Keeping the lizard brain in check.

Posted on Friday 26 January 2007

[there was a recent discussion on an email list I am on about fear. Here are my thoughts on it]
Lee wrote:
> I’ve called that the Zen of motorcycling. When I first started riding,
> when something unexpected happened, I’d tighten up, which is nearly
> always exactly the wrong thing to do. Eventually I trained my lizard
> brain to loosen up and ride it out. If sh!t is going to happen, sh!t
> will happen, and it’s best to not get to worked up about it right
> then.


I just recently experienced a small amount of fear.

We just got back from a week in Dahab. We went diving.

I am PADI OWD certified. Which is the most basic level
of scuba certification.

I did my certification work about 10 years ago and really
enjoyed my dives.

We went to mexico in 2001. We scheduled day on a boat with 2 dives.

We jumped in the water and floated to the top.
I felt like I could not inflate my BCD enough to get my head
above water. I tried to calm down.

Regulator goes in the mouth and we settle on the bottom
to sync up. We are in about 12 feet of water.

I feel like I cannot breathe. I am just shy of hyperventilating.
The dive master and I rise to the surface. We chat.
I convince him to let me try again.

Back down.
Same thing. I cannot relax.

I go back to the top and my day is over. I sat
on the beach and drank beer while the rest of the party
did their dive. and their second dive.

Fast forward to Dahab. This time it was a shore dive.
Strap on all the gear and waddle in.

Put in the regulator and swim out a little ways.
Settle on the bottom in about 3 meters of water.
I have never worked so hard to relax in my life.
I gave em the OK even though my lizard brain was screaming

Then a cool fish swam by and I forgot, momentarily,
that my air was coming through an itty bitty little tube.

After that I was still nervous but it was controllable.

I am still a “huffer” and I sucked that tank dry and my
gauge was reading lower than I would have liked by the
time we got out.

[my fault. this dive master used hand signals
to communicate how much air is left in the tank.
I screwed up the signals and the DM
thought I had more air than I did. I finally swam up to
him and showed him the gauge. we headed in]

I did better the second day, but there is still a great
deal of tension on my part.
[heh. I just realized I am gritting
my teeth as I type this.]

I will probably never get quite the thrill out of it that the good doctor
does, and I will probably never do as many dives as she does,
but it doesn’t suck.

I think I need to get an underwater camera, or a housing for
my p&s [ I can't see taking my 30D underwater. The cost of an
blown seal [[no no, it's just ice cream] would really ruin
my day].

I think the distraction of having the camera is just what I need
to take my mind off the fact that ALL MY AIR IS COMING THROUGH

heh. phew.
I need a beer.

3 Comments for 'Keeping the lizard brain in check.'

    January 26, 2007 | 10:45 pm

    Like the elephant said to the naked man in the woods, “How do you breathe through that thing?”

    January 28, 2007 | 6:34 pm

    Next time, see if your doctor will give you a script for 10 mg propranolol (Inderal). This is a beta blocker, short acting, (20 minutes or so) that will help. You may be able to get it over the counter where you are. Don’t take if you have asthma or diabetes. Chases the lizard right back underground long enough to figure out the tiger isn’t hungry.


    February 3, 2007 | 3:09 pm

    i used to be absolutely terrified of lakes (childhood trauma), i dealt with it pretty much the same way you’re doing with the scuba but it wasn’t working so well. one day when a storm came thru i went swimming, can’t remember where, on jaunita beach somewhere, enclosed swimming area, still very rough water due to the storm. i was so busy trying to keep from breathing in the water i didn’t have time to be afraid of breathing in the water.
    i knew it was licked when i was doing a sprint tri off of mercer island, was doing the swim and saw these beautiful little fish swimming thru the water weeds below me, i was so amazed at the beauty that i forgot i was supposed to be racing, and totally forgot about being in a “lake” (as i had always thought of lakes). i haven’t had any trouble since then.
    i think the camera is a good idea.

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