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Sunday, 31 March 2019

Pave New Roads

Pave New Roads

If your experience is similar to my own, you have had to deal with the ever consistent unpleasantries of mental illness and the impact that it has on your daily life. For as long as I can remember, it has been an overpowering force that can leave me with no choice but to bow down and tap out for a period. I can't lie, I despise these moments where my mental disorders get the best of me but what can I do? At their peak, I need a day or so to recoup. Chances are I have mentally taxed myself to the point where my mind says "I can't take it anymore."

Over time, I have learned the signs of an impending mental low. The symptoms include but are not limited to; severe brain fog, cognitive impairment, short-tempered and an overwhelming sense of dread. I am of the opinion that it is quite OK to drop out of life for a day or maybe two, but at some point in time, I must reintegrate myself with the rest of the world. But how? These darker moments in my wellness journey are constructed by my illnesses telling me to stay home, to not get out of bed. Well, one of the things I have found that works to combat these severe dark days is to pave new roads. I do this by stepping out of my comfort zone.

I'm not one to stray too far from the places in which I am most familiar with, going into the uncharted or rarely explored territory is mentally exhausting, so much so that I tend to shy away from picking up and just and taking off. Despite how mentally taxing this is, last week I decided that the extreme funk I was in need of some sort of new approach. It was a longer and more intense dark period than I normally experience and all the regular things either weren't working or I wasn't up for. So I thought to myself; What can I do differently that doesn't involve other humans?

The day I decided it was time to at least try to turn down the anxiety meter even if it was just a point on the scale, it was a cold but otherwise beautiful day out, so I decided that I would get in my car and go for a drive with no particular destination. So, that's what I did. Was I feeling up for it? Absolutely not but I went anyway.

It may come as a surprise to some but I have never, not once in my life just got in my car and drove to a random place, one I have never been to, at least not on my own. So, as I embarked on my journey to who knows where I started to feel better. The cab of the car was that perfect warm temperature, that kind that is so comfy that you can't help but feel better, the music playing in the background also had an impact. It may have been helped along by my very loud karaoke session.

As I headed down this new road, I took in the many open fields and took note of the surrounding mountains in an attempt to live in the moment. Even though I wasn't in my immediate area, I was still in the valley I grew up in. I could feel the appreciation for the beauty around as the darkness consuming me started being won over by my real self once more.

I travelled for approximately an hour and ended up in a coffee shop where I was just another stranger passing through. Even though my anxiety really hates new places, I almost felt safe knowing that the chances of me running into someone I knew were very small. I think the drive there helped, but also just knowing that I could be around people again and not have to interact with them set me free from the anticipation of having to explain that my illness had flared up. I sipped away at my coffee and watched the unfamiliar world walk by.

Once I had finished, I jumped back into my car and made my way for home, feeling like the magic spell that mental illness cast upon me was starting to wear off and the symptoms associated with its powers over me had dwindled just enough to lift me out of its funk. Indeed, the next day I felt free once more.

So I dared to travel a road less travelled and faced the fears my anxiety produces. As a result, I was able to come out on the other side of the fog rejuvenated and ready for the world. I didn't think of it at the time, but what I had done in an almost desperate attempt to end my pain was paved a new road in my mental wellness journey. By trying something new I was able to accomplish my goal of paving this new road and as a result, I added another tool to combat my psychological ailments.

A New Destination. 
It seems to me that the biggest power anxiety has over those who suffer, is the power of avoidance, its talent, like a screenwriter is to write a script of a futuristic catastrophe. Therefore, we must find the strength to fight back, recognize avoidance and slowly learn how to combat it. We can do this because we are warriors.









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2 comments:

Nancy Brydon said...

A great entry! Facing anxiety with little steps it surprises the demon into submission...allowing new experiences with safety nets in place is a great practice and not overly exhausting

John Arenburg said...

Thank you so much! When your tried and true tools aren't working, its good to step out o your comport zone to try and beat your illness. Depression is a never ending battle