Welcome to The Secret Life of a Cuttlefish

Scuba diving is a lifestyle! Not only our job, our passion but a great big slice of our life: Let us share that lifestyle here with you ... everything from reflections, scuba diving adventures and amazing adventures under the sea! 

Behind the Mask

Everyone has their story, some happier than others, some ready to tell theirs, others not.

One thing people are generally ready to tell you is what made them choose their career path: “My dad was a doctor, so it’s always been on the cards”, “I love animals, why not a vet?”, “I love talking, sales is for me!”, “I always had a vivid imagination, why not a writer” … The list is exhaustive & by no means reflects the few examples shared here but you get my drift.

I’m no different really, except I didn’t find my perfect job after leaving school, nor after leaving uni, nor after having my kids … I found my perfect job, after my mid-life crisis!

And, not only did I find it after my mid-life crisis, but also after a long and hard break-down …

The moral to my tale, and I want to tell you before I even begin the story, is never take anything for granted, what some might see as “just a job”, saved my life!

I am a scuba diving instructor …

From an average family, I say that because they were average as opposed to great, I grew up in the north of England, went to an average school (somewhat like the family) and left home and the country because I could stand it, and them no longer!

Arriving in France, meeting my then partner, a little like my family - average -, I started to face what I was running away from. I was a victim of abuse, abuse dished out by an “average” close family friend from the age of 6 until 15. This is where my story is brief because although important to the cause of the breakdown, I don’t wish to traumatise or offend.

PTSD, borderline personality problems, anxiety, clinical depression, phobias … all the words bantered around for almost ten years. Anti-depression pills, anxiety treatments, endless amounts of medication for sleeping disorders, humour stabilisers … nothing seeming to have any long-term affect. Counselling sessions, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, doctors, a whole team of people digging into my mind, rummaging around to find the “reason” for my “problems” …

They needn’t have bothered. “Fancy trying scuba diving?” the question that “saved my life”!

And so the story went: first dive experience in a freezing cold lake, zero visibility - when are we going again?, 10th-ish dive, can’t imagine doing anything else but how do I get to do this all the time - bloody expensive?, 20th or so dive, do you think it possible “at my age” to do this for a living? And here I am today 2 years later - a PADI dive instructor & in the middle of studying for my degree to pass my exam to become a French recognised dive instructor … and I will never stop! One day I will be the oldest working diving instructor in the world - but don’t worry that’s a long way off!

The tablets, the treatment, the doctors? A thing of the past, I am “cured” for want of a better word. Nature has this way of calming me, of making me forget my nightmares. I sleep, mainly from the fatigue brought on by the dogged desire to work and dive as much as I can; wanting to make up for last time I suppose. The magic of the underwater world gives you a sense of wellbeing which is impossible to put into words.

Don’t get me wrong I have had to implement other changes to my life to be where I am today. Scuba diving demands a certain level of fitness, especially in a professional capacity. So, I “look after myself” better than I did before. I exercise regularly, respecting diving recommendations concerning exercising before & after diving & eat a good diet. Another change I made, along with my profession, exchanging my vegetarian diet to vegan - not to be done without guidance from a nutritionist - & I truly believe that this has also had an influence on my mental health improvements.

As for the chemical medications? They no longer litter my bathroom cabinet; replaced by homeopathic approaches & in place of the psychiatrists couch you are much more likely to find me relaxing and enjoying my once monthly acupuncture session!

Behind the mask …

Behind the mask is a woman, with a past but who is today, like the majority of the world locked down in her home without the freedom to dive. Behind the mask is a woman trying desperately to keep at bay the demons that trigger the PTSD, the anxiety …

And behind the mask is a dive instructor who also needs to go back to work. Don’t judge the importance of our job by the fact it makes up part of the sports, hobbies & recreational activities. Be kind because behind the mask you don’t know what is going on.

Behind my mask, my scuba diving mask, life is a whole lot easier on me, on my illness!

Behind my mask I still have a future, my “best life”…

And behind your mask, be safe, be careful …

My final words here are of thanks, thanks to my dive instructor, my mentor, my partner, my best friend. You know who you are!