One member has learned to scuba dive suffering from anxiety and panic attacks thanks to her determination, and the care and support of her BSAC club’s instructors.

Kirsty Majitha from Leicestershire always found the underwater world to be truly mesmerising and had snorkelled in various countries (Thailand, Mexico, Cuba, Australia) where the infiniteness of the water and the shimmering creatures that lay under the surface fascinated her. 

Kirsty said:

Initially I struggled with fear in the water due to being short-sighted; making everything blurry even with the use of a prescription mask, so I didn’t really consider scuba diving. 
It was only after having laser eye surgery that the excitement of seeing all the amazing things underwater meant I realised I had more freedom to go surfing, snorkelling, kayaking and try scuba diving.
Kirsty and LUEC

Kirsty pool training in 2022

However, the arrival of COVID lockdowns then put everything on hold. Long periods of being stuck indoors or the back garden led Kirsty to make a list of everything she wanted to try out and to prioritise in her life when she had more freedom, one of which was to try scuba diving.

Finding a local scuba diving club

As soon as the lockdown restrictions eased, Kirsty contacted her local BSAC branch, Leicester Underwater Exploration Club, affectionately called LUEC. The initial Try Dive sparked both excitement and nervousness, but with the support of the club and instructors, she began her journey into scuba diving.

Kirsty continued:

I have previously been diagnosed with workplace-related anxiety and depression which I sought NHS support from. I had not needed to take any medication in several years, however, before I started diving I was aware that this is something that I needed to be mindful of and monitor. 
Kirsty and LUEC

First open water dive at Stoney Cove

My initial pool sessions were a challenge at times. The combination of excitement and nervousness with the drills such as mask removal and DV retrieval meant I had to repeat the drills several times before feeling comfortable in the pool, but I persevered. A bout of Covid-19 delayed my first open water session, so it wasn’t until May 2022 that I first took the plunge into Stoney Cove. 



Explainer: what is a panic attack?

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear.


Anxiety is a feeling of unease. It can range from mild to severe, and can include feelings of worry and fear. Panic is the most severe form of anxiety.

You may start to avoid certain situations because you fear they'll trigger another attack.

This can create a cycle of living "in fear of fear". It can add to your sense of panic and may cause you to have more attacks.

Panic attacks

During a panic attack you get a rush of intense mental and physical symptoms. It can come on very quickly and for no apparent reason. A panic attack can be very frightening and distressing.

Source: NHS

Help and reassurance from dive instructors

The safe, supportive and inclusive community of the club meant that Kirsty felt confident very early to share whenever she felt anxious with instructors or buddies, and for it be more than acceptable to ‘call’ (off) a dive if she felt too anxious. Kirsty said:

The reassurance that it is perfectly okay to share that you do not feel okay was a breath of fresh air to me, having been so used to having to mask my anxiety amongst family and friends. 

Sea diving in the UK

As she progressed through the training Kirsty’s love for diving continued to grow, despite her anxiety. A first sea dive at St Abbs was a revolutionary experience for her, where she marvelled at all the Dead Men’s Fingers (“bright orange and cream in every direction!”) and starfish everywhere.

Kirsty and LUEC

Kirsty on the shotline after diving the James Eagan Layne

There were challenges too, the biggest of which was when she experienced a panic attack underwater. Kirsty explained:

The club instructor I was with was absolutely amazing helping me; from the moment I signalled I was not okay he was such a support; helping me manage underwater, taking my hand, keeping me focused on him and slowing my breathing, until I could safely surface and providing stellar support above water to help me manage my feelings after the event.
The unwavering support from the club instructors and fellow divers was pivotal in helping me confront and manage the feelings of panic and being overwhelmed. 
Kirsty and LUEC

At Dosthill with members of LUEC

Qualifying as a diver

With continued practice and training Kirsty managed to recognise and navigate her anxiety to complete some great milestones: from passing her initial Ocean Diver training, then Sports Diver qualification and diving on the James Egan Layne and HMS Scylla shipwrecks in Plymouth:

These are all things I am immensely proud of and would not have been possible without my club. 

The qualifications keep coming, too! after recently completing a Buoyancy and Trim Workshop with the BSAC East Midlands regional team Kirsty is now the proud holder of 'black level' for her buoyancy, something she had been working on for quite some time.

Kirsty and LUEC

LUEC trip to Majorca in 2023

Kirsty and LUEC

LUEC trip to Majorca in 2023

Support from the club

Patience, encouragement, coaching and experience sharing from the club and instructors were crucial in building Kirsty's confidence and competence in diving. As a result, she now feels empowered and ready to support buddies who may struggle during dives, underscoring her personal growth and development as a diver:

This really illustrates to me the importance of having the right support systems in place.
I wholeheartedly recommend joining a BSAC dive club to any diver; but especially if they are a more nervous diver; the club community is a fantastic support network and knowledge base, with someone always happy to jump in the water with you, practice any and all drills that you want in order to gain confidence in and also show you what they love about diving.

Pre-diving safety guidance: if you have panic attacks

A history of panic attacks, or continuing medication to control anxiety, will require specialist advice from a UK DMC Medical Referee before starting diver training. Find a referee on the UK DMC website.



I'm interested in learning to dive, how do I get started?

You can either do a Try Dive taster session with a local BSAC club or a BSAC Diver Training Centre first or get started straight away from the comfort of your own home with BSAC eLearning! If you’d like to talk through your options, call us on 0151 350 6201 (Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00) for a chat!

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Diving for all programme

The BSAC DfA programme seeks to promote scuba diving to people with disabilities and provide divers, clubs and centres with the knowledge and skills to ensure that diving is safe for all BSAC members.

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