Swimming to raise funds for our charity: Daisy's story

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in #ProudofDPT, Mental health, News, Recovery and wellbeing on 19th June, 2019

Following a suicide attempt in July 2018 Daisy was initially admitted to The Cedars in Exeter and then moved to the Moorland View ward at North Devon District Hospital.

Daisy enjoys wild swimming and the activity has contributed significantly to the recovery of her mental health. To raise funds for the wards that helped her, Daisy decided to sign up to two wild swims. Last weekend she took part in the Dartmoor Open Swim and on 29 September will take on the Exmoor Open Swim.

Daisy tells us her story of the event on Sunday 16 June:

"My nerves set in for the swim on the Saturday afternoon, when I received an email from the race organisers to say that all race distances had been halved due to strong wind forecasts and safety concerns. I was initially disappointed that I would only be doing 1km rather than 2km, but knew that with the conditions forecast this was probably no bad thing.

"I arrived at Roadford Lake early on Sunday morning, and true to its word the weather was windy with some large grey clouds threatening overhead. From the shore the lake looked relatively calm, but as I later found out, looks can be very deceiving!

"After registering I met up with the other four swimmers who were swimming for Devon Partnership Trust, all of us huddled together to keep warm before going in. Out of the five of us, four were swimming in ‘skins’ (no wetsuit), including myself. The cut-off water temperature for skins swimmers is 15*C – the temperature on Sunday was just half a degree above this due to the recent rainfall, so we knew it would be chilly.

"Finally it was our turn to swim, and I was feeling confident and excited. The water was cool, but certainly not the coldest I’ve swum in, and we had a few minutes to acclimatise before the klaxon sounded to start the race.

"As soon as I left the shelter of the inlet and began to reach the middle of the lake, I realised why the distances had been shortened. Strong winds were causing some high waves to whip across the lake, with a serious amount of chop and swell. I was having to lift myself quite a way above the water to avoid swallowing a mouthful of Roadford Lake every time I took a breath!

"At the half way marker I turned to come back, and was told to head for a yellow buoy. A couple of hundred metres later a safety kayaker grabbed my attention to point out that I was woefully off course because of the strong winds pushing me northwards. He told me to aim for a couple of hundred yards left of the yellow buoy, assuring me I would end up in the same place due to the swell.

"I ploughed on, thinking all the while about the wonderful staff at DPT who kept me safe and well last year. My overriding thoughts during the swim were all about DPT, my time as an inpatient, and how far I had come to be swimming across Roadford Lake that day.

"Before long, I spotted the bottom of the lake through the murky waters, and knew that the end was in sight. Another hundred yards and my feet touched down and I staggered out of the water on to dry land, tired but happy. It was a tough swim given the conditions, and I welcomed the wonderfully hot shower afterwards!

"Being in the lake and fighting against the wind, I realised that I didn’t have anything to prove and nothing to aim for other than to make it back to the finish point. I took a brief pause when I needed it and plunged back into my strokes when I felt able to. Much like my journey since being in crisis last year, it is not the end result that matters, but the pausing, taking stock, being kind to yourself and taking things one step at a time towards recovery.

"Bring on Exmoor!"

You can sponsor Daisy by clicking here. For more information on Our Charity please email Daniel Robson, Head of Charity Fundraising on daniel.robson3@nhs.net.