issue.
The next signal when they responded to me – was to then say what the problem was.
- E.G. Had my ears not cleared.
- Did I have problem with any of my gear.
- Was I just uncomfortable and simply wanted to end the dive. (All common dive signals which I need to remind myself of. Doing the work out of the pool, is as important as the work I do in it. To help myself.)
Cerys suggested that I get an underwater writing board. Telling me that it could help me in two ways.
- Remind me of the steps I needed to go through when getting ready for a dive.
- As a means of communication under the water, when I didn’t feel I was being understood or was unable to clearly communicate what I needed.
The way she was working with me in the pool, began to help me feel a little relaxed and not as if my mind had to be so hyper alert to all the dangers. I thought and felt I was quickly becoming more skilled at being able to address and demonstrate what was going on for me. She enabled me to connect with my personal power through the process. This allowed me to feel I had more control of the experience.
I was impressed with her teaching and recognised her as a good instructor – as I felt that she wasn’t just teaching diving. She was teaching me diving.
I only had two weights on my belt, as this was fresh water in the pool and not as dense as salt and we began our descent. I felt confident enough to not cross my legs, to stop myself from finning and we didn’t go down a line but descended straight to the pool floor. Yet initially I didn’t descend and recognised that at the first mention of doing so, I’d held my breath. My yoga practice kicked in, reminded me to breathe and I immediately let out the breath I was holding, alongside the air in my BCD and gently and slowly dropped to the bottom.
The pool was busy, which was handy, because with other people around me, I had something to take notice of and watch out for. Then I was able to put the skills she taught me, in action and I felt I had succeeded in knowing how to assertively address myself.
Ascending, I noticed how she slowly made her way to the surface and yet I quickly rose. I’d put air in my BCD to rise up – rather than releasing the air and finning my way to the surface and filling up my jacket, just as I reached the surface. On the next try, it felt much better to understand and do it this way. It seemed I was on a roll.
I also spoke about my previous dive experience when the divemaster had been in front of me and the scuba instructor behind and without the skill of gaining their attention – as a scared diver, felt very alone throughout the experience. Cerys let me know, to tell my buddy what I needed and expected from them, as we did our checks on the surface and if my experience of diving with them was different to what was agreed. I was not to feel afraid to speak with the instructor and arrange a new buddy.
Not everyone is right for each other and so she shared with me that I didn’t need to explain myself – just needed to know what was right for me and what I needed. Discussing how to go about this process on a dive boat.
By this time, I had deliberately attracted her attention underwater and was beginning to get a feel for what I needed to do and one of the last things she went through was how to conserve my air and keep neutral buoyancy, as I felt my fins scraping across the bottom at points and knew that on a sea bed I didn’t want to be touching corals or scraping across other divers heads.
Down to the bottom of the pool we dove. This time I held my arms slightly out in front of me in a triangle position and clasped my hands, tipping myself slightly forward. I began to fin, once, twice, then glide. The last instruction on how to conserve air and energy on a dive. I was told that I’d done it well. Which was really good for my confidence.
Finally we made our ascent, letting out the air from the BCD as reminded, finning my way to the surface at a slower pace for safety and on breaching the surface, listened as Cerys talked me through fin removal. How to physically support myself in doing so (by crossing one leg and placing it firmly on top of the other), whilst keeping regulator in, so it didn’t matter if I went underwater, as I took it off.
I felt really happy with the progress I’d made and to reiterate what I stated at the start of the post. The fog has began to lift.
I still have another four pool sessions left.
I’m just going to keep myself grounded, arrange the next one and put everything I’ve learnt into practice.
The main thing for me I think, is that I am able to see my own ability and with that insight, can trust myself out in the blue.
What skills have you developed to help yourself do something which you’ve always wanted to?