Depression, Anxiety and Baby Steps

scenic view of the mountain
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I think one of the most enlightening findings to date is that the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome are often those found to be festering in my mind.

 

Yesterday I deviated from my route of cycling alongside the Nantes – Brest Canal and took to the roads. The advantage being that it was more direct and I had a bit of catching up to do from a rather slack day two. The disadvantage (of course there’s always one) is that I therefore encountered hills. Not just a little ouch on the legs for ten seconds and it’s over, but serious back, leg and bottom breaking stuff that makes muscles holler in pain and the lungs scream. But where there’s an up there’s always a down and the freewheeling to follow is a respite – until the next one.

 

And then of course there’s always the danger of counting ones chickens before they’ve hatched… As I pushed Claude (my bicycle for new readers) up yet another ‘colline’ and looked around me I thought that frankly I couldn’t get any higher, and relief did rather start to wash over me. It was also the tail end of the day and nobody could surely be that cruel to put yet another challenge in my way.

 

Err … Mistake. As I rounded the bend, yes, a long freewheel down but then a monster, a beast of a long, not to be messed with, avoided or run away from, MOUNTAIN! (Fair enough, very, very large hill) …

 

Dear God even if I squeezed my eyes tightly shut, put my fingers in my ears and shouted, “La! La! La!” it would still be there to face me.

 

Remember the children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt? Well, I had no option but to go over this bugger even if I walked the entire way. And neither tears nor a tantrum would make it magically disappear.

 

And then I remembered the phrase, baby steps.

 

You can’t eat an elephant burger in one go, so you break it up into bite-sized pieces.

 

Bearing in mind that my options at this point were fairly limited, I sensed this approach was worth giving a go. Firstly of course there had to be acceptance that there was going to be pain and secondly that it was going to be a lengthy form of pain.

 

But, little section by little section I tackled my mountain, puffing, heaving, fighting the bastard thing, sweating, panting, howling at times in sheer frustration …

Sometimes however from afar a hill can be perceived as a mountain as are many challenges in life and the prospect of undertaking such a task can be frightening in itself. But as with so many things, if it’s broken down it’s in actual fact not quite so terrifying.

 

Slowly, slowly, bit by bit I cycled, pushed and heaved my way up. When I had enough breath, I sang songs that I could only remember the first two lines of, so starting making up the rest … Gave up on that and sang happy birthday to me even though it wasn’t, but at least I knew the words. I pretended I was an incredible author and was a guest on a talk show (Graham Norton’s as it happens – yup, a repetitive fantasy) and all the wonderfully witty stories I would tell (hadn’t of course worked out what they were exactly), oh and the best one was doing a book signing at Waterstones in Picadilly – apparently the biggest one in Europe! And the queues were out of the door! “Oh I’m so sorry you’ve been waiting!” I’d smile coyly.

Oh what marvellous daydreams I have!

 

But on I battled. Keeping my mind preoccupied with thoughts of nonsense simply to keep away the constant reminder of the physical agony. There were no tears, just pain aching long and hard. Baby steps … baby steps …

 

But wait just a heart-in-your-mouth minute … can this really be so? Is that really, truly, dare I say it, the top? Have I climbed my very own Mount Everest?

 

Well blow me down with a bicycle pump! Indeed I have! And I grin, widely and congratulate myself with another two mouthfuls of crunchy baguette, and a glug of water and stand and look around me.

 

Distance is a remarkable thing … the colours of the land stretch out and become softly muted. Figures and any features or forms of human activity are now invisible to the eye and the complete silence gives way to solitude. A feeling of total peace from being utterly alone, drifts and washes softly over me. Perhaps I truly am in heaven.

 

Katie xx

 

What challenges have you got in your life at the moment that you’re afraid of? And how do you manage your fears? (Not by singing happy birthday I’m sure!)

 

42 thoughts on “Depression, Anxiety and Baby Steps”

  1. Lol I’m impressed you had the breath for Happy Birthday! I’d be gasping away and doing my book signing with a pretend pen attached to my nose, so any passing motorists would think I was drunk or had a head injury.

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    1. Well I had 48 hours of storms and that was pretty interesting! But my little tent just about held out although I was pretty soggy by the time I crawled out … It’d spring a couple of leaks! Now however it’s very hot and lovely and as I type I’m in my sleeping bag, no leaks to worry about and I can just hear the wildlife around me. It’s very dark though so I have to convince myself that I’m not scared! You ok? Katie

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      1. Glad it’s working out and very impressive! I can only do a couple nights tenting because I’m Rotating all night long because my shoulder and arm have fallen asleep : ). I’m doing well thanks.

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  2. Hmm, maybe I SHOULD sing Happy Birthday to myself haha 🙂 sometimes it is the small thing that gives me anxiety and I tell myself once the task is over the anxiety for that task will be as well. So glad you accomplished that “mountain”!! Well done!

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  3. I’m just glad to hear you and Claude remain in one piece. As a runner I know all about the evil that are hill climbs. Bite sized chunks are the only way to surmount them. Chelsea and I have been pining without you. Looking forward to hear how the book is coming along.

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    1. Awww big hugs to you and Chelsea. Having a bit of a low day today, Betty is snapping at my heels. I will persevere and yes, you of all people with your running I know will understand the ups and downs both physically and mentally that take their toll. Thank you my friend.

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    1. I’m doing about 1000 kms, taking a very winding route from Roscoff down to below Bordeaux to a little place called Moliets-et-Maa which is where I’ll be joining the family. Very, very hot day today … 37 degrees! Ouch!

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  4. Well done. There is no shame in walking for a bit. I used to dread hills and think ‘oh not another hill!’ Now I tell myself ‘I love hills’ – it’s surprising what a difference it makes!

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  5. Well done. Have been wondering how you are getting on. Do you have set points to get to each day? Breaking it down sounds like a very good idea. It works for me when hiking. And digging a big hole (trying not to sound like serial killer).

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    1. Ive been doing about 50kms a day although I appear to be ahead of schedule at the moment so am staying at this little campsite for two nights. It’s very hot – yesterday at 3 it was 37 degrees and I was still cycling – quite hard work! How’s your lovely garden? Hope all is well with you. K

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  6. Awesome! Katie, you’re so inspiring! Solo travel by plane is one thing. Camping is another. Solo travelling and camping feels too big a challenge for me at this point, but if you can do it, maybe I can baby steps my way to my own adventure someday.

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  7. So I might have missed this, I’m struggling with concentration a little bit right now to be honest, but did you name your depression Betty? I love that if you did. I’ve never thought of naming mine but it feels so familiar and pervasive it might as well have a name like a person.

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    1. Yes I did! I found that once it had a name, it was familiar and known to me and therefore some of the fear immediately dissipated. Sounds slightly daft but it really works. I can shout at Betty, tell her to bugger off and blame her for all sorts! Win/win! Many thanks for reading … Katie x

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