At this day and age, it’s almost normal for people to suffer from anxiety. It is because of a lot of factors. Our lifestyle nowadays is so fast-paced that we don’t even get to slow down and rest – the kind of rest where your mind and soul are also well-rested.
I’ve been suffering from anxiety for around five years now. I’ve learned to manage it, but there’s not really a “cure” for it. Like most mental health problems, anxiety is something that is hard to address or to even see. Most people I know who have anxiety are just dealing with it the same way- to just get used to it and to manage it.
In my case, I learned that working or keeping myself busy does the job. Oftentimes, I go to the gym to wear myself out and not keep myself wide awake at night. My anxiety usually kicks in at night before I sleep. It’s when I think of things too much, can’t breathe, and sometimes even pass out. I didn’t want to go through that, so I learn from it. I breathe.
I’ve been scuba diving since 2011 and I love going to the beach, but the last time I did, I almost got lost at sea because of my anxiety.
The weather has been quite unpredictable and Batangas suffered from an earthquake. We were in a separate island and we didn’t feel anything. The next morning, we got up to go scuba diving. The waves were a little harsh, but we went on. The first few minutes were beautiful, as usual. There were four of us: our Dive Master and 2 Intro-Divers or first-timers.
The Dive Master was guiding the two while I followed them all throughout. I always knew I was a floater, but what happened to me next happened so slow that I didn’t realize I was drifting too far away from my co-divers.
I tried my best to swim down, release air from my vest, and everything I knew to get closer to them. It is unsafe to go scuba diving alone. The next thing I knew, the air tank on my back was already afloat above the water. The waves were wild. I was floating back and forth.
Then, I felt it. My heart was beating so fast. I was breathing so hard and my eyesight was getting blurry. I knew this feeling all too well by then. I was having an anxiety attack.
I thought to myself: of all the times to experience this, why now when it’s literally a life and death situation? I could still see my co-divers right below me. They were at least 200 meters below me, but I was getting tired and feeling light-headed. My mind was in complete panic mode.
And then, just like magic, my hand slowly found its way to my chest – as if my body knew what to do at that moment. I closed my eyes and took slow breaths.
Breathe, I told myself.
I was there, floating, with my eyes closed and my hand on my chest. I was just there for a few minutes.
I opened my eyes and saw our master diver asking if I was okay.
I signaled that I was having a hard time, so he swam up to me, took me by my tank, and guided me back to the group.
At that point, my mind was still a mess. I couldn’t wait to get out of the water to properly clear my mind. Then we were out the water, after struggling from the waves for a few minutes, we were finally out.
I sat there thinking, I could’ve died or gotten lost. I could’ve not made it back to shore. But my body knew that my mind couldn’t think straight and took over. It took over. How magical is it that our bodies know what is going on?
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These anxiety attacks have been happening a little less often, but I know they’re there. The first thing to do is to acknowledge it and to accept it. Then you go through healing and forgiving. You forgive yourself for the hurt you’ve been through and you heal by doing so. You also heal when you do the things you love, go to places that you’ve always wanted to visit, when you tell the people you love how much they mean to you, and when you accept yourself for not being perfect.