If you can remember clear back to the previous post, then you will recall that we left off with me, a grown, professional woman, casually hanging out in a shallow 4 ft swim lane, contemplating my rapidly approaching, and inevitable demise. In other words, I was having a panic attack. In my career, I spend the majority of my time working with people who have anxiety, depression, etc., so when the panic hit, I was well prepared. My therapy brain immediately kicked in and told my (entirely sensible) anxious brain, that there was nothing to fear. “Look” it said, “you can stand up. You won’t drown if you can stand up. Now breathe… slower… slower… good. Good brain.” My anxious brain, in response, continued to cower in the corner and whispered “Don’t believe the lies, they’re trying to kill you. Blowing bubbles, swimming across a 25-meter pool, dangerous! Do it again and you will DIE.” After a few more back and forths, my anxiety brain eventually relented (under protest), and I was able to finish my swim lesson.
Now, I could take you through the play by play of the next few months, but the swim sessions became so repetitive that one started to blend into the next. Basically, I would feel my anxiety rise when my alarm would go off at 0445. I would drag myself out of bed, get swimsuit on, put warm (read, security blanket) clothes on over it, and head to the pool. Once there, I’d sit at the edge of the pool and complain to my friends that the water was way too cold to swim while the lifeguard assured me the temp was 82 degrees. Lies. After procrastinating as long as possible, I’d get in the water, loudly protest about the temp again, and proceed to thrash my way back and forth across the pool until I either ran out of time or somehow managed to complete the workout. I’d gratefully hop out of the pool full of a sudden burst of relief driven energy and take the best shower ever. Seriously, without fail this shower is the best part of my swim. It means the end of my suffering, that I’ve overcome my fear and that I won’t have to do this stupid thing for at least another 48 hours. Best of all these showers are perfectly hot, with amazing water pressure. Honestly, if it weren’t for these showers, I’m not sure I would have kept coming back. They are that good.
It took more time than I would have believed, but after about the 3-4 mo mark something clicked, and I started to get a hang of the freestyle stroke. That morning didn’t seem to be any different when I drove to the pool, and I had no premonition that history was about to be made. Instead, it was the exact opposite. I got there, took one look at the pool, and thought nope, hell no.
To be continued once more….