Dealing with Mental Changes

I had my first panic attack this year. Surfing on the Outer Banks, I fell off of my board and couldn't get back on. I had waves pounding me, I couldn’t see which way to swim, I felt like I was out of control, I also have a massive fear of deep water and sharks. I lost my mind. I started screaming and crying, I couldn’t control my emotions. I felt helpless in an ocean, literally. I made it into shore where Snowy came quickly to my side, there I was, feeling ashamed.

 Enjoying the flat water of the inlet. 

Enjoying the flat water of the inlet. 

 And I swam, out of a dam. 

And I swam, out of a dam. 

Back up to three months prior when I was training for the Little White Race in Washington. I was terrified running every drop on the river, I never wanted to surf any of the holes that all looked terminal in my mind. I wasn't having “bad” lines but I was just holding on. My good friend Brad McMillan had been keeping the training light hearted and he just sat in the eddy while I bawled my eyes out because I wasn’t having fun and I was really scared. 20 minutes later, I found myself at the top of Spirit Falls, a beautiful 30 foot waterfall landing in a magical cauldron of bubbles. Of course I wouldn’t walk it, even though I was still shaken from the rapids prior. Coming into the drop, I knew I could have a good line, my past does not dictate my future. 

 Aiming for Brad, he always saves me in the most awkward spots. 

Aiming for Brad, he always saves me in the most awkward spots. 

I had the line of my dreams and all of my worries left like dust in a windstorm. I raced the Little White Race with less than 10 runs under my belt, a run that has 30+ rapids with a lot of spots you don't want to go. Why? Was it fun? I love a good challenge. Being able to get out of my head on race day is what makes it fun. It reminds me I am in control of my head, deep breaths and confidence get you far. 

Fast forward to November 5, 2016, I had the race of my life at the Green Race. My time showed it, I tied John Grace and Andrew Holcombe, both men who I have paddled and trained with for over 10 years, and beat my PR by 3 seconds. Even though I had hit my head very hard at Gorilla only days before, I was confident at the start line. I had only positive thoughts flowing through my mind. 

Photo by: Clark Merle                                                  Photo by: Clay Wright

The strength of positivity is more powerful than anyone could ever imagine. 

 Always happy at the takeout after a day on the Green. Photo by: BA Roberts

Always happy at the takeout after a day on the Green. Photo by: BA Roberts