I happened upon English Channel Therapy quite by accident and quickly realized it was for me. The secret I discovered is that preparing to swim the English Channel takes all the essential ingredients of B2 treatment and rolls them into one convenient to use program.
To swim 36 km’s across the world’s busiest shipping lanes in cold rough water from Dover, England to Calais, France requires not surprisingly, a lot of practice. Practice requires exercise; exercise generates chemicals deficient in the B2 brain, the chemicals make you happy and you want to do it all over again.
The amount of practice is significant. I’ve swum solidly for two years and for the last year to a well-planned program specifically designed for English Channel swimmers. It involves four 2-3 hour pool sessions a week covering variously between 4 and 8 km a session, one long ocean swim per week of 4 to 8 hours, and one short ocean swim per week just for the love of swimming. I added to this 30 – 40 km per week program 2 one-hour personal training gym sessions a week to strengthen my legs (good for stability in rough water) and one remedial massage per week to keep me tuned. You don’t do the channel by halves or it will surely do you.
There are happy by products of an arduous training program. You get very tired and find yourself willing the sun to set so you can go to bed with some dignity. This is easier for single people. Everything about channel swimming is easier for single people. Good sleep helps B2: bad sleep aggravates the condition.
Early to bed, early to rise mightn’t make you wealthy and wise if you’re a channel swimmer spending half your day in the water but it will keep you off the grog. The prospect of getting up at 5 AM to swim for 3 hours with a thumping headache from the night before is more than most can stand. Moreover, it’s easier to give up the grog when the pain you’ve been numbing has gone due to the chemicals and sleep from the exercise the day before. See how the cycle works.
There are other aspects of the distance swimmers life that also helps mental illness. Your exercise is done mostly in the sun, at least in Australia. Vitamin D is good for people with broken brains. And when it comes from the sun, it’s free.
But wait there’s more. In the depths of depression and at the height of mania, it’s hard to keep friends. Open water swimming fixes that for it’s best done in a pack (one shark, many swimmers, you do the math). When you befriend your group of open water swimmers you will find them to be equally disturbed as you. It seems lots of people with demons use swimming to keep them in line.
ECT is a lifestyle not merely a sport , and it changes lives.