When I came to ASPIRE, I was dealing with severe anxiety and depression. I am sure that they both contribute to one another. Since then, the ASPIRE program has offered many tools to help cope with my afflictions. These tools are valuable and diverse. Sometimes in life, relief can come from the most unlikely sources. For me, diving is one such release.
Diving gave me something to look forward to. While keeping my mind occupied with the goal of certification, my symptoms were greatly reduced. One important aspect of diving is to concentrate on breathing. Verification, through many studies, has shown breathing to produce a calming effect. This is the case while submerged. Breathing was not a tool I would have used before. I did not expect this benefit to present itself, but once again, relief came from an unlikely source.
Weightlessness has been described by many veterans as a benefit from diving that cannot be experienced in other sports. This gives a feeling of freedom, especially to those veterans that might have mobility concerns. I’ve heard it compared to “giving someone’s legs back.” In my own experience, gliding through the water takes my mind to a more tranquil state. I have not witnessed this in other sports.
I am an electronics engineer. I would like to use my training in the marine industry. One way I can do this is by diving below a ship to adjust and test various sensors such as sonar, microphones, and cameras. Receiving my open water certification allows me to do that. Diving has increased my marketability upon leaving the ASPIRE program and therefore increased my chances to continue leading a happy and prosperous life.
To sum it all up, diving has affected my ability to manage my anxiety and depression in a way that seemed impossible before. Diving has given me ability to control my breathing, a weightless feeling of freedom, and increased my overall skillset. I am more confident and motivated as a result. Diving has helped in my journey to reclaim the person I once was.
As a dive master and a Marine Corps veteran I have experienced the benefits of diving myself and hope to continue passing this amazing opportunity to future veterans. Thank you for all of your support!