I was in the underground station today and was shocked at the amount of instructions that lay in front of me! “Queue here”, ”Stand to the right”, “Blue footprints” on the escalator steps as to where to out your feet, hand prints on the hand rail to put your hands, signs everywhere as to what to do and where to go. “Stand clear of the doors”, “Move down inside the carriage”, the list of instructions was mad! It’s almost like I don’t even know how to walk anymore without being told how or why. It’s true to say this of a lot of things. Media tells us one week we can do one thing and the next we can’t. One week it’s good for us the next it’s not! The truth is I’m at the point where I have started to ignore the so many instructions and started thinking for myself! What a novelty! I went into a store the other day to buy a book and on paying the checkout lady said “you can have this bar of chocolate for half price!”. “No thanks” I replied. She looked shocked and said “buts its half price!”. “But I don’t want the chocolate!”, she looked visibly shocked I didn’t take up the offer. Another instruction as to what I should be doing!
I can only speak for myself but it seems now we are living in a world where we just keep getting told what to do without free thought and feeling bad if we don’t! Well I am making a stand called “Free will!”
You see anything is possible! I so often hear the word “Cant” or “Cannot” or “No way” but why? I truly believe anything is possible, if you put your mind to something. A dream, yes any dream or aspiration is totally achievable. Let me give you some examples, not to blow my own trumpet but just some of my personal experiences.
I had bought a bike from eBay for £200 and decided to do the London to Brighton bike ride in aid of a charity very close to my heart, the NSPCC. Now the bike ride was great fun, exhausting (I don’t really do training!) and I managed to get round it, although walking up a few hills especially the last one which I hear is nicked named “Cardiac arrest hill!” It is mammoth and the steepest winding thing I have ever experienced. It nearly sent me to A&E just pushing my trusty stead up it, but I finished and got my first medal. I was so proud, but did I really do the London to Brighton bike ride? It was more the “The London to Brighton bike, walk, stop, eat chocolate bike ride.”
The next year I decided to go again and put slightly more training in. I prepared (if only for the week before), but that’s good for me! My mission was to not stop, get off or walk up a hill. The thought of “Cardiac Hill” gave me nightmares as I set off. I dug deep on every hill, was it my legs? My arms? My muscles? No it was my head, my mind, my determination, my resolve, my belief that anything is possible if you really want it. I stopped at the bottom of Cardiac Hill and sat on my bike, both feet planted on the floor and just kept saying, “you are so going to do this.” Dream, believe, achieve! I mounted the saddle and begun, one pedal at a time up the longest hilliest hill ever! Half way up people were walking faster than I was peddling but I was not to be defeated. The noises coming from my mouth were like something off an adult movie and the pain intense. Everything hurt apart from one thing, my mind. I was going to do this. As I saw the peak, the pain went, the noises went and my legs pedal faster. I had defeated the very thing I thought I could never do. Yes my mind took over everything and I was victorious. The sensation was beyond epic! Since then I have cycled from Edinburgh to London with no training (or map) over 7 days! Cycled from London to Paris, again with no map (that’s a hysterical story for another time!) I have walked 36 hours non-stop, 24 hours non-stop, jumped into the sea in a mankini to get signature’s for a cancer patient, sky dived, had my legs waxed (I honestly don’t know how you females do it, so painful!) Lived as a parent with a child with Type 2 diabetes and faced my greatest fear ever, a bungee jump! Why, because I believed I could! I didn’t need instructions, a hand on a rail, a map, a sign, a nothing. I believed, put my mind to it and just thought, “well if I don’t try I will never know!” The power of my mind took over and fear was just a small obstacle in the way of my determination.
When in the depths of depression and anxiety I would be in my bed and say “I can’t get out”. Mail would arrive and I would stare at it and say “I can’t open it”. I would see people I knew and think “I can’t see them”. The phone would ring and I would think “I can’t answer it”. I would be invited for dinners, parties, gatherings and I would say “I can’t”. I would often cancel at the last-minute, letting people down, but I was wrapped in a deep loathing of self, no self-esteem. Depression and anxiety for me was a vicious circle, the anxiety would come, the depression would then arrive, then the anxiety get bigger and around in circles I would go. Even getting in to the shower or brushing my teeth seemed like the impossible and believe it or not this happened both before and after my challenges I mentioned earlier. It can come at any time without warning, it’s like the wind and the rain, the sun and the showers. There is never any pre warning!
So how did I overcome this? How did I beat the debilitating fear? The octopus arms wrapped around me making it impossible to move (this is how I saw it in my head!). Strangled, motionless, unable to think, remember, focus or plan even the next ten minutes. I lay in bed one morning, pretty much the same as most mornings and decided to remove one octopus leg at a time! First was to simply get out of bed and make it. It was an epic step, although to some this may seem simply stupid, mental illness can take over the most simplest of tasks! I had said “I can” in my head not “I can’t”. Very slowly each leg of the octopus started to un-peel and one leg at a time I swung out of bed. This was the first tiny step to freedom from that place under the duvet and in my head. I was saying “I can” not “I can’t”. I showered, shaved and brushed my teeth (too many times) and started to feel good about myself, if only in a tiny way. Then the next big step, I started to reach out. The many letters were mainly unpaid bills and demand letters, bailiffs, threats and people wanting what they were rightly owed. I was gripped in fear. I made my first call. I honestly hung up at least five times but eventually I heard a voice. I took a deep breath and explained my situation. No lies, no bravado, no bullshit, no ego, pure and simple honesty. Guess what? They were understanding, lovely, caring and very sympathetic. I began to make arrangements and every one was just brilliant. I am paying them back and my confidence began to grow, a fear had been removed. Why? I said, after some time, “I can”, not “I can’t”. It was massive. As massive as the bike rides, the walks, the sky dive even the bungee jump! I also, and I have written about this before, I always put my right sock on first so I made a change. I started putting my left sock on first. Trust me it was so uncomfortable, but after a few days it felt good, I had made change by myself, for myself. Yes, I was taking a step towards I can, not I cant!
We are not put on this planet to hurt or be hurt, although it is part of life. But with love for one’s self and a belief anything is possible, anything is achievable. Whether that be making a bed, opening a letter, walking for 36 hours or jumping in the sea in a mankini (not advisable!) or anything you fear is a huge goal and it’s just for you! The bravest, strongest most incredible people I have ever met are the ones that can come back from the lowest points and the greatest gift is to then share, help and give life experience away freely. I am no doctor nor therapist, this is just my experience and it is working (I say working because PTSD is a life long daily input of effort to look after me), when I look after me, love me, care for me, then and only then am I free to share, help and do what I love to do most, help others!
Remember YOU are the possibility, it may not seem it sometimes but you are capable of anything, you just have to believe in yourself, put your head in the positive space and the most important thing, don’t care what anybody thinks. This is your life, your dreams, your achievements and your goals. It is your life to own, to make memories, to challenge yourself, to be the most incredible person you were put here to be. But (there is always a but right), you have to work for it, nothing will ever just be put on your lap. Reach out, change a routine and a sock and live the change!
If I can do this so can you and this also means you are not alone. Beyond fear and anxiety lies the greatest freedom and happiness you will know. Go to work and know this, it is your time to fall in love with you and make yourself proud. For once in your life do something just for you and cross your personal goal finish line with your head held high and you don’t need a footprint on the escalator, a hand on the rail or to move down the carriage. Its time you took charge of you. It’s time to love you because you’re so capable of being everything you were born to be and dream of being!
Now is your time!
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