Swimming anxiety

Swimming anxiety

Previously on this newsletter

When I can, I enjoy swimming in our lake. It’s safe from stingy jellies, and you won’t get swept out to sea. It’s usual a calm space to swim and float at the start of the day, along with chatting with friends and strangers. Just right now, my brain isn’t handling the change.

And now, the continuation…

Recently, I was interviewed about swimming and anxiety. In the build up to being interviewed, I felt like a fraud. How can I be a good example of how swimming helps with anxiety when I’m still facing anxiety while swimming? I returned to the water and kept swimming. Exposure therapy and challenging negative thoughts can be a way to overcome such issues. I was scared and while my fears were confirmed every few minutes, I kept swimming. I did so for 40 minutes, and then the next day, and the next. While not even close to being “cured”, it’s progress and maybe one day I’ll be OK? For now, I know that swimming gives me a place to test and push my ability to deal with anxiety.

As someone who battled anxiety, depression and overthinking every damn day just to get the basics done, I’d love to live a positive vibes only life. It’s too short an existence to be living this way every day. Yet, I do, and I struggle and I fight to get past it. How incredible would it be to get up in the morning, excited for what the day holds, and able to function? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to grab a towel and head to the lake / sea free from anxiety and excited to once again be enjoying life?

Is anyone really like that, or is social media playing tricks on us?

Where does my anxiety come from? My autistic side? Years of being seen as “weird” at school? Did it come from moving house and school when I was a kid? Does it come from being adopted and an unconscious fear of rejection? Is it because I spent my youth on my computer because it was my safe space and the outside world was bright and caused allergies? Is it just… my roll of the dice? We’re all an assortment of genes and environment, both natural and unnatural. Maybe a way to deal with anxiety is to accept that which I can’t control, breathe, and enjoy what I can?

Something I cannot control are the migraines I get. The triggers are a mystery. Over the decades, I’ve considered a variety of triggers, including;

  • caffeine
  • chocolate
  • coke cola
  • bright lights
  • sharp reflected light
  • white text on a black background
  • black text on a white background
  • low sugar
  • not enough sleep
  • not enough water
  • my chair
  • moon cycles (I’m currently getting them in the first week of the month)

I’ve spent 25 years trying to figure this out, to notice patterns and log data. So far, my best guess, they just happen. There is medication I can take to lessen the impact, and besides that, there’s nothing else I can really do. I plan for an attack, and I try to live like I don’t have migraines because I can’t let the overthinking win. I lost 2 years of enjoying chocolate because I thought it was a trigger, it wasn’t. If it’s the moon?! Do I start a Change.org petition to blow up the moon?

Migraines remind me that things seemingly just happen. It is wise to prepare for something incase it happens, but occasionally, they just happen. My random anxiety attacks from doing something I’ve been enjoying for 4 summers? Who knows? I prepare for them by not swimming out my depth, so I am safe if they get bad. A tow float, so I can float if need be and watch the clouds go by. Breathing exercises give me something else to focus on. Does it help? A little. Over a decade, I will be able to see a change, but right now, it’s practice.

I swam anxiety-free in the lake this morning. I bumped into a few jellies. The waves were choppy, and the clouds were big and fluffy. I dearly wish for a day when I’m like an excitable puppy wanting to go for a run or a swim. For now, I make sure I’m safe, so I can try to be in the moment if only for a moment.

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