Friday, May 22, 2009

Correction, I hate my diving instructor.

Today was our last day of and my last chance to get my certification. I woke up and the anxiety was still there. The one looming skill I had to complete still scared the bejesus out of me. And unfortunately my biggest ally Avishai, was not coming out with us – he was incredibly hungover. But good thing Carmel was still coming out. I needed the moral support.

Back out on the water. I asked to start off with just getting used to putting my face in the water again. Ita agreed but after 5 minutes told me it was time to go down. Once again the anxiety and panic hit – the dread of having to do the skill was building. Ita made Adrian go first. But as I was sitting on the bottom, I started getting the urge to go back up. But I managed to calm myself down. Plus I knew I could do the last remaining skills and thought maybe doing them would build up my confidence. But when it came time to do the controlled emergency ascent (that’s where you pretend to run out of air and slowly go without air and without inflating your bcd), I had a tiny bit of trouble at the top (couldn’t remember how to manually inflate my bcd at first) which did nothing for building the confidence. It was just a little thing but it was enough.

It didn’t matter that one part of my brain was telling me I was overreacting and being stupid. The other part of my brain telling me to get out of the water was louder and more aggressive. As we continued on the fun part of the dive, I developed tunnel vision and didn’t register any fish or coral. All I could think about was the next dive and that stupid mask off swim. I didn’t trust my instructor and that’s what I needed most at the moment. So I decided that was it.

On the surface, I told Adrian I was done and wouldn’t be going back down. He sweetly said that if I wasn’t going to do it, he didn’t want to finish either. But I told him not to be stupid. We’d spent the money and he was thisclose to getting certified so he should get down there and finish up (photo above). When I told Ita he just sort of shrugged and suggested I do some snorkeling while they were down. Now I don’t think he meant to be a jackass. I just think he couldn’t be bothered or maybe he just wasn’t good with stress. Whatever the reason it made me feel like the freak.

When Adrian came back up, he had completed all his skills and was now a certified diver. And back on land we went into the office to finish his paperwork. Kim was there and when she heard I hadn’t finished, she offered to take me down. But I declined. The whole school now felt tainted and just wanted to get away from it.

I hopped online and proclaimed my diving failure on facebook. Immediately, I heard from lots of people about their own diving panic attacks, including from divemaster Cindi, and fellow rtw’er Donna. Both helped to talk me off the ledge. And (like many of you folks) told me that I should probably get a new instructor. That maybe true but at that moment I just wanted to get far away from diving.

(I just wanted to give another special shout out and thank you to Cindi and Donna. You two were awesome. We’ve never met but your encouragement and kind words were just what I needed at that time. You’re true friends.)


Katey said...

Thanks for sharing the experience! I think having a panic attack under the water must be a really horrible experience.

Would you still recommend Honduras as a good place to learn? Somebody suggested doing the theory side of things in the UK before we go but I'd probably want it all fresh in my head!

Still our trip is still a long way off so plenty of time to think about it while we save save save! Until then it's just living vicariously through others trips!

liz and adrian said...

It was pretty terrifying but I've fully recovered.

You can definitely do some of the diving before you head out into the sea - including most of these dreaded skills. Of course it will be more expensive but if you're nervous, a swimming pool is a lot more manageable than the open sea.

There are 20+ dive schools on Utila, they're all around the same price ($280 US). Some offer free accommodation and or free dives, and or free food. But what I've learned is that meeting your teacher and developing a rapport is the most important thing. And if you don't love your teacher immediately, ask for a new one.

Where I had a good experience was at the Utila Dive Centre. However, at Cross Creek I had a great experience with Nico.

Totally understand about the planning and dreaming and hoping and wishing. I became addicted to travel blogs about 4 or 5 years ago and it really helped to fill the gap before we could get on the road.

Good luck Katey. You can do it.

Cindi said...

Anytime! I just LOVE diving so much and wanted you to feel the diving love too! Haha. So glad it worked out for you and proud of you for giving it another try.

liz and adrian said...

you rawk cindi.
here's a heavy metal salute for you


cheryl said...

i keep waiting for the happy ending...but am getting caught up, so fingers crossed! :)

liz and adrian said...

well you don't have to wait long.