I was never one of those kids that enjoyed playing in the sea, or going to water parks with the family, and I hated the yearly visits to the local swim center with school. In fact, I was terrified and planned in detail my excuse not to go. Even as a grown up, I never dipped my head under the surface. I panicked just by the thought of opening my eyes under water and hell no would I jump into deep water from a boat. Just the thought of not knowing what was down there gave me the creeps. It was not until recently I found out I was probably suffering from what’s called Thalassophobia - an intense persistent fear of the sea (only self diagnosed though)
I could have easily continued in that state my entire life, but there was one thing disturbing my save space in fear. And that was my deep fascination for all of the beautiful creatures living down there - like sea turtles, dolphins and mantas. This was a nervous excitement that had to be explored further.
However, my first encounter with dolphins in 2006 did not end up as planned. Me and my best friend My were canooting in the water outside Australia with a serious hangover and accidently fell in the water whilst bending down to throw up. In pure panic I struggled to get up in the boat, and that’s when the dolphins decided to join us. It was not the smooth, pleasant meeting I hoped for and it did certainly not cure my Thalassophobia.
Years passed and I kept myself dry! It was not until last year, on my four months trip to SouthEast Asia I got the opportunity to face with my fears again. It was the sea turtles that was occupying my mind and the knowledge they were under threat of extinction, but also the recent news of the near future mass coral bleaching on the places we were visiting.
Me and my husband Henrik, who recently had discovered the passion for diving, were out with a diving crew in Flores, Indonesia. I was just tagging along, perhaps jumping in to snorkel if I had the courage. I had tipped a local 15-year old boy with a year’s salary to swim with me in case. But just as all the divers were jumping in to a famous dive spot for sea turtles and i was getting ready to go in, they announced that the boy was too sick to follow me. Stressed out by this sudden news, i leaned back and were about to take off my snorkeling gears. But as the boat lurched i fell in, the boat were off and I found myself completely alone in the deep ocean.
I have never swam so fast in my entire life to get to more shallow waters. And as I did, I forced myself to look down with my cyclops to keep out of danger. What hit me was this massive sea bed floor with thousands of colorful corals, beautiful shoals of tropical fish, and a relaxed hawksbill turtle cruising just a few meters away. Instantly, I found myself with this immense feeling of calmness.
Finally I could relate to what divers had been telling me, and I just knew that I had to get even deeper down to have the complete experience. There is just so much amazing life in the ocean reefs that it cannot be ignored. And the most rewarding part afterwards was to actually be alive. All these years I have lived in fear of not knowing what was going on down there and now when I do, I just want to have more of it. I’m not saying I’m fully convinced yet. My first real dive in the Gili Islands was 40 percent amusing and 60 percent terrifying. There is still more mindfulness to be done, and more dates with the Ocean until we are passionately in love.