On the plane coming home from Nepal I had a moment where I accepted that my mental health needed addressing and I should probably get some help. I still haven’t reached out for that help because I delay it with complaining on this website, listening to sad music and playing animal crossing but believe me I will get around to it… one day. I’ve written about it before but there’s a weird line between being too critical of yourself and not accepting/working on flaws that I’d not really put much thought into before. What is wrong with me, is it actually wrong, and if so what do I do about it?
My anxiety and panic attacks while on the trip are well documented and are a genuine problem that needs some work. I wrote something surprisingly profound in my notes app during that flight that I’d like to share.
Anxiety is not intuition.
I mean looking at it, it’s not much. But at the time I struggled with this massively, I thought I was non-committal to things because it was my intuition and my intuition was right. You don’t like being outside your comfort zone Brad, so don’t do it. Don’t do anything new, don’t scare yourself, don’t be more than what you are – comfortable. I yearn for fun experiences like travel and spontaneous adventures; these great things are glamorised in my head and I’m going to get out there and do it! Then the day comes to do it, and I freak the fuck out.
It made me question whether or not I really wanted to experience those things. After all, I’m pretty content at home chilling out and doing my hobbies in my own safe comfortable space. Every time something fun or new comes up, possibly scary, I don’t enjoy it and spend the whole time waiting to get done and be alive on the other side. I was terrified 90% of the time we were within arm’s length on civilisation in Nepal despite nothing dangerous or worrisome really happening at all, so why? I can’t live in the present. When I’m at home living my everyday boring existence I spend a lot of time thinking and planning grandiose adventures to far off countries; just to get to those countries, freak out, not enjoy my time and count down the days until I’m home. 2 days after getting home Nepal I was googling long distance hikes in Europe for fuck sake! Anxiety is not intuition because intuition doesn’t have to be telling you that everything is scary and bad things are always going to happen.
I still don’t really know how to approach this. I’ve definitely got better since realising what’s going on, plus looking back on the great times I had in Nepal helps. It still spins me out that I’ve had this problem my entire life and I only realised it’s not normal 4 months ago. There’s been so many times during my adolescence riding BMX bikes where I’d been in sketchy situations and bailed, despite nothing bad ever happening. I always put it down to me being smart and mindful, very aware of my situations but thinking back on it I was just on edge constantly! I enjoyed doing things back then like I do now, I have the ability to live in the moment for good care free moments – but when things get new and different? Anxiety takes the reins and I have bailed out of a lot of experiences. Experiences that probably would’ve exposed me to more and opened my eyes to the world a bit earlier. I might not even be in this predicament if I’d jumped in a few cars and met up with a few people back in the BMX days. Maybe I’d have real confidence instead of throwing myself into things and having to fake knowing what I’m doing half the time.
I made it a priority this year to get out of my own head, work on my anxiety and experience new things without fear. Obviously as everyone knows that’s kinda had a spanner thrown in the works with the coronavirus but I’m still doing my best. It’s important to self reflect every now and then to make sure you’re getting the best out of yourself. I now know that these crazy ideas of adventure are who I am – I do want to see the world while doing out of the ordinary physical efforts. Anxiety is detrimental to that goal of who I want to be so I need to tackle it and release its hold over me. Approach your personal restraints and work through them to become the person you want to be.
Sorry to anyone who reads my stuff because I feel like I’ve been writing pretty poorly lately. I’ve had a lot of things floating around my head that I’m struggling to write down coherently because my brain is a mess right now with the current virus situation. Just want to say if you do read my stuff I appreciate you and I hope to be better soon. Also I’d love to chat with anyone going through anything similar mental health or IBD related. If you’re not having a great time and want to talk about it, or anything for that matter comment on this post or message me on Instagram @bradmcauliffe.