Things had been going well. Lectures, rehearsals, medication. I thought things were being squashed. But yesterday there was one thing that reminded me that I was not better, not by a long way.

I’m a surfer, a sea baby. I love water, I love swimming and anything affiliated with it. I’ve joined the kayak club at university (rowing as well, but the kayak is the important one here) as something that isn’t musical, is fun, and will help keep me in good shape. We went on an excursion down a river yesterday, 6km, my shoulders are feeling it! All that was fine. But beforehand, myself and four others had to do a deck test with our splash decks.

If you’re unfamiliar with a kayak, I’ll explain briefly… your splash deck covers the hole you sit in, sealing your kayak and preventing water from getting in. It holds you there, no matter what. A deck test is rolling yourself over so you can release the deck and get out of the kayak quickly and safely.

I thought I’d be ok with this. I can manage large sea swells and being held under by waves, so I didn’t imagine this to be much different to that. So I rolled over, anticipating that I could just pull the deck and slip out.

Nah. Rolled over. Grabbed the deck. I couldn’t pull it out. Instinct came in then and I pushed my head up only to encounter the hull of the kayak. Then I panicked. They noticed almost immediately and leapt in as they said they would, but it was long enough for me to do the one thing you never do when trapped under water. I don’t know what happened, I’ve been in many situations when I’ve been held under and I’ve never panicked like that.

It shook me up. I really need to get a grip on this. If I roll in a river out of a controlled and watched environment then I can’t do that. Any longer and I suspect I would have opened my mouth and then my oxygen would be gone and I would technically be drowning.

I need to be able to trust myself to get out of situations. I don’t trust myself. I think that’s what it came down to. I tried once, failed to get out, and lost faith. Thinking about it, it’s a pattern that has followed me throughout quite a lot of my mental health problems. I try, fail, and run to someone else for help.

I need to trust myself.

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