Out On The Water – All Alone

by xcannedx


I spent some time outside of the big, busy, never-ending city.

I felt it was time I gave myself a small break.  What I didn’t take into consideration was, “Where ever you go, there you are.”  I was feeling super overwhelmed and it was building and building and building… so I thought, “HEY CANDACE!  LET’S GO CAMPING! NOTHING IS STRESSFUL ABOUT THAT.  IT’S JUST YOU AND THE TREES.”

Fast forward to camping day.  I realized the act of organizing, packing, playing luggage tetris in the car, the 6 hour drive would not – in any way – help me in my quest to decompress, relax and discover my true inner zen.  By the time we were on the road – packed to the brim including an overly anxious chihuahua (like mother, like son?) – I had already taken my daily dosage of sedation.

[I must also add that before we were even able to leave the city limits we ended up double parked in a bike lane (PLEASE  I KNOW THIS IS HORRID).  I stayed in the passenger seat as a few needed items were retrieved. I ended up being told off be 2 officers and watched them write a ticket as a frantically texted “POLICE HERE, TICKET HAPPENING” as I mouthed, “I CAN’T DRIVE” to them.]

We arrived in the rain. The rest of the night was a blur.  I just wanted the air matress in the tent. Sleep. It’s cold?  No cares here.

The next couple of days I tried.  Hard. Tried to what?  Relax.  Is that even possible? Trying hard to relax? Even though I was grateful to be away with friends, I struggled. I found myself in a grocery store one day looking at beer and the next moment I was out in the car using breathing techniques and playing real tetris in order to thwart a growing attack.

I am continuously amazed how my panic attacks increase in frequency during times which should be less stress.

My weekend came to a head when we decided to rent kayaks.  At first I said no as I have a bit of a fear of deep water.  But after everyone pushed off I felt left behind and bit of a wet towel.

I quickly changed, took off my shoes and jumped into the last kayak.  I headed out looking for the rest of the group.  I padded and couldn’t find them. I stopped paddling and just floated there in the sun.  I was debating on what my next move would be.  That’s when I also had a moment to remember the reasons why I didn’t like deep water.  And then I noticed how far I had paddled. And that I had left my phone and my medication in the tent.  Well then.  I froze.  Now what?  I breathed in – and started back.  I focused on my paddling.  Which was the best way to paddle?  What angle would benefit my speed? I focused on my footing. How much pressure do I need in my feet in order to paddle faster? I focused on the giant waves from the passing boats. I noticed the tents along the shore and the osprey flying in the sky.  I noticed the islands.  I felt the warmth of the sun on my face. I was suddenly back at the shore of our campsite.

I had made it.  No Tetris.  No medication.  No panicking.  Nothing.

I decided to go right back out and find everyone.  And I did.  We all came back together.

My reward?  I nap in the sunshine.

If only I could take that paddle, those waves, that concentration back into the city, back into everyday life and use them as a focus when things get scary – when my breath gets deep – when I start to fall into the trap of the attack.  To remember that the water isn’t so deep and that I have the mind to steer myself, paddles or not, back to safety.

One day.