January 2013 was a turning point in my life! Upon spending 5 years in an inferno of pain and strong medication caused by psoriatic arthritis, I found that freediving was my path to a fighting and fantastic version of myself. I transformed from a damned cripple into a fantastic athlete who could show his kids and surroundings that where there is a will there is also a way. I found equanimity, self-worth and a positive outlook on life with my new sport. I never would have discovered my exceptional gift for freediving had it not been for my damn arthritic condition. That alone has changed my world view from a perspective of limitation to a view of endless potential!
I was on some fierce medication for 5 years because I had been told that medication was the only source of relief there was to offer. The only problem though was that besides relieving my pain, the medication robbed me of my quality of life and the ability to be the kind of person I knew myself to be before the condition invaded my life. I had gone from being a self-employed business owner to a disability pensioner. It was a nightmare. Now, I live a life without medication and the nightmare is over. Psoriatic arthritis cannot be cured; however, today I can live with it because I have won my life back without being dependent on drugs. Once again, I am the partner and father that my family and I deserve. I am no longer a passive spectator to my own wretched life. I am proactive, committed, and last but not least, happy.
I learned about freediving by coincidence! I took some swimming classes for my condition and was introduced to some breathing exercises that brought my attention to the sport. As it turned out, I had a completely undiscovered potential and gift – a potential and gift that I probably would have never realized had it not been for that awful psoriatic arthritis!
Yoga has become an essential means to mobilize my stiff joints and keep them flexible and strong. Yoga is also my mental lifeline where I find peace, and focus on the task and shut out everything else. It is a fantastic supplement to my training which requires complete inner calm in order to embrace the dive.
Prioritizing an alkaline diet has played a central role in my new life! The diet regulates my general well-being and makes me perform my very best in competitions. In short, the alkaline diet is all about consuming large amounts of vegetables, fruits, and water and minimize the intake of sugar and carbs. The diet strengthens muscles and joints and was pivotal in my deciding to drop my medication.
When it became clear that I could reach something extraordinary through freediving, I decided to set myself free from the massive intake of medication which dulled and inactivated me. The doctors said it would take months of cutting back because of the side effects of a sudden discontinuation. But I could not wait that long. I was so ready to move on. So, I isolated myself for two weeks in a beach house and went through a turbulent and uncomfortable detox on my own – and luckily, I succeeded. I came off the medication and was now able to start that new life that I felt so strongly was waiting for me.
I embraced it! Life! And it took on a hugely different shape than the empty and damned life that used to be mine. The world opened up through my freediving and my new lifestyle which was so fundamental that to this day (a couple years later) I still have control over my own health and quality of life – despite my chronic condition AND as a result of my will-power and obdurate belief that I have a crucial influence on my life.
Today, I have won a new and credible identity because I decided that my arthritic condition should no longer define who I am. The world of freedivers has welcomed me with open arms. The calm and peace that embrace me and fill me up when I dive towards the bottom of the ocean have become an irreplaceable part of my life. Freediving gave me passion for life again.
I am a winner and a warrior! I thought I had lost it all. So I had everything to win. And I did!