January 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm 7 comments

Another milestone. I went swimming today. That probably doesn’t sound like much, but it was a huge step forward for me in a number of ways.

Firstly, there’s the scars. I’m used to wearing short-sleeves now, but my worst scars are on my upper arms and shoulders and tend to be hidden by a t-shirt. So going swimming involved being OK about having those visible. That was a little step – one that I’ve prepared myself well for over the last six months or so.

The big step was the fact that I willingly put myself in a new situation that would have pushed a number of my panic buttons before. Growing up as the fat kid and still being a bit overweight now, I’ve never really liked being less than fully clothed. I’ve used clothes as something to hide behind. That started to change last year when I started wearing bright colours sometimes, but obviously there’s a big difference between wearing bright colours and wearing just swimming trunks.

Because I always sucked at sports and fitness activities, they’ve been something I’ve mostly avoided, especially where people can see. People laughed at me when I was growing up when I tried to do this kind of stuff, so it was easier not to try. And being in that situation, on my own, is scary.

But I want to be fit and active. I’ve started working towards getting fitter and swimming is one of the ways I want to use to get there. I always liked swimming when I was a kid and it’s the only form of exercise I’ve ever really found fun. And these reasons I had for avoiding it all seem a bit silly. The feelings they cause are real, but the reasons themselves are just remnants of the problems I’ve had.

It surprised me how hard it was. I kept trying to talk myself out of going, overthinking it way too much. But I kept myself calm. The way I figured it, the worst that could happen is that I could look dumb, unfit and scarred in front of some people who don’t know me who I’ll probably never see again. And the first time you do anything is always the hardest, so if I did go, it’d be much easier the next time. In fact, trying other things would be easier, too. There were good reasons to try and only bad reasons not to.

One of the rules I’ve made that’s worked so well for many thing is this: I don’t have to feel bad about any failing or fault that I’m actively trying to fix. This worked with getting my teeth sorted out (I don’t have to feel bad about my teeth being in awful condition when I’m fixing it by going to the dentist). And it’s worked now (I don’t have to feel bad about being unfit, when I’m trying to get fitter).

So I went today after work. I haven’t been swimming in ten years. Apparently, I’m rather less bouyant than I was back then, but I soon got over the “OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO DROWN” feeling and moved on to the “OH MY GOD I’M SO OUT OF BREATH” feeling after each length. In the end I only managed six or eight 25m lengths before I got out the pool, with quite long rests in between each of them. And I felt absolutely exhausted afterwards. But I did it, and I’m going to do it again. I’ll be able to do more lengths next time, too.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Christmas with my parents

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. eccedentesiast  |  January 21, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    I recently got in the pool for the first time since I started self harming. It was with nephew (4) and niece (2) and no one said anything. Perhaps a few looks from other swimmers but I did it and it was definitely an achievement as it definitely is for you.

    Take care x

  • 2. patientanonymous  |  March 23, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Hi hon’. Sorry for being absent for so long…again, not reading anyone!

    However, so proud of you! *hugs*

    I don’t know if you recall the post I wrote ages ago about what people thought about showing their scars in public etc… I don’t care–I show mine. Anyway, I think that’s massive for you to have the courage to do so when you normally cover up.

    I can identify with you in not being so great at sports and things. I never was and was always teased and picked on–the last picked and even still. I think if there was an option to “be never picked,” that would be me.

    Not so much swimming, though. I never learned very well and had a bit of a traumatic experience. I do have a bicycle so I try and get out on that. Still, I know it’s hard to try…get going… Just to even get in the frame of mind is so difficult!

    Anyway, lovey…this was a wonderful post to read. Bravo!


  • 3. lil  |  December 27, 2009 at 12:00 am

    I have 5 long very deep scars on my left arm, which I tried to hide for months. Eventually I realised that being the girl who never rolls up her left sleeve was totally pointless. I’ve stopped caring what other people think of me.
    Good on you!

  • 4. hcsatling  |  January 28, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Yours is the first (and only?) internet report where the subject of suicide was treated in an adult, calm, phenomenological way, instead of screaming “don’t do it, you don’t know what you’re missing”. I apreciate that SO much, on a dry cultural level before than every else. I’ts intellectual honesty. I got to my own conclusion on suicide. First, ethical: people who surround you, even if you think that they really don’t like you, that they hate you very much, will react quite badly to suicide. That’s a kind of fact. Despite as far as you feel uncared for or misconsidered, suiciding will cause an unbearable deal of pain on the people who surrounds you – often an amount of evil they won’t be capable of fixing in their entire life times. That’s for the ethical part. As far as our own epicurean part is concerned, we can clearly see that our existence may be doomed to an existence of subserveience and humiliating loss, to a state of being that classifies us more as insects than as human beings. Why should be choose to be insects? We know we are human beings, and if we cannot be anything else, our choice to be nothing is just but a noble one. Le us suicide if we deem it necessary, or you will condemn us to the acceptation of every kind of aberration.

    Peace shall be with everythinmg that exist, think or not.

  • 5. adela  |  June 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Your blog is very informative especially for those who need to know how to take care during swimming.

  • 6. doyourememberthattime  |  June 21, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    i know how hard this is. i am covered in scars and have recently been trying not to cover all the time. i love swimming, but haven’t been for a long time. i am planning to try on wednesday. i applaud your bravery and hope that i can step up myself.


  • 7. Motivational Speaker  |  October 20, 2011 at 5:41 am

    Danny Bader is one of the best inspirational Catholic speakers in Philadelphia, DC and New York areas.

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Hi, I'm James. I'm a 26 year old guy from England with bipolar disorder (currently well controlled). I also have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder (not so well controlled). This blog has charted my journey from mental illness, through diagnosis and, recently, into recovery. It's not always easy, but then, what is?


Self-righteous note about smoking

As of 12th September 2008 it has been forty five weeks since I quit smoking. So in another seven weeks it'll have been a whole year.

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