If you look at any of my social media pages you will find numerous posts from my many trips around the world. It would seem I have a happy perfect life, exploring different destinations with my loved ones, eating different foods and over all having a great time. However a lot of the time it took much time and energy just to get out of bed or calm myself down enough to be able to explore and enjoy those places.
I have struggled with anxiety for the majority of my life. One of my earliest memories of struggling with my anxiety comes from a family trip to Florida for my birthday in 2005. I got very upset and threw what appeared to my parents as a major hissy fit upon them deciding we were going to Gator Land for the day. I remember being very upset and distressed and extremely terrified of this place I had never been to before, whose name told me would be home to these fearsome creatures that I had only seen and heard bad things about through my television.
My brain had gone into overdrive, my anxiety filling me with over the top images of alligators attacking people and filling me with the idea of this park not being safe and confused as to why my parents wanted to go there. My Dad repeatedly asked me again and again what was so bad and why I didn’t want to go, but being only nine years old at the time I had no idea how to explain what was going through my head or how to describe the panic that was trying to burst from my chest. I eventually was calmed enough to be taken with them and find out that it wasn’t anything like I had expected and that my brain had acted completely irrationally.
For a long time I had agreed with my parents and that I had just had a childish “hissy” fit that day, but now being older and with the power of hindsight I can see it was so much more.
It took until meeting Ben when I realised another mental health issue might be at play in my life. After three years of being on my own, finally having someone who really cared about me and who I really cared for brought to light the emotional impact that depression was having on me. From feeling these intense tingles and happiness being around Ben to waking up and having days where I wasn’t feeling anything at all. After months of emotional fluctuation things got to the point where I was so low and being so affected by this unknown force in my life that I wanted to end it all. This is where I was lucky enough to have Ben to encourage me to see a doctor and get an official diagnosis. Not only was I struggling with anxiety but depression too. No wonder I was feeling so ripped apart.
It has given me the insight as to why I have felt and behaved the way I had over the years and also showed me all the times it had held me back. Having been diagnosed and being in a relationship with someone who supports me and understands me has lifted a massive weight off my shoulders and has given me time to work out what I do want to do with my life, However it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has made that easier either.
Now having a stable partner in my life I decided I wanted to travel more. A lot of my trips as a child had now been tainted for me due to me recognising my anxiety and depression in memories of those trips. The memories of my parents frustration at taking me away and me not wanting to get out of bed and explore is something that haunts me and motivates me in my travels now.
I still find myself at times struggling on trips though. For example on our most recent trip to Spain I came back to our hotel room after breakfast and my depression and anxiety hit me hard. I knew there were things for us to go and do, I also knew I was in need of a shower but my body wouldn’t move. My brain demons had hit me hard with my depression pinning me down and my anxiety trying to push me to move on and I just felt torn, all I could do was cry. I was so grateful to have Ben in that moment to be patient with me and slowly coach me back into life by propping me up with his own body, encouraging me to drink my favourite drink (Spanish Fanta) and playing some songs from my favourite (also depressed) artist Dodie for me to relate to and make me feel human again.
So in summary my advice to those of you who may be struggling with similar mental health issues is find a way of storing your favourite things. For me it just so happens to be Ben’s brain, but it could be a journal or care box you leave yourself of your favourite things that will encourage you out of your dark moments, for just a moment so you can get back to focusing on you and what you want to do.