Being alive comes with it’s ups and it’s downs. Every day is different and yet every day starts with a sunrise and finishes with a sunset. You never know what each day is going to throw at you. Slowly, I’m starting to learn it’s not what happens but how you react to it that is the most important factor in how much an event affects you.
My dear friend, Jessie, knows all too well about events which are out of your control suddenly taking over your every thought and creating an irrational monster you don’t recognise as yourself. So we chose to escape. Although perhaps not psychologically, we definitely escaped from the Northern Beaches physically.
We’d planned an adventure. I didn’t quite realise how far our adventure was going to take us, or I would have taken a few more things with me. Like some water. Our planning went a little bit like this:
Jessie: [walks into my room and squishes me] “I need to get away from the beaches”
Me: “Sweet, where we going?”
Jessie: “Decision to be made in the car”
We fuelled up and after a brief discussion decided to head south. We navigated Sydney and headed straight down towards Wollongong. A lot of awful singing, some great sign spotting and some games of sweet and sour later, we ended up at Mt. Kiera Look out point, with views across the whole of Wollongong, the ocean and the farmland either side. It was quite the mesmerising view. Mountain air had us transfixed, causing me to ignore my apparent hunger for perhaps slightly too long. Soon our bellies were growling as we prowled through Wollongong looking for a feed. Karma was obviously on my side, as the café messed up my order and double saladed me. No complaints over here! Jessie found a rock. That girl is obsessed with sitting on rocks by the ocean, and I can see why. As we looked out at the coast line winding its way away from us, the reason for the distance was finally discussed. The reason for the escape was unveiled.
As often is with women, it was a man. A man who, although lovely, had a slightly different set of views to my sweet Jessie. Feelings are hard, and no matter how much you don’t want to have them sometimes they come up and stab your rationality in the back. There’s no controlling who you get them for. Just as there’s no controlling who gets them for you. You can try and ignore them, but I’ve found from experience it’s definitely better to face them. Sometimes what you need is to sit on a rock with your best friend, far far away from anyone else who knows you as have a good chat. No, it won’t solve the problem, but as my mother says “a problem shared is a problem halved”. Slowly, Jessie will start to heal, and soon she’ll return to feeling like her again. It won’t happen overnight, but one day really soon she’ll wake up and feel normal again.
For our therapeutic homewards journey we took the scenic route, hugging the coast line until we reached the Royal National Park. At which point we wound through what felt like tropical jungle until we eventually popped out on the edge of Sydney. The views were unrivalled and driving across is sea cliff bridge was a pretty cool experience. Despite the fact we added an hour to our journey and spent most of the park thinking we were lost, if you’ve got the time I highly recommend taking the scenic route through the whole of Australia, because those signs don’t lie.
Mental health is a funny thing. Rather fittingly I headed to One Wave Is All It Takes’s fluro Friday event the next day, and a fellow attendee likened surfing to facing the internal battle so many people face. Both her and I got pushed back by a wave that came through as we were trying to get out the back, and as we both popped through she said to me “some days you just have to keep on paddling, like in life.” She’s quite right. Even though sometimes it’s really hard and there doesn’t seem like a hope in hell that you’ll make it, if you just keep paddling and keep pushing back against those barriers, you will get there. Incidentally we both made it out the back today, a feat a year ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of.
I’ve come a long way in the past year. I’ve faced challenges I never thought I would face. I discussed things I wanted to bury. I learnt things I’m not even sure I knew could be learnt. And strangely enough, the hardest conversations and the more uncomfortable experiences in my life have lead me to this point, where I am exceedingly contented and feel freer than I think I have ever felt. I don’t have a remedy or a recipe which has led me to here, the only advice I can give is to a) talk about those things which are hard to talk about and b) try as many new things as possible until you find one that makes you happier than a bumble bee finding nectar.