I’m not really one to write these kind of personal blogs, but in a week that is highlighting mental health, if just one person reading this piece can take some degree of comfort from it then my job here is done.
Those of you that know me know that I’m quite a private and quietly spoken kind of guy, some would say perhaps introverted? A little socially awkward? Well, that wasn’t always the case.
In my teens and my early twenties I was an extrovert, had more friends (or were they?) than I could shake a shitty stick at and I didn’t have a care in the world.
I used to drive then -you’re always popular when you have a car and spare cash to lend out to people I find.
Anyway, a series of life events happened to me at the end of my University days and a dark mist swiftly began to consume my whole body. I couldn’t function- the panic attacks were overwhelming and so very debilitating, and fear began to dictate my life. I couldn’t even leave my digs in the hours of daylight such was my fear of crowds etc.
I was prescribed a new so-called wonder drug in 1996 known as “Seroxat” (anti-depressant) but it didn’t suit me one bit and turned me into a complete zonked out zombie like person. I could feel the “real me” trapped inside a body that wasn’t mine and I was having some really negative thoughts that scared me. I can barely remember any of that year.
To cut a long story short I knew exactly where my life was heading under the influence of those tablets so I managed to ween myself off them, independently of my doctor.
My panic attacks never returned, but my personality completely changed. I was now somewhat of an introvert and very much dependent on the reassurances of others to go about my day to day life.
So bringing this anecdote forward and bringing it into recent context, I’ve been attending the Arc meeting in the last few years as part of a group or with a traveling partner, but found myself this year in a solo position for the visit. Something I was desperate to avoid.
For months I thought it would be a situation I could manage, but for the entirety of the week before I was due to fly out, I was stupidly gripped by the fear of the unknown. The panic-attacks I hadn’t experienced for almost 25 years were back. I felt so incredibly jittery last Thursday that cancelling the trip all together became a real option in my head.
So what drove me on? Well, it was the simple fact I was determined not to miss out on witnessing history if Enable won her third Arc. By hook or by crook I was going to get my silly scrambled head, full of all those nonsense worries, over to France.
Disappointingly I bumped into a few people at Longchamp who earlier in the year had indicated that they weren’t going to be there, and spending my evenings eating solo in Paris wasn’t the best feeling in the world either- but hey, from a personal point of view, I had conquered my own mental health struggles and got my sorry arse over there to witness and report on a sport I love.
Ironically as I flew home on Monday, I wondered to myself what all the fuss was about and why I had worked myself up into a bag of nerves in the first place?
If fear and worry is something that also holds you back, just remember that it can be overcome with positive thinking. If I can do it then so can you.