mental health and travel
This is a question that struggles to find a satisfactory answer, but I think the answer is yes. I had anxiety attacks from 2004 – 2014, they were very serious from 2004 – 2006. Five hours a day, six days a week for those two years. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t think, love, live, leave the house, cook dinner, learn anything or enjoy anything. It was two years before I tried a new medicine that made me feel better and enabled me to work at recovery.
My anxiety attacks in present day are gone, prevented – by the things I learned from 2006 onwards and my awesome medication that I am still on today and think of with actual affection.
This is an extract from my book, my mental health memoir that is nearly finished.
Chapter 15 - The mental health writer’s guide to anxiety – don’t panic, Earth is mostly harmless
Note - this describes a part of my life in 2004 when I had cannabis induced psychosis with delusions of a grandiose nature. I thought I was telepathic, and this contributed doubly to the excruciating experience of having panic attacks.
I don’t remember my first panic attack. I’d had something similar on the ward at the general hospital, an isolated incident. Actually that happening on ward D4 was probably my first, but I don’t remember the first of the others. They were frequent, long and excruciating, but it was a couple of months before I started to categorise them as panic attacks. It seemed to me that there were no words that could describe them, to define how shit they were.
Well I call it a holiday, it was for me. It wasn’t a sunny clime (it pissed down mostly) but we did see a real Concorde (no, not in the air unfortunately, they haven’t done that since 2003) at the British Aerospace Museum. We ate at ZaZa Bazaars, my second favourite restaurant in the world, literally. We stayed for two nights in a four star hotel, where my mum and I were constantly picking faults. I’ll explain that in a bit. And the reason we went – my Brother, Will, lives there.
Most of us are lucky enough to know the joys of having infants in the family. Every single one of your ancestors had children. Much less of us know how great this can be for recovering from mental illness! For me, my nieces being born helped my anxiety in a rather special way.
So part two of this epic series (note to self – calm down Pete) is about being further along my anxiety recovery journey, when things were already moving along towards being over my anxiety and panic attacks. I’d learned that I could go out of the house and do general life stuff already, and that I would probably not panic (unless it was a bad day or a big event) and that sometimes doing life stuff was a necessity. But I wasn’t enjoying it. I wanted to learn how to be able to enjoy it.
If there’s one thing I have learned it’s how to relax. I had serious anxiety from 2004 to 2013 so it was a case of necessity being the mother of invention. During that time my desire to shift the shitty stuff was strong, there was no way I was ready to accept that my life was going to stay that way. I’d get anxious about leaving the house and then I got over that. Then I’d get anxious about slightly busy places like restaurants. Then I got over that. Then it was the work environment, and I got over that. (Forgive me for sounding like a self-important prick.) Then it was classroom situations, meetings and waiting rooms and I got over that. Then it was travelling and I got over that. Then it was being the centre of attention, like at a recent violin concert, and I did that too.
Is it? Back to the basics – I’m not discussing social media and staring at phones because this has been done to death. I watch a lot of TV, well probably – about three hours a day. I guess some people sit on their arses for hours and hours but my excuse for my perceived inexcusable TV watching habits is that I have few friends and feel too self-conscious and vulnerable to go to pubs and clubs, because having had a long journey with panic attacks and anxiety I am a bit different to others.
Might as well take a break from the usual and wade into politics for today’s blog post. I consider myself a smart guy on occasions but to be honest my Brexit knowledge stops and dries up before it gets anywhere near something useful. But I have some opinions and I know on which side I stand. I would genuinely love to hear any comments from either side, please do enlighten me in the comments section.
I’m a remainer. I have family in continental Europe. I think Europe has some fantastic and beautiful places. I read recently that with the exception of China, Europe is the most economically, politically, and technologically advanced place in the world. Why separate from that?
I like trains, they relax me, but I’m no train spotter. It was pretty special however to visit a steam railway and sheds today in the heart of Hampshire. The Watercress Line in Ropley is run by volunteers and has about 20 miles of track with two working steam engines. It’s very different to see all that smoke and steam accompanying the trains as they pull up to the platform and of course the classic chugging sound with all the bells and whistles.
I can tell you straight off the bat that there is no right or wrong answer. It depends on a few things. Take me for example, I am happy to describe myself when I was unwell as crazy, it’s accurately descriptive. 2001 – 2010 I had cannabis induced psychosis with delusions of a grandiose nature, so crazy I was. Since about 2005 I would joke about it all, even when it was a serious situation and I was unhappy. I have my brothers to thank for initiating the humour aspect, it was them who continued to joke with me about things when I was unwell. Brothers have that sibling bond that involves joking around, and when they did, it showed that even though I had a mental illness, they still saw me as a person with a sense of humour.