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Fear

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    I recently started to suffer under Thalassophobia (self-diagnosed fear of deep water) and get really scared as soon, as I think about deep water with corals/fish/plants in it. It all started two months ago when we went to Egypt.
    Since I was little, I´ve had a kind of connection to the sea. I love tropical marine biology and know a lot of fishes in the ocean/sea, mostly ocean tho and because of that, I´m really afraid of different creatures in the water, especially the ocean. I know a lot of the dangerous species and I have been afraid of them since I learned about most of them. I was about 7 to 9 years old (I´m almost 14 now). Two months ago, when we went to Egypt, I thought, that I´d get over that fear, but I was dead wrong.
    We went to Sharm el Naga lagoon and there the coral reef is really close to the beach, like ten meters or less. You could go snorkeling there, so my mom´s friend and I decided, that we´d try it out. I had never been, but it seemed like a cool idea. When we got into the water, the instructor didn´t teach us anything about it. He just went in and expected everyone to follow him. Of course, we did and it was really hard for me. First, my mask wasn´t tight enough and was malfunctioning, so that I didn´t get enough oxygen/I didn´t know, how to breathe; second, when we made it over the rief, I suddenly started to breathe really fast, my head started to spin and I got really sick. I felt this over-taking fear in me. I couldn´t think rationally anymore. The only thing I wanted, was to get out and I was literally scared to death. I finally got back to the shore and everything was okay, but since then, when I think about swimming in a natural body of water, I get scared. I start to breathe fast and sweat, my heart starts pounding really fast and I feel that same fear. When I see pictures of dangerous creatures or anyone mentions them, I also feel the same symptoms. And the fact, that I have the same dream over and over again, where I´m forced to swim over corals in deep water doesn´t help
    My dad just tells me, that I should just decide, not to fear, but it´s not that easy. For me at least.
    I never had that type of fear. Not as seriously anyways.
    Thank you for reading my problems at the expense of your free time!
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    Mammu This must have been such a horrible experience! I know your dad means well in saying to 'not fear' but it takes some work to get through this. Firstly, even though I'm sure you were safe the fear in this case had a real basis (we are programmed to fear anything that can be dangerous - heights, falling etc) as you were in deep water. This was then reinforced by the instructor not giving clear instructions and the issue with your mask. As it was so traumatic, it's natural for you to feel that anxiety when anything reminds you of it.
    There are a few ways to move forward; some people find talking therapy works really well and some people find exposure therapy really useful. Exposure therapy allows you to break down the fear of water in as small steps as you are comfortable with. For example, you might just have your feet in the water and 'sit' with the fear for a few minutes until you feel a little more comfortable and slowly build this up. You could start with a swimming pool rather than the sea if this feels better.

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        Blondie Thank you for those recommendations, I really appreciate it.
        Swimming pools are not scary for me. I am actually pretty tall (182cm), which means, that in most swimming pools I can reach the bottom and even if I can´t I´m still not afraid of it. I love pools with deep water. The deep natural bodies of water are the things, that worries me. And about putting my legs into the water - that´s pretty impossible for me to do. It always has been. Now, at least I know why.
        Again, thank you for that great advice! I will definitely think about it!

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