I don’t blog much but I thought about this last night on my train journey home and figured it was worth sharing and may even help some one.
I have been at University studying for my masters since September. One of the first things I did was contact the mental health support team who have proved to be invaluable to me in helping me adjust and cope with university life. I have also been speaking to my doctor a lot as I could feel that things were getting on top of me. This resulted in a prescription of sleeping pills, which I use as sparingly as I possibly can, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CGT) which so far seems to be working.
After having a small break down at Christmas and attending a few CGT appointments I decided to book onto a swim training course held at the University. The course is designed to improve your technique. Not swimming for over ten years I figured that my technique could really use some improvement.
I was prompted to write after speaking with one of the other attendees about how long we have been out of the water. I used to be incredibly fit as a child and had been swimming since my mother took me when I was a baby. At the age of six I was asked to train for an Olympic team which I turned down. I do not regret it, at the age of six I think it’s quite insightful to have realised that I swam for fun and had little interest in competitive swimming. I continued to swim throughout most of my childhood. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I started to spend less time in the pool and by the age of 16 I stopped completely.
It’s a harsh realisation that I have had issues with mental health from such a young age. I try not to think back now as I find it painful and I don’t want to reinforce how I perceived myself then. The young woman I was speaking with had been out of training for around 4 years due, in part, to an injury. She is a fabulous swimmer too. After speaking to her I did the maths. I am coming up to my 32nd birthday in August. I stopped swimming properly from the age of 14 and altogether at 16. I have had a 16-18 year absence from an activity that I love because of my mental health.
Getting back into the pool is one of the most difficult things I have done this year. I forced myself to go to the first session. I force myself to do a lot which most people confuse with confidence, but in reality is me ensuring that I leave my house to do just about anything. Before the first session I felt sick and had to hide in a fitting room whilst I had an all out panic attack. At the end of the session I hid myself away in the fitting room and cried. thankfully forgetting my goggles meant my eyes were already red from the chlorine so it was pretty easy to hide. Five sessions later and my stamina is improving along with my technique.
Last week I joined my local gym so I could swim more than once a week. Again I found that I had to force myself to go and again I had to deal with a panic attack before I entered the pool. I need not have worried. Everyone I spoke to was really supportive and friendly, just as they are at the University sessions.
I’m sure I will post (bore you all) again about my progress. I just hope that this gives someone the confidence to get back into an activity they may have given up or are too afraid to pick up.
Peace & Love