Sunday, December 21, 2008

"I Am Bold..."

When I first left work I started exercising everyday for almost two years. You may suspect, by my online name that swimming is a favourite activity of mine. The second I get into the water I become free. I relax. I feel coordinated and at ease in my body.

The water feels more like home than anything on land. I have been like this since I was a child. I love swiming. For some unknown reason I have not been able to get myself to the pool to swim (except a couple times when my nieces wanted me to take them swimming).

My inability to get back into swimming is definitely "amotivation" as a symptom at its best (or worst). Everytime I think of swimming it seems like it would take a bigger act of will, a larger use of energy than I can manage to pull together for one activity. The steps to get into the water seem arduous and impossible:
  1. Find a swim schedule
  2. Decide when to go
  3. I have to find my bathing suit, swim googles, flip flops, shampoo, conditioner, brush, towel phine (an anti chlorine hair conditioner for my hair...or it turns green...really!), earplugs, and finally my swimcap
  4. I have to put my swim suit on. (It may not which case I have to go find and buy another)
  5. Then get dressed.
  6. Then get in the car.
  7. Then drive 1 km and park
  8. Then get out of the car
  9. Then go into the pool entrance
  10. Then Pay
  11. Then find a locker.
  12. Then decide if I am brave enough to allow others to see my frighteningly out of shape body in a swim suit.
  13. Then shower
  14. Then put the phine on my hair
  15. Then twist my hair up and somehow fit it into my swimcap
  16. Then find a place for my towel and flip flops
  17. Then walk out in front of all these skinny little lifeguards and everyone else
  18. Then deal with all the noise and put earplugs in...(noise in the pool drives me crazy)
  19. Then GET into the water...this has always been my hardest task...I always freeze at first
  20. Then choose a lane...which will be hard because I will be faster than the slow lane and slower than the fast lane.
  21. Then I have to dunk under water and get my googles on.
  22. Then I begin swimming.
  23. Then I have to shower, wash and condition my hair
  24. Then get dressed
  25. Then dry my hair
  26. Then go to the car
  27. Then drive home

If I do manage to get through the first 20 steps and actually begin swimming it is as though I sail through the water. I feel graceful and strong. Powerful, yet very beautiful (as if the two are incongruent in the first place). I feel like a fish, a seal, a killer whale. With each stroke I feel my breathing becoming more rhythmic. I become calm. Meditative. I feel soothed by the sound and sensation of the water passing over my body.

In 2nd University I had a MDE. I sought help at the counselling Dept. of the University. I had 6 sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The best practice that came out of that counselling, and the thing that I think helped me most was that every morning before my classes started I began to swim a approximately a mile every morning (32 X 50 metre laps).

I did not just swim, but while swimming I would repeat the following mantra, one statement per stroke and on the fourth stroke I would breathe:

"I am: (stroke 1) Bold, (stroke 2) Sexy (stroke 3) Powerful, (Stroke 4) Breathe"

Imagine how many times I said that statement over the six weeks of therapy? Over the 8 months of the school year. Within a few weeks I began to feel strong, sexy and powerful, partly because of the repetition of such positive statments about myself, but also because as I swam I began to have a better body. I felt bolder, sexier and more powerful, because I was becoming more like that mentally and physically.

So why, if swimming is so powerful for me, do I avoid it? I really do not understand the answer to that question, but today I had an epiphany that I am stronger than all the things I have believed I cannot do.

I can stop the Valium (I have so far), I can stop drinking...(getting better there too), I can go off all my medications successfully. I can. I am bold and powerful...I need a little work on the sexy...but I CAN get there to. I can.


Border Life said...

When I read the account of you and swimming, it is very, very inspiring.










I hope you find your way back to the water.

alisha said...

Hey thanks for the informative post, Swimming classes should be something that a person takes up when young. Well I guess an adult can also take up swimming lessons. Never too young to try!

Lani Waugh said...

I also have a close friend who went through the same situation like yours, and aside from her medication, she also took up swimming as part of her therapy. Recreational activities, like swimming, gave her the ability to value and look after herself, and socialize with other people. She also learned a better approach of making herself feel relaxed and cope with stress.