How do you coup with fear?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 17, 2007 2:41 PM GMT
    Today I received some bad news. But in order for a stranger (you) to understand I need to give background.

    I have been traveling through Central America for just over a year now. I have kind of settled in Panama because of friends. Wile I was in Panama I wanted to try something new so I tried river kayaking. I had a friend (let’s call him Chris) who was a great kayaker and he agreed to teach me. He taught me the basics to kayaking. After a month we started to do some small trips down some rivers. The rivers were about a class 3, so it was not that difficult. My skill level slowly progressed over a few months thanks to Chris. We became friends. Not good friends, but more like very good acquaintances (and not a love interest at all). We might have been better friends if I spoke sufficient Spanish.

    Yesterday a group of Rafters and Kayakers were doing a popular river. They were just about done with the hard rapids when Chris flipped over in a tough section. They think he hit his head and was stunned, because after he did a wet exit (bailing out of the kayak when you are upside-down in the water), he did not try to swim or grab the rope. He floated into another rapid, right into a hydraulic and did not come back out. The group searched for a while before giving up. A search party found his body this morning around 9, about ten minutes from the rapid where he went under.

    His passing has been a severe shock to me and I am stunned to say the least. I have to admit I am not in tears because we were not that close, but I am still shocked. I think it mostly has to do with the idea of death being so permanent.

    However this tread is not about a death of a friend. You will probably think I am selfish for saying this, but his death has made me slightly fearful of kayaking now. I know that there are deaths from kayaking and that it is a dangerous sport, but it never hit until I saw an acquaintances die because of it. I want to continue to Kayak, but it is scary now. I need a way to cope with my fear.

    So how do you cope with fear?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 17, 2007 2:57 PM GMT

    Knowledge conquers fear. Talk to experts on kayaking and learn about what happened to this fellow and what he might have done to prevent the injury. Knowing what to do will calm your fear. If you are told that there is nothing that he could have done, it is just part of the inherent danger in the sport, then decide if you want to tempt fate and go down such rapids.

    In the meantime...

    Stay out of the rough water. Go back in the class 3 or below rivers until you get your nerve back ...and perhaps more importantly ... until you have truly mastered the skills.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13999

    Nov 17, 2007 3:04 PM GMT
    I'm sorry to hear about your friend. Was he wearing a helmet?

    As far as coping with your fear, there's a fine line between the facing your fear and being foolhardy and exposing yourself to danger.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16461

    Nov 17, 2007 3:54 PM GMT
    I agree with Caslon, but wanted to add a couple of points.

    I'd encourage you to work through the "shock process"
    you now feel based on being a witness to the accident.
    I'd talk to others and come to a level of acceptance of what happened. Maybe you have. I personally believe its important.

    Get back and start Kayaking again and do start at a lower level, work back up, gain the knowledge and expertise to cope with something of that magnitude should it ever threaten again. Confidence is very important to success. Good luck to you.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 17, 2007 4:43 PM GMT

    I am very touched by your story. First you have to morn you friend’s passing. You must also disassociate the experience of kayaking with his death. When you have finished morning you will be able to put the trip in perspective. I assume your friend died doing what he loved. It may not make it easier and some people may call his death useless for that very reason. He did not have to risk his life kayaking but he did.

    The point is we can wait for death or live our lives. Mastering fear is an essentially part of avoiding depression. An extremely depressed person is fearful of leaving home. That being said we also must make calculated risks to stay alive. It is a fine balance to strike and knowing your limitations is a key survival ingredient.

    It sounds like your friend’s death was a wake-up call to the dangers of kayaking. I have just taken up the sport and have to admit that no other sport scares me as much as kayaking. I don’t ever intend to go beyond class III on a river. I have been learning at the Whitewater kayak center in Charlotte where one can safely learn to do Class IV’s but even if I reach that level, I plan to stick to the easier rivers. I had a near death experience skiing once and my legs wobbled the rest of the day on the easiest of slopes. There is nothing wrong with moving down a notch or two and just enjoying the sport in a relaxing way.

    One of the instructors at the Whitewater center admitted to me that he has quit running creaks. He is a phenomenal kayaker and so I found his comment surprising. He said he lost his head on the Green River Narrows near Asheville and did a wet exist. He swam through some Class V rapids. By the time he recovered he and his boat were too banged up to continue the run.

    Even if you give up creaking as he has you can still surf and stick to river runs you know well. Kayaking to me is less about the thrill and more about the beauty of where the river takes you. Caslon and the others are right about knowing what you are getting yourself into. Always read the river levels before venturing out. If you go back to the high-class runs find someone who has experience with the river/creak and scout often.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 17, 2007 4:46 PM GMT
    When Death wants you he'll come for you.

    It's not your time yet.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 17, 2007 7:02 PM GMT
    Is it a MUST to overcome this fear? I mean if your fear cause dysfunction in life, then it's bad. But it's not. not all fears are bad. Stay away from Kayaking for a while, you don't make a living out of it, right?
    You'll be ready one day. For now, your mind just cannot understand why you would risk your life over a hobby.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 17, 2007 7:04 PM GMT
    In order to overcome your fears you need to face them. My friends father died from a boating accident, he has not been boating since. Of course I am not in favor of riding horses however, the saying goes "if you fall off the horse, get back on"
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    Nov 17, 2007 11:48 PM GMT
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I appreciate the help.
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    Nov 18, 2007 6:11 AM GMT
    Hey man: I kayak and two summers ago I got flipped and couldn’t get upright in a rapid for over a minute, face dragged on some rocks, but nothing major. I did the wet exit and although I was cool at the time and rode out the river, once I got home and reflected on the experience, I became terrified. I had to make a decision, get in the water again or not. It took me a while, but I did, but I haven’t had the same comfortability as before, but I had a need to face it, only way for me to overcome it. Avoid tough rapids for a while, master the basics again and then ease into a level you are comfortable with, but recognize that there is always risk involved. That is part of the fun I think.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 18, 2007 6:36 AM GMT
    From your profile you are 19.

    19 yo generally think they are immortal.

    You got a wake up call that you - and your friends - aren't.

    A good healthy fear of death is a good thing, it can make you look inside yourself and grow.

    Don't let it get in the way of living your life the way you want to, from doing the things you enjoy.

    Yes, the water is a scary place right now.

    What is your choice? To never go near the water again because you are afraid? What is the next thing you are going to be afraid of? What will you do then?

    That choice would scare me more.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 18, 2007 8:22 AM GMT
    First off, I'm realy sorry to hear about your friend. I have allot of straight friends whom I will never be interested in romantically but each of them still holds a very dear place in my heart.
    I also like to do things that scare me and constantly think about bad things that might happen to me when I do these things...
    The thing is not to let your fear get the better of your mind...
    It is also true that guys of your age... and mine, believe themselves to be invincable. USE THIS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE!!!!
    We are young and even though we are not immortal our bods can still take allot of beating. You don't want to wake up one day when you are ancient news and realise that you could have done so much more.
    One of my favourite mottos are: "Live (party) hard and die young... who wants to live forever anyway."
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Nov 18, 2007 12:39 PM GMT
    The way you conquer fear is self-explanatory
    you need to confront it

    yes kayaking is dangerous but you already knew that
    get back into your kayak - the sooner the better