The rough with the smooth.

hi all, 

as you probably have guessed, diving gives me a clear head and stops me having the issues with the mental health that stop me doing so much. 

I didn’t want to taint the posts of the great experiances that came on that trip, or make light of the oportunity and support that DeptherapyDive crew and PADI give to me.

Frankly i enjoy writing my blog when its about the good things it is doing for me and helping me live a (somewhat) normal life. 

The truth is, the trip was a mixed bag for me due to one person (who i wont name). the person was inconsiderate and caused me to have an anxiety attack, lack of sleep and nightmares and night terrors (something i have not had since starting diving). 

i have felt myself going through the mill with my brain, fatigue, memory issues and feeling down. Every day i put on my “brave face” and get on with the day, id hit the water and it would go away. 

The “person” had had a go at me because i wanted to go to the hotel and he wanted another beer, even though i had sat there waiting whilst he had 4. he didnt react well and i felt like he was going to strike out.

Since the accident i have a fear of being attacked or in confrontation. it is usually unrealistic, like walking down the street and ill just keep thinking someone is going to sneak up and beat me up. so the confrontation like that in the car sent my head west and my heart pumping from my chest.

The week continued and the problem was there was a number of occurances in, and  out of the water, where the “person” did things that made me nervous and on edge. This was magnified when he drank, as he got aggressive and 

just as an example that its confrontations that cause it, we had a situation with one of the divers in our group lost their weights, there was no thoughts i just reacted, and (to blow my own trumpet) i handled it well! there was no anxity, no worry we just sorted it.

As the week progressed, his conduct got worse and his sorries meant less, his excuses lost merit. By the time it came to the last evening i had had enough of both and had started distancing myself (whilst still being civil).

you cant dive for 24 hours before flying so we had planned to chill out on the boat, pack cases and go for a meal in the evening. i was looking forward to it, having a beer and a meal with new divecrew friends and the deptherepy patrons, it was something that isnt the norm for me anymore because i tend to not like the mass of conversation.

once again my game face was put on, we left the boat and within about 3 mins the “person” had made my dive buddy not want to go anymore, and he didnt, my buddy insisted i still had to go…so i did.

i went into the resteraunt with everyone, the person went outside when i went to use my cig, started giving me the same questions as my buddy. i told him 3 times that i didnt want to talk about it. he said “are you going to throw a strop like steve did”, thats the point where i walked off.

i went back to the boat after the meal whilst the “person” went out on the lash. i got into bed and found myself tossing and turning thinking , the “person” is going to come back pissed, come in my room whilst im asleep and deck me (beat me up). it was horrible. i lay there having an anxiety attack (probably the 3rd one since the accident).

eventually i calmed down enough that i got the key out of the door and locked my self and steve in our room, im glad i did too. at about 4/5 am (i had fell asleep and had a nightmare about the exact same thing so was sat on my phone), the door handle started going like someone was trying to get in, i checked to my left and steve was asleep so it wasnt him and no one else would have any reason to come to our door at that time. 

needless to say, if it wasnt for the support and the ability to open with the deptherepy master instructors martin and richard, along with chris and steve and the other people i spoke with, that would have been a horrible week and would have probably put my mental health back at least 12 months.

im now back home, im not feeling great and i wanted to use my blog for the same reason that i did before i was introduced to diving. to vent and get it off my chest. 

the other people on that boat kept my head above water (no pun intended) and stopped me from going into my shell and locking myself away, so thank you to everyone.

hopefully the next post will be a better one.

Jon

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Swept Away.

The day started not as good as it usually does, i had a few nightmares last night and they were rather realistic (im not going to write about the content). The lack of sleep meant i had a lay in, i got up at 0640 instead of 0600. 

i woke to the engines of the boat roaring to life, like Scuba steves snoring in the night (well at least when he is on his back), there was some swell in the sea but no where near of the rocking of the previous trip. 

we had a brief on the Giannis D wreck, went on the rib ( small boat which hurt mine and scuba steves back) and went and got wet, Resident dive master Chris Middleton lead the dive, with two of our master instructors from deptherepy watching his every move (as chris is soon to start his Assistant Instructor – Instructor Development Course).

The dive was another one of wonder, we didnt penatrate as it was a 120 bar (how much air you have) turn around point and a long swim back to the channel where the rib (small boat) would pick us up. We got to 120 bar and all started to swim towards the channel.

now, there was 2 things i learned very quickly on that swim,

  1. you swim when the surge pushes you and dont fight it when it pulls you (i was goosed after 10 mins) 
  2. underwater swimming is just like hill walking, when you see what you think is the peak (or in this case the channel corner). when you reach it there is another peak behind it.

    It worked out about 15-20 minute swim, once we got there we sent SMB’s up (surface marker buoys – i think it stands for). The rib came and got us and we all manages to get in before the current pushed us on the reef. 

    the boat took us to our dive boat (big boat) and whrn everyone was back aboard we set off towards the harbour, a couple of hours napping and a few painkillers later, we reached what was to be the last dive of the week (awwww). 

    The wreck was a T-42 mine sweeping military vessell, it had been sunk after nemerous missile shots from Israel aircraft. our surface interval was done so it was time to dive. Chris, Scuba steve and myself were the first off of the dive boat, we soon found out (in about 0.3 seconds) that the current was like nothing i had ever delt with before, but, as they say, every day is a school day.

    so….we had jumped off the back of the dive boat and needed to get to the front so that we could use the bow line to the tie off point on the wreck. with only one hand that can grip properly it was an absolute blow out! mine hats off to Chris Middleton, he swam in that current better than i did and he has 2 less legs that me,(little thank you to diana for helping me out when i was pooped). 

    i took a min to compose my self and slow my breathing rate down and then went down towards the wreck. its not a massive wreck but the first impresson it gives is with the massive explosion hole in the side of it. we dived for around 30 mins and then headed up the line, knowing (and very glad to know) the current would take us to the back of the boat. 

    we got to the safety stop at 5 meters, and i can honestly say, i have never missed good grip in my left hand more. i was like a flag in a hurricane on the line (probably being a bit dramatic, but it sells the picture more). i ended on hooking on the line with my armpit for added support. 

    we eventually got back to the dive boat and i got to the bottom of the ladder, because i cant bare weight i have to take my kit off in the water. i gave up on that idea when everytime i took my hand off the ladder i fell off and had to battle to get back on. it ended up, two of the eyption guys leaning down, one grabbing my tank and pulling the weight of that, and the other grabbing and pulling me up (lets just say, i definatly didnt look elegant!).

    then it was off back to port, the whole team went for a meal that evening in a place called Bulls (which i highly recommend). Then that was it, the trip was done. 

    your all probably sick of hearing me say it, but thank you to everyone involved with this trip, both organisers and participents. i have had some bad nightmares recently and the water seems to be the one place i can go where i am truely free of anxiety (unless i see a shark) . 

    And thank you to you for reading my blog. its a good way of me getting accross some of the excitement, anguish (if thats the right word) and what ever other emotions im feeling (apart from crying at chick flicks, i dont do that …. honest).

    hope you all have a great week, and until something else happens in my otherwise un-eventful life. have fun and be happy

    jon

    Thats a morey

    so…..its the penultimate day, its definatly going too quick. 

    me and scuba steve were shocked to leatn we overslept and had an extra hour in bed. which is both amazing and evil, the beds are like concrete on this boat so we both woke up with back pain…

    weather wasnt in our favour, that doesnt mean like the uk its raining cats and dogs, but it means that we couldnt venture out to the dive site we had hoped. 

    (above photo is chris middleton)

    for the first dive we had our resident Deptherapy Dive Master Chris Middleton take us on a guided tour of the reef. it was a cracker, we saw everything we could have hoped to, Chris even got to show off some his “situation management” skills when one of the divers dropped weights and dramatically started ascending. to be blunt it shown me what i already know, he is a great dive master who is as good if not better than most divemasters i have dived with. 

    our second dive was much of the same..(amazing that is!)

    The third dive we didnt visit the wreck and we just went on the reef. i had a nemo square up to me (wanting a fight), i seen my first sea slug (i cant remember the latin name).

     

    but the fourth dive, the night dive was by far the most impressive, we chose to stay closg1e to the boat and see some luminescence. we dropped in, decended and dove to the front of the boat, we found a sandy plateau where we intended to drop to the floor and turn off the torches. we dropped down and reached the bottom.

    as we were doing our checks that we were all good and settled ready to turn the torches off, i checked the area (by shining my torch), within my beam i spotted 4 lion fish (a spiny poisonous fish that use your flashlights to hunt), but they didnt seem interested in where our beams are going, they were interested in us, and to be honest i didnt fancy a lion fish spine up my bum so i called a no on lights going out.

    we carried on round the reef, with every time we looked round the four lion fish following us. 

    sooo….why the title i hear you asking…..

    we were just heading back to the boat, when the TDM (trainee dive master) was leading the dive and as i shone my torch to his left i seen a free swimming giant morey heading straight for him. I grabbed the TDM’s leg and pulled him back and the morey went straight passed his face, i think its fair to say that he may have needed a change of underpants. we all just floated with neutral boyancy watching the beast of the sea swim past, i turned to my side and sized it up and it must have been approx 8ft at least (based on my being 6 foot in perfect posture).

    as i lay in bed writing this i cant help thinking to myself, what else brings me so much joy, and to be honest there is not very much apart from family and friends. now im thinking (as i lie on the concrete mattress) what else gives me the escape from pain like diving, and there is nothing, when im in the water nothing hurts (as long as i dont use my left arm {which is bad technique}), the only thing that comes close is medication and i dont like having to take something strong enough to stun a bull just to be pain free. 

    since before the accident i have had some serious nighmares and recollections that i wish i could forget, and between them and the accident i have some pretty comfounded thoughts. diving is the only thing that takes them away, its been proven to help (sheffield uni did a study.

    try diving guys, you too could have health and wellbeing within yourself by trying diving at your local PADI centre.

    tommorows my last day and i dont want it to end, but for now i will bid you farewell. 

    Jon

    if the boat is rocking, dont come knocking

    hi all, this is day two of our livaboard diving adventure. i woke up at 5am, we were still sailing up to a wreck that has only been dived by 500 or so people. i had a job to do today, as im always one of the first up it was my job to wake people up at half 6. The sea was rather rough….so much so you could walk around the boat and your feet would leave the deck as we hit a wave, that meant there was no point waking people up, (i didnt think to get a video to show you).

    we got over the wreck and i could feel the excitement building up, like a kid on christmas eve, im 28 dives in and i still get the feeling like it was my second dive (because i crapped my self on my first one {not litrally}). 

    the boat moored, the swell calmed, that can only mean one thing! Dive time! kit setup, checks done, nitrox tested (% of oxygen in my cylinder). 

    Liam, Chris, Martin, Richard, scuba steve and i got in the water, we dropped down to the wreck and did the observation wreck dive as liam hadnt done this and needed to do it to meet the PADI standards. liams air was running low so he headed up to the surface with Chris and Richard. This meant that Martin, steve and i could do some swim throughs. 
    It really is amazing that you can swim through a part of history and (imagination dependant) can imagine what the wreck looked like 60 years ago. 

    we did another dive in the afternoon and again martin took me and steve for a ‘play’ in the wreck! this time it was i bit more daunting. we penetrated the wreck swimming through seeing vehicle (most of it was gone, just the steering wheel was left. as we moves through the crevices of the boat Martin took us over a pile of coal.

    now that probably sounds pretty boring on first thought, now imagine there in a roof above said pile, and there was probably 70cm between the two. for those who are reading this who have never scubadived, if you are in the propper position (flat as a pancake), you will be your body mass plus the cylinder diameter (which is around 30cm). so together, my diameter was around 50cm. That makes that space between the roof and coal as tight as a fish’s arse, add into that there are plenty of potential nasties that can get you above and below and you have a pretty nerve wrecking (see what i did there) first swim through a confined space. 

    all in all an absolutly brilliant day of diving, a clear head and a very happy beever.

    until tommorow guys and girls! 
    jon

    Raisen mate? nahhh its just a current

    The day started with my usual 6am get up and coffee. Boat is still moored above S.S. thistlegorm…what else was there to do but smash a before breakfast dive on the thistlegorm!

    For the first day this trip i had very little pain (just my hand), so the diving was just utterly relaxing. Scuba Steve and i went on some adventures and re-absorbed the whole bow (front) of the wreck. we went and seen the captains cabin again, his bloody bath tub was well made… even after a bombing and sinking it was still full of water! 

    One dive down it was time to have breakfast, the decision was made by everyone on the boat that one more dive on the thistlegorm was on the cards… up went my excitement again! 

    We dove the stern (back) of the ship this time, there are some big old guns back there! we had a guided tour from Martin and Sue (owners of divecrew diving shop and school). yet another relaxing dive when i got the excitement out of my system and i got my breathing sorted.

    We then went on a rather rough seas for an hour and half on our next voyage to the next wreck. The boat was listing and bouncing (more than the last blog) you could hear things down below crashing over…chairs on the deck (with people on them) were on 2 legs. it was entertaining to watch. 

    we arrived moored up in a nice sheltered area, we had exceeded our recommended surface interval (time you have to spend on the boat after a dive). The Steve Rattle saying “if your computer says you can dive, go diving” could not be truer, so we did. a reef dive, this is where the blog title comes from.

    We dropped in to no current, heading along the current seeing alot of nemo’s (clown fish), eels and a spectacular number of other red sea aquatic life! we started to make our way up the reef, and all of a sudden we were all working harder, we wernt moving at all. after about three mins our divemaster Chris Middleton turn the dive, from that point with the current behind us we just drifted back towards the boat, looking at all the aquatic life on the way. 

    the last dive of the day was the night dive, this was lead by the master instructor from divecrew, martin lead us to the wreck, where there was an abundance of giant morea and aquatic life. ill be honest we thought he had got us lost on the way back (which he would have never lived down), but he hit the boat line bang on! he just took a bloody wide berth to it. 

    on to tommorow! speak you all then!

    jon

    (photo credits to Martin Weddell)

    Mind blown on the Thistlegorm

    (in the style of oasis)

    Today is gunna be the day that their gunna throw it back to you,

     by now you shoulda researched what the thistlegorm went through,

    i dont believe that anybody, feels the way i did, until they see it!

    right, thats enough of that singing malarky. the day started at 0630 with us still sailing to the biggest and most significant wreck of the trip. The thistlegorm was a defencivly armed merchant navy ship that was sank by a “pop shot” bomb from a german aircraft (which was actually tasked to get another ship) 

    the ship as it lays looks like this 
    the first dive was an observation dive and a couple of swim throughs. lots of different specimins of fish but the astounding thing was the sheer size of the ship, its a definate see to believe!!!

    the second dive was the one in which many things crossed my mind, the first penetration of the wreck, i have never really had any anxiety whilst diving and the thistlegorm was definatly a ship of many firsts.

    As the thistlegorm was helping the war effort, soldiers died on the ship making it a war grave, it was carrying alot of military cargo including trucks, hundreds of weapons, motorcycles and munitions. 

    we went down to the wreck and penetrated nemerous points, seen all the ammo and vehicles, as you pass over the stuff you think to yourself…how pissing lucky am i, this is cool as feck, you get excitement and a rush. the second time you pass over the vehicles my thought pattern changed, thinking of the people who loaded the boat, people who were on the boat and were expected a ‘nothing day’. 

    all in all this wreck is a look into the history of the boat that is incredible. the diving is incredible and if you take time to appreciate exactly what you are looking at you will be drawn into another exciting world in which only a few have seen!

    until tommorow, 

    jon

    (all photo credit goes to Martin Weddell)

    Feeding the fishes

    After a day of traveling from gatwick to hurgarda and we arrived at our boat for the week. its masssive!!!! 

    we met our hosts steve and claire rattle (from roots, where i started my diving journey). we had a good chat and met some of Martin and sue’s dive crew team with who we would be diving with. 

    Scuba steve and i thought it would be a good idea to get a good nights sleep and bid everyone farewell. what we woke up to can only be described as phonominal!the boat looks even better in day light. we have 3 stories, we have great views from all sides of the boat.

    now to the important and most impresive bit of the first day, the diving!!!!

    The first dive was both a check dive (checking weighting and skills) and the first dive of my deep course. we dived the SHA’ABDUL UMM GAMMA which was a old gunship that was sunk by the Israeli’s. 

    The second dive was our first ‘propper’ wreck, by propper i mean big ol’ thing!

    The boat was called the SHA’AB ABU NUHAS P+O CARNATIC, this boat was huge.. (i say that and have been told their is alot bigger to come!).

    we got out kit in the rib (posh rubber dingy) and set out for a place above the wreck. As we were travelling in the rib the captain of the rib shouted some thing, i couldnt quite make out what it was, i think its fair that i didnt have to wait long for clarification when the rest of the boat started shouting to each other …”DOLPHINS!!!WHERE…where, where are they”

    lets just say it had its perks being bounced around at the front of the rib. i had the best view of a school of dolphins, a view that would have made Sir David Attenborough jelious. 

    we dove the wreck and it was amazing. we swam through some rather large opening and through what felt like a wall of glass fish. The dive was a great experiance but i would be lying if i didnt say the dolphins in their natural environment didnt make me like a kid in a candy shop!

    last dive of the day was on the reef where we had seen the dolphins earlier, this was a leisure dive and was, for me the best dive of the day. not because there was anything amazing to see, not because it was thw deepest but just because it was relaxed and tranquill. 

    the reason scubadiving has done so much for me is that my brain doesnt stop, it just works and works until it burns its self out (if im honest, probably more on negative thoughts about myself than anything else). This dive was the one that set that at rest. there was nothing, no anxiety, no worries, just me, the sea and the beautiful world below sea level.

    i come out of these dives like a duracel bunny, energised and re-invigorated. sometimes i have to have a little word with myself to “man up” as it shows a realisation of what people at Deptherapy and PADI and everyone else does for me/us. 

    scubadiving is a life changer for me and i think it would be for anyone who tries it.. go to your local PADI dive centre and get your head wet! make MY PADI adventure Your PADI adventure.

    anyway guys, its time for a beer and a bit of reflection on how great today has been and how much better i feel after one day! 

    have a good evening and ill send another update of my adventures tommorow!

    Jon 

    when deptherapy met PADI 

    hi all , another diving milestone today for me and 5 lads, we all travelled down to PADI from all over the country, this was to have a meet and greet and to say thank you to all the staff for the effort that they put into us and the charity.

    As usual when i travel a long distance, i like to leave early so i dont have to deal with the anxiety and stress of alot of traffic, so we left my house at 4am, and arrived at PADI HQ around 11am (when we should have only been there for 2pm)

    Emma was happy to great us and show us round the office. we met all the great people who put so much into helping people change their lives with diving. 

    We let Emma get on with her work and went to have some dinner. 

    it reached about half one, liam and i headed back up to PADI HQ, as usual DR ‘grumpy bubbles’ Cullen was stood in his authoritive stance on the top step of the enterance. All of the 5 deptherepy lads where there and we went in, all armed with deptherepy tshirts, and the PADI glasses we got in Egypt.

    Emma can and met us all and we met the staff again, this time in more detail, we met a woman called vicky who was a rebreather specialist (cool peice of kit, google it). we met other all the other members of staff like jonas (who had a nice looking shirt on, just my size, but i couldnt seduce him out of it ) and Simon who is just a rock star with the charity , including the nice woman who has the pleasure of censoring my blog if they use it (i dont envy her). 

    Emma then took us for a brief around PADI’s ambition and goals including thos of ‘PROJECT AWARE’ (conservation of our oceans), this was a great brief and really made me buy into the PADI goals (not like i didnt already).

    Then it was our turn, all of the staff we met today came up and listened to richard explain what the charity does, how PADI helps with this. Richard then got each of us to stand up (turn around for those in wheelchairs) and tell our own view how much scubadiving has done for us personally. 

    Ben went first, pete went sencond (below) 

    chris went third,

    and then it was my turn…..

    now anyone who knows me, knows i could talk to anyone at any level. There is one topic that really gets to me when i speak about it and thats the accident. when you look at the pictures of the guys you see physical injuries, you dont see the mental ones. 

    The diffuculty with me is that i have no obvious signs of a physical injury, but the mental side of my injuries are by far my worst enemy. i stood up and explained the mental battles, the guilt over emmas injuries and the byproducts of all that and i got a bit emotional. i was shaking like a shitting dog after it (put that in their to keep the lovely woman busy).

    at the end of the day when someone asks me, whats scubadiving like, the only thing i can say is life changing! not in the sence that i have changed who i was, but more that diving with PADI and deotherepy has helped me descover and live more life as the person i am now.

    it simply couldnt be done without the people from PADI and Deptherapy, so to all those people who help out, even in the smallest way, thank you for digging me out of that dark place time and time again!

    ohhhh and we got some presents too!… thank you!

    i know this was a long one guys but i hope you see that what these people do is amazing and changes lives. 

    laters and thanks for reading! 

    Jon 

    a year ago today

    howdy doodie everyone (anyone), wordpress has just notified me that it has been a year since i started writing this blog, alots happened over that time!

    i have been on some serious lows, i have had some highs and breaks from the madness. i started the blog so that i could remind myself of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and to be honest i believe it works…i still go back reading my blog posts that are about the good stuff (like the ones after ive been diving)! they pull me out of the dark places and show me that, there are alot of good people who would, and do alot for me. 

    so wether you are reading this in passing and dont know me (well you know every intimate detail now). or you are one of the people who have provided me with the much needed support and morale, thank you!

    by you lot reading my blog posts it has given me the drive to keep it up to date. as i said earlier i really use this blog to bring myself out of daek places.

    reet im done rambling and im nearly at work so thank you everyone for reading, have a good week!

    jon

    Suits you sir

    Hi all! this is a little blog post about the next step in my scuba diving adventure! 

    so the adventure started with Ben Lee (another royal engineer guy who is part of deptherepy) sending me and scuba steve a message saying that he had just visited John at  OTTER Watersports who is working with alot of the guys in deptherepy as alot of the guys with missing limbs need special requirements.
    Ben had recommended John and the team at otter to me and Steve, as they will look after our injury requirements. to be honest i think Ben was probably the 15th person to recommend OTTER Watersports just because of their quality of work, plus the deptherepy charity held them in high regard which was good enough for me!

    i travelled up to Bradford on saturday after a few back and forths with John on messanger, my back, knees and anxiety were all kicking off by the time i got there.

    On first meeting John, i met a genuine caring bloke who obviously knows his stuff! we chatted for a while before we got down to business (how we could get a drysuit that would fit my needs). 

    His knowledge and expertise was apparent immediatly, coming up with ideas that would help me, simple thinks like rock boots so i dont get squeeze on my feet (a problem i have found when trying out different suits). he undersood the issues with my shoulder and knew front entry wasnt for me!

    he measured me up, this was going to be a tailored drysuit! i could feel myself getting excited to use it and it was just numbers on a page at this point. 

    we had a bru and chatted somemore, he shown me how he will make my suit and it all interested me, but, bloody hell these guys know their trade! 

    i am more than happy with my purchase from John and the service he gives in nothing short of immense! i genuinly cannot bloody wait to try it out! i cant wait to go diving again! check out OTTER Watersports if your thinking of a drysuit!

    i love what diving has done to me, im a happier, more confident person! i still have some really bad days, both mental and physical but its days like these that let the sun shine through the clouds! 

    anyway .. ill leave you all to it and i will update you when anything changes!

    have a great week, and i hope yours started as well as mine!

    jon