I know I’ve been living with anxiety for as long as I can remember, but I just had a flashback to the time I almost drowned in a swimming pool and the cause might have been my first anxiety attack.
I was a good swimmer. Probably not the fastest, but I had good stamina. I’m talking about me at age, I don’t know, maybe 9 to 14? Anyway, we used to have a free pass to a swimming pool in one of the largest hotels in Jakarta at the time where I had a swimming instructor who taught me how to swim.
Once I became a confident swimmer, I enjoyed swimming laps at the deep end of the pool (as in swimming the width of the pool back and forth) because it was always less crowded. It was an Olympic size pool with lines on the tiles to indicate lanes but no physical lane dividers.
I was in the middle of doing a lap when, all of a sudden, I thought about how deep the pool was (it was in fact 3 meters deep) and how I could die if I drowned. That did me in. Dread overtook me and suddenly I just couldn’t breathe and I forgot how to swim. I tried to stay afloat but that didn’t work very well in my panic. Luckily, the lifeguard wasn’t slacking in his job. He saved me and brought me to dry, solid ground, to the arms of my loving mother.
I lost a chunk of confidence in my swimming that day. It took me a while before I was swimming the deep end of the pool again, and even then, I had to make sure that my mother was nearby.
I’m not a confident swimmer at all now. I’m too afraid to swim in open water or to swim the deep end of the pool (when I do have access to a proper swimming pool, usually when we’re travelling) is something I’d rather not do because I really can’t control my anxiety, and I generally just don’t want to drown.