This I Believe

Angie - Vero Beach, Florida
Entered on September 15, 2006

I believe in the healing power of water

Ocean water gives me clarity. For me there is nothing like the velvet feel of the salt water against my skin. I feel safe when enveloped in its coolness and depth. The water provides me a source of stability and peace.

I came to discover the ocean’s healing power as a college student on Oahu’s northeastern shore. Even though I loved the school and the island, I found myself caught in a cycle of anxiety and paralyzing phobia. Grieving from a tumultuous break-up and feeling social pressures to be thin and accepted, my mental state spiraled downward. It was worsened by an overwhelming fear of going insane. My mother suffers from schizoaffective disorder and the worry of being afflicted with the same illness constantly plagued me. The delusions and irrational thinking my mother experiences have affected all of her relationships. Though loving and inherently good, my mom’s disease has corroded the very roots of a peaceful family and home. The fear of that repeat was deafening.

During the years of my own emotional trauma, I would wake to a racing heart and thoughts rattling in my brain. After climbing out of bed, I ran to where my backyard ended and the ocean began. I waded in the water until I was deep enough to sink into its cool bosom. I would then swim out as far and as fast as I could until my body’s energy was exhausted and I had no alternative but to turn back towards shore. Back on the sand, I would stretch my hands toward the colorful skies and take pregnant breaths of air while the salt water streamed down my legs.

Somehow the ocean water in the early mornings helped curb my crippling anxiety. The water seemed to flush away the worry and free my mind so I had enough clarity to live the day. It became my source of peace. After a two-year struggle with debilitating fears, I found stability. I was empowered with the idea that I could get the medication and psychological help that my mother had rejected all too soon. I had the freedom to ease the devastating effects of mental illness on my own children and relationships.

Five years later, I continue to be healed by the ocean as I now live on the Florida coast. Anxiety dissolves when I hear the sound of rolling surf and dive under a breaking wave.