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Old 12-31-2018, 03:14 PM   #1
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Scuba diving/snorkling, who here does it? Need advice.

Many years ago, I tried snorkeling and diving of sorts. The diving deal was done on shore with a compressor and full mask. It was an intro deal for people interested in going for their SCUBA certs, license, or however that is done.


I have swim in some pretty murky nasty waters both by choice and necessity. When I put on a mask, and go under, I immediately have a panic attack and nearly pass out. I don't know why that is. Irrational fear for sure. In deep water, whether I can see the bottom or not, I get the same response as being hung off a cliff by my underwear. Ok, like a fear of heights thing. If visibility is low, I get claustrophobic and lose my breath.


Has anyone experienced this? If so, how did you get past it? My local SCUBA shop has reopened. I'm considering taking the classes and possibly learning to do in water bottom cleaning and repairs for when I build/buy a boat. I also want to be able to take care of emergency situations like clearing a fouled prop without losing my mind or life.
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Old 12-31-2018, 04:06 PM   #2
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Comfort level is a bit of reasoning, training, and exosure.

I overbreath ( not really hyperventillation) till all the above increase my comfort level.
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Old 12-31-2018, 04:19 PM   #3
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This may sound like mumbo-jumbo, but it’s not:

For phobias like this, if measured exposure, rationalization, and guidance don’t help - Hypnosis can. And not even very much of it.

I have seen it. And if I had not seen it, I would not have believed it.
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Old 12-31-2018, 04:47 PM   #4
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Look for a cognitive therapist with a good reputation in treating phobias. From what I've heard, what you describe can be corrected quickly and easily. You can find out more by researching cognitive therapy for treating phobias.


Good luck!
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Old 12-31-2018, 04:52 PM   #5
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Get a good patient trainer who will take the time to make you go beyond your years. Last year a friend of mine who is dive master took a couple aboard, the guy was certified but the lady was just not able to put her head below water surface because of a phobia. In 4 days she was able to dive under supervision to 40 feet just because she was patiently handled step by step.

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Old 12-31-2018, 05:10 PM   #6
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I taught scuba at all levels for 35 years. This included teaching shipwreck penetration and fire department body recovery teams in zero visibility water and under the ice. So I have some experience in this area.

First, are you at all claustrophobic? People that are can suffer underwater simply because they feel restrained in there ability to maneuver.

How many times have you dove? Diving isn't as simple as learning the basics and then plunging into zero visibility. First. You must learn to dive. Then you need to gain proficiency through practice. You must reach the point in clear water diving where the act of diving (using the equipment) is a reflex as opposed to a skill you have to think about. Only then should you make your diving more arduous (master walking before trying to run). Then progress gradually into reduced visibility. Dive with a buddy until you have gained proficiency.

Panic and the flight response is normal. It's your brains way of getting you out of a situation you're not comfortable with. From what you originally posted, I would start with taking the scuba class. You will feel much more comfortable with an instructor and a dive buddy. Get certified and dive with a buddy to build proficiency. Gain experience before trying to put yourself in zero visibility by yourself.

Ted
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Old 12-31-2018, 06:38 PM   #7
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Don't force diving!!!! A diver should be calm and relaxed at all times. Little problems get big if you don't stay calm.
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Old 12-31-2018, 07:03 PM   #8
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Oc as the steps right. In my day, if you had any of the tendencies you listed, i would gently steer you to another hobby. If diving in a pool under controlled envirement causes a hint of panic, that would be way to dangerous a hobby. Hope to not offend, and all phobias can probably be curred these days, yet until they are be carefull.
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Old 12-31-2018, 07:07 PM   #9
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Noted Australian author Tim Winton wrote the novel "Breath",recently made into a film. Set on the coast of Western Australia it explores underwater oxygen use,in a typical Tim Winton exploration of human achievement and failing.
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Old 12-31-2018, 08:03 PM   #10
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Here is a new system coming on line that sounds interesting, especially if you have to clear the shaft and prop.

https://diveblu3.com/
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Old 12-31-2018, 08:50 PM   #11
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I might suggest you try an easy snorkel in some shallow, warm, no-current, clear water; like in the FL Keys in August on the bank. No wet suit, just a mask, fins, snorkel and briefs. No restriction in movement. Only if that is successful, continue.

Even at the highest levels of diving, experience becomes stale. No matter what level you are, it will take some progressive experience to get your head in shape. I have no doubt that there have been several dives I have done, that if I tried them now, I would not survive. There had been a diver, Tom Mount, that taught for many years, and included Eastern style meditation and breathing techniques to get the head ready to dive. We all have this demon that could take control during a bad dive. So, don't take it personal. The trick is to suppress the negative feelings through slowly gained experience.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:30 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by micheln View Post
In my day, if you had any of the tendencies you listed, i would gently steer you to another hobby. If diving in a pool under controlled envirement causes a hint of panic, that would be way to dangerous a hobby. Hope to not offend, and all phobias can probably be curred these days, yet until they are be carefull.

I agree. Start with snorkeling only. If you canít handle that then forget scuba. You donít want to panic while underwater. However you can do like my wife does, floating on the surface with a wetsuit (no weight belt) and never really going underwater. Just a relaxing sight-seeíer.

My dive buddy panicked when his mask fogged up. Very scary watching that and listening to him scream. The toughest thing for me to do was to keep my distance from him instead of rushing in the help. Guided him back to the surface. All that screaming and breathing ensured that he had no chance of air embolism.

That was his last dive ever.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:07 PM   #13
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It's to much to quote everyone but you guys have given me some good ideas to think about. Thank you.





Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
I taught scuba at all levels for 35 years. This included teaching shipwreck penetration and fire department body recovery teams in zero visibility water and under the ice. So I have some experience in this area.

First, are you at all claustrophobic? People that are can suffer underwater simply because they feel restrained in there ability to maneuver.

How many times have you dove? Diving isn't as simple as learning the basics and then plunging into zero visibility. First. You must learn to dive. Then you need to gain proficiency through practice. You must reach the point in clear water diving where the act of diving (using the equipment) is a reflex as opposed to a skill you have to think about. Only then should you make your diving more arduous (master walking before trying to run). Then progress gradually into reduced visibility. Dive with a buddy until you have gained proficiency.

Panic and the flight response is normal. It's your brains way of getting you out of a situation you're not comfortable with. From what you originally posted, I would start with taking the scuba class. You will feel much more comfortable with an instructor and a dive buddy. Get certified and dive with a buddy to build proficiency. Gain experience before trying to put yourself in zero visibility by yourself.

Ted

I use to think I wasn't claustrophobic. Altho the signs were there. I wasn't able to wear a full face motorcycle helmet until modular helmets came out. The entire front of the helmet opens up. I've been through three in the past ten years. If I start to feel suffocated and panic starts to set in, I open the front of my helmet. If life allows for me to ride a lot, it happens less and less frequently.



I have only tried diving, of sorts, that one time with a full mask and airline in a lake with low visibility. I was young and didn't let on to the instrutor that I was having problems. I should have discussed it with him. I tried snorkeling several times when I vacationed in Clear Water, FL and Daytona, FL. I felt as if I should try a few times before giving up. None of these outings were pro trips. Just friends out on a boat for the day.



If the visibility is low, I feel claustrophobic. If the water is clear, I feel like I am falling.


Quote:
Originally Posted by micheln View Post
Oc as the steps right. In my day, if you had any of the tendencies you listed, i would gently steer you to another hobby. If diving in a pool under controlled envirement causes a hint of panic, that would be way to dangerous a hobby. Hope to not offend, and all phobias can probably be curred these days, yet until they are be carefull.

No offence taken.



I don't have any problems diving with a mask in an in-ground residential type pool. I've done that since I was a kid.


Quote:
Originally Posted by diver dave View Post
I might suggest you try an easy snorkel in some shallow, warm, no-current, clear water; like in the FL Keys in August on the bank. No wet suit, just a mask, fins, snorkel and briefs. No restriction in movement. Only if that is successful, continue.

Even at the highest levels of diving, experience becomes stale. No matter what level you are, it will take some progressive experience to get your head in shape. I have no doubt that there have been several dives I have done, that if I tried them now, I would not survive. There had been a diver, Tom Mount, that taught for many years, and included Eastern style meditation and breathing techniques to get the head ready to dive. We all have this demon that could take control during a bad dive. So, don't take it personal. The trick is to suppress the negative feelings through slowly gained experience.



I have tried snorkeling in FL. Not the Keys though. I did it with general snorkeling gear. Nothing fancy and in my swim trunks. I've never been in a wet or dry type dive suite.


One thing I did do when I tried snorkeling was rolling over on my back as I pulled the mask off my face. That seemed to almost immediately stop the panic attack.
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Old 01-01-2019, 02:20 PM   #14
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Mr. Ben2go,
I regularly dive my trawler for cleaning/ zincs, and most of the time work is done by feel in zero visibility. The attached picture was taken on a rare "clear water" day. The entrance to our marina is adjacent to ICW moorings, and the tow boats switching barges keeps the mud stirred up most of the time.
I use a wetsuit, BCD vest, about 30lbs of lead (16lbs dumpable), and a regulator fed by hose from my on-board compressor.
Being able to adjust my depth with a BCD does a lot to relieve some of the stress associated with zero visibility disorientation, as I'm not having to constantly fight to keep my fat butt from floating!
All this said.....I strongly encourage you to get some proper training with a patient instructor, prior to diving with weights. Once you are comfortable diving in clear water, diving in soup shouldn't freak you out!
Good luck!Click image for larger version

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Old 01-01-2019, 02:25 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben2go View Post
I use to think I wasn't claustrophobic. Altho the signs were there. I wasn't able to wear a full face motorcycle helmet until modular helmets came out. The entire front of the helmet opens up. I've been through three in the past ten years. If I start to feel suffocated and panic starts to set in, I open the front of my helmet. If life allows for me to ride a lot, it happens less and less frequently.

I have only tried diving, of sorts, that one time with a full mask and airline in a lake with low visibility. I was young and didn't let on to the instrutor that I was having problems. I should have discussed it with him. I tried snorkeling several times when I vacationed in Clear Water, FL and Daytona, FL. I felt as if I should try a few times before giving up. None of these outings were pro trips. Just friends out on a boat for the day.

If the visibility is low, I feel claustrophobic. If the water is clear, I feel like I am falling.

I don't have any problems diving with a mask in an in-ground residential type pool. I've done that since I was a kid.

One thing I did do when I tried snorkeling was rolling over on my back as I pulled the mask off my face. That seemed to almost immediately stop the panic attack.

From the above, in my professional opinion, you're not a candidate for the type of diving you want to do.

We define "technical diving" as a dive where the diver doesn't have free and immediate access to the surface. This can be a physical barrier such as being in a cave, in a shipwreck, or under a boat. It can a physiologic ceiling like being in decompression.

I feel that you might be able to develop a level of comfort in shallow where you have free and immediate access to the surface. The problem is that you might be able to develop a false level of comfort in deeper water or under a boat....until something triggers your flight response. Please visualize being under a boat removing a dock line from the shaft. You turn your head, bump your mask on the propeller, and it instantly fills with water. The trained response is to remain calm as your flooded mask has nothing to do with breathing which is through the regulator which is in your mouth. If you panic and can't see, there's a very real chance that you may get entangled on part of the running gear with the hose that delivers you air. You absolutely can not panic in situations like this. If you can't keep yourself from bolting to the surface in the above situation, you have no business being under a boat.

Ted
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:06 PM   #16
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Ah yes, Tom and his tai chi breathing. Actually, I was never a big fan of the whole deep, dark, canít see feeling. It caused me to over breathe for years until I overcame it. But, you ultimately respond to the way you practice. If you spend enough time, in a disciplined, repeatable fashion, one day you wake up and it becomes second nature. Your internal calibration will simply take longer than average, but ultimately you have the very same potential if you are willing , take it slow and persist. But you can absolutely do everything the next person can.

I was certified when I was 14 or 15, but did not get serious about it until the early 90ís. We were doing more and more deep wrecks and I had to start training for those close obstructed environments. We used to train at a local sunken steel structure and would intentionally crawl into some spots we could barely fit through and practice air sharing while doing so. I remember getting something small keyholed and stuck, a bad dark feeling indeed. Worst thing you can do is to blindly wriggle and make things worse. It took much practice, but eventually instead of reacting, I would slow my breathing, stop moving and think. Usually that allowed you to think enough to find the simple movement that would easily release yourself. The lesson here is that ďsimpleĒ was a learned response. I got very comfortable in some very hostile environments and was a very cool customer when it counted. We simply did not go on challenging dives until it was second nature. The big deep dives were a walk in the park. If you wanted to fear something, it was the 25 foot training dives where the limits were pushed and practiced in a controlled way. Those were the scary dives.

It wasnít a natural outcome, but a disciplined learned outcome. You can do it too, but the worst thing you could do is to simply jump in and assume you can will it into existence. Take it slow and methodical. It comes quicker when you donít force it. Try to be patient and measure how far out on the limb you can go, then stretch, rinse, repeat.

Iíve had my share of guys come close to injure or even kill me over the years. The common denominator was a superior attitude coupled with some not quite so obvious but fundamental flaws that result in triggers to an incident. If you are humble enough to be honest and real about where you are in your capabilities at any point, Iíd say go for it. If your attitude results in the potential to embarrass and overcompensate that would be my own exit point until dealt with. I believe it was Clint Eastwood who said it. A mans got to know his limitations.
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:58 PM   #17
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Ben;
As a claustrophobe who needs valium to get on a plane for more than an hour I'd suggest you forget about diving until you meet with a psychologist and develop a plan to control it. I wish you luck. I've been working on this since I was about sixteen and have never managed to completely get over it.

Flying to Cuba (4hr. flight) next month for two weeks and I'll be picking up two Diazepam (calms me for about 4hrs) for the flights. On longer flights like to the UK have to take the much stronger Tramedol (knocks me on my ass for 8hrs).
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Old 01-02-2019, 11:29 AM   #18
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scuba diving/snorkeling

I have been a certified scuba diver for 35 years. Suffered many of the symptoms described here but found that an attitude of forced calm and clear thinking was the way to get through. Loved the experience and then as years passed and the whole process of diving became so difficult - (travel to a dive shop, rent gear, haul it out to their boat, listen to their safety spiels, go to their spots, stay in their groups, haul it back to the shop - and then later the dive shops started pushing double tank dives, an all day more expensive process leaving one totally exhausted) I discovered and decided that snorkelling was the way to go. Less expensive, less trouble, doable off my own boat, more convenient, less dangerous, saw the same stuff just 30 or so feet further away. I suggest you do whatever you choose in warm clear water only, otherwise whats the point? Good luck.
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Old 01-02-2019, 11:32 AM   #19
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Thank you all. I'm going to talk to an instructor or two this spring before I attempt to dive. I've learned that most places do a group crash course to get people certified as quickly as possible. I'll need one on one instruction. May cost more but will be worth it.
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Old 01-02-2019, 11:42 AM   #20
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Wow, Ben,full face mask, first scuba, panic attack and you still want to try again I commend you. I think this time though you should look for an instructor who understands the mammalian dive reflex. The early pioneers of free diving Mayol, Pipin, Pellizari all taped into it. On the scuba side, Hal Watts and Tom Mount both recognized it and incorporated it into their training. Itís a well researched phenomenon that for some reason has been avoided by most certification agencies much like fitness to dive, ASDís, PFOís and other common preconditions which are regularly used to exclude volunteers from scuba in both the commercial and military branches.
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