Vitamin Sea and Me and BPD

“See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me…”

Moana (Disney)

It’s said that the best cure for anything is salt water: tears, sweat or the sea. 

Tears. Well, anyone who knows me knows I cry. A lot. Obviously at sad things, but also at beautiful views, cute positions my cat sleeps in, or happy bits in films. Oh my goodness, the bit in Apollo 13 when they’re not sure they’ve made it back through the atmosphere, and then their voices crackle over the radio. Literally gets me every time. Oh sorry, spoiler alert: they make it. I could write a blog post all about how much I love Tom Hanks. But I digress.

Sweat. I love to work up a sweat by going for a run. I’m no expert, but since 2015 when I did the Couch to 5K programme and became A Runner, I’ve done lots of parkruns, several 10K races and three half marathons. Running helps my mental health (hello, endorphins!), and pushing myself physically helps relieve some mental tension.

But the salt water this post is in praise of is the sea.

Most of 2018 was pretty rubbish after my breakdown (see previous post – I won’t be describing that again, ack), but in July we went to visit friends in Poole on the south coast. I’ve always always always loved the sea. Tom and I braved the cold water of the English Channel and for a few moments, I felt free. Weightless. Even a little bit…happy. It was a teeny spark of who I really was in the midst months of a lot of darkness.

Fast forward eleven months, and this past week, Tom and I have been in Cyprus, on a holiday booked rather last minute and definitely needed. Last year we had planned our honeymoon –  a tour of Italy – and had to cancel it due to my mental health, so this was a bit of a way to treat ourselves and have some time in the sun together. Neither of us had been to Cyprus before, or even really considered it as an option until we went to the travel agent to help us find a suitable holiday with only 5 weeks to plan it.

As it was, we both really loved Cyprus – the people are so friendly, the food is incredible, and our hotel was perfect. Yes, Tom and my in-laws had to practically carry me onto the plane the day we went, as I was convinced I could not do it. Yes, my BPD packed its bags and came with us. Yes, there were bad moments, even in a gorgeous setting in 27°C heat. But overall, we had a great time. We toured historical sites, ate local food, mucked around in the pool, one of us told the other off for trying to fuss ALL the stray cats, and we decided to book a boat trip for our last full day there.

It was an ‘adults only’ (snigger) 6 hour cruise around the coast, with stops for swimming and an open bar all day. We set ourselves up on the top deck, smothered ourselves in factor 50 and settled in. The scenery was gorgeous, and I’ve always loved a good boat trip. I barely gave much thought to the swimming stops. Until we got to Coral Bay (just along the coast from Paphos).

Coral Bay, Cyprus

The boat was set up so we could all get into the sea from the platform at the back, and looking into the (seemingly bottomless) water, I nearly lost my nerve. Tom dived in first. (This was BRAND NEW INFORMATION to me – I did not know he could dive, something I have never been able to do – and he instantly became 10000% more attractive to me.) I stood on the edge, looking in. What if there were lots of fish? (Oh yeah, I am really scared of fish. They are just…UGH.) What if it was too cold? What was beneath us? Then I thought ‘f*ck it’, and jumped in. 

IT WAS COLD, and I hyperventilated for about 2 minutes, before I could even speak to Tom and reassure him that I wasn’t actually panicking. We swam a bit to warm up, and I ended up floating on my back in the turquoise sea, gazing up at a clear blue sky, unable to believe that just seven months before I had been at my lowest ebb on a psychiatric ward. I remembered one of my favourite Matt Haig quote about depression:

‘It may be a dark cloud passing across the sky but – if that is the metaphor – you are the sky.’

Matt Haig

I lay on my back looking up and I said to myself, ‘you are the sky’. Cheesy? Who cares!

I climbed up and jumped off the rock in the middle of this picture!

The next swimming stop was, if anything, even better. My confidence was up, and I merrily jumped in this time. We went to explore a little cave, and then when I saw some of the men from the boat climbing up a nearby platform of rock and jumping into the sea, I thought, ‘why not?’ So I  swam over to the rock, climbed up, got scared again when one of the men said ‘just make sure you jump away from the rock’, then decided I’d faced scarier things than this and ran and jumped.  I jumped right in. (No other woman from our boat did, just saying.) I swam back to Tom feeling invincible, whilst snotting salt water out of my nose.

Tom and I on the boat!

That day, I got my dose of Vitamin Sea. And as always, it was so healing. I didn’t think about anxiety, depression or BPD when I was swimming in that clear water with my amazing husband. (Well, actually, that’s not true, I told him I was going to write a blog post about it and he suggested I make a play on the words ‘medication’ and ‘Mediterranean’. Groan.)

So, yeah, I will never forget how much that day meant to me. Salt water is pretty great.

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