Learning to breathe

Got my PADI Open Water Cert in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand!

“I’m gonna die,” I thought.

I could feel my panic attack acting up, and I had this image of how my lungs were expanding and filling up with water. At the same time, my left hand was hard pressed  on my deflator, and I could feel myself sinking deeper. It was such a rollercoaster of emotions – anxiety, fear, excitement all at once.

Underwater, all that you can hear is your breathing. The silence wasn’t deafening, it was surprisingly calming.

I remember how when I was young and I had asthma attacks – I could hear myself wheezing like a cat whenever I sleep. The very moment I use the nebuliser and mask, the hard breathing gets easier and I would feel so liberated. It was the exact same feeling I was experiencing. The respirator needed some getting used to, but once I relaxed and breathed normally, it got better.

“Just fucking breathe,” I told myself whenever I froze and felt my heart beating fast. I reminded myself of the many first’s I had in my life – when I did my first hot yoga, went for Muay Thai and even back to 2014 when I did my first snorkelling trip and was learning to breathe with the snorkel set.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am to Eli and the crew at Aquanauts. They were so hospitable, patient and took great lengths to reassure me everything was going to turn out fine.

Many times when we were underwater, I was so stressed out and wanted to surface immediately. Eli would look me in the eyes and take me in the hand to calm me down. Matt, my dive buddy who coincidentally was sleeping in the dorm bed next to me, also helped me out a great deal and often kept an eye on me when we were swimming around (though I really had a hard time trying to avoid his strong kicks when we were underwater ha!).


With Eli, my Dive Master

What a time to be alive, what a time to be breathing.


Olivia L.


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