Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes your life does not go to plan, sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to even if you tried hard to make sure they would. Sometimes really terrible, tragic things happen and you have to rebuild, and…
I may not have been snowboarding for long and I may not be very good, but riding has already changed my life in ways I didn’t think was possible. Of course, when I took it up my intention was that it would help me to turn my life around, but it still surprises me that in such a short space of time it has had such a profound effect.
Snowboarding has given me confidence. The confidence to push myself hard and take small risks to enjoy my life, the confidence to talk to new people, the confidence to no longer worry about looking stupid no matter how hilariously I fail. I’ve learnt that if you don’t put in 100% with no fear, you’ll never do your best or achieve your full potential.
It’s helped me to find healthy coping strategies for those late nights when there’s nobody around. When I’m anxious or when I’m starting to have suicidal urges that before I would’ve acted on, I can lock my door and just immerse myself watching edits, movies, documentaries and tutorials. I don’t have to think, I don’t have to feel. Obviously, it’s not always effective, but it definitely has saved me from crisis on multiple occasions.
When I’m on the snow, nothing matters anymore except for the feeling of descending the slope, having fun and trying to improve my technique. I can’t afford to get distracted because whenever I do, I fall, but I don’t get distracted about negative things anyway because I’m generally feeling too pumped up and concentrating hard.
That’s not to say I don’t have struggles while on the slope, of course. I have horrible anxiety about using the Poma lift because I’m still not good at catching it or staying balanced while being dragged up. I had a particularly hard fall that made me dissociate and possibly triggered an absence, I’m always a little concerned about possibly breaking my wrist as a violinist, and some days I just ride far better than others and it gets extremely frustrating. But even on bad days, everything from outside is left at the door of Xscape: all my problems, my past, everything.
Since I booked my very first lesson, I’ve always had something to look forward to. I was facing a long, lonely summer and now I don’t even care that I’m alone. (Not that I am anymore exactly, I’ve made some good friends through riding.) My whole life now revolves around my music and snowboarding. No matter how shit my day is, how bad my mental health is, snowboarding is basically giving me a reason to stay alive, and has reminded me what being happy and having fun feels like.
Of course, I can’t overlook that already, my physical health has improved significantly. One of my primary motivations for starting to snowboard was in the hope that a fun physical activity would not only help on its own but also serve as motivation to improve my health to the best it can be. Sure enough, my preparation period and my continued desire to become the best snowboarder I can be has made me more consistent with my diet, exercise, and taking care of my body. I’m fainting less than I was, I feel better than I did, I’m able to do more than I could and I’m getting stronger and fitter every week.
Taking up the sport was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions of my life. I love the sense of achievement I get when I learn something new, I love the happiness it brings, I love how alive it makes me feel and how much it’s helping me progress as a person.
Before I started snowboarding I had money, dignity, grace and my bedroom wasn’t perpetually decorated with soggy outdoor clothing hanging up to dry. Now I’m always damp, cold, bruised, aching, I make a fool of myself daily, and will probably be broke my whole life. But do I regret it? Absolutely not.
Awful selfie, but thank you to @Snozone_UK Castleford for a fantastic lesson! Next stop: Olympics. (Ok, maybe not.) pic.twitter.com/EfxchMYCcn — Miss ASTRID 🐝 (@itsmissastrid) May 24, 2016 Words cannot even begin to describe how happy I am right now to have successfully completed my first…
When I was first admitted to day hospital they asked me if I could identify any signs or behaviours that were an indicator that my mental health was deteriorating, and at the time I couldn’t and didn’t even care enough to want to work it out and help myself.
Following my recent return to crisis state but newfound drive to try even harder to get as near to well as I can, I’ve tried to look at these most recent events to see if there were any similarities in my behaviour so that in future I might be able to spot the descent myself, or at least so that other people can advise me to get help if they spot them and I don’t.
I want to share my list here so that not only does it keep me accountable, but perhaps if anybody reading this is in a similar position to where I was before, you might be able to draw parallels to your own life and it might help you to work out what your own indicators are. Of course though, this is very much dependent on what your conditions are.
For me, my list goes almost in order:
- I start to stay longer in bed and ignore my schedule.
- I stop allowing even my closest friends to touch me.
- I stop cleaning.
- My washing piles up.
- Eating patterns become erratic. (Don’t eat for a week, eat everything twice the next.)
- Significant weight loss or gain.
- Making no effort with my physical appearance. (Not washing my face, not even dry shampooing my hair, wearing mismatched clothes)
- Physical health deterioration.
- Avoiding contact with friends.
- Avoiding/cancelling necessary appointments.
- Not attending classes.
- Irrational thinking (that I don’t believe to be irrational until afterwards).
- Only leaving the flat for alcohol. (People seeing me drunk more often outside of a standard social setting should definitely ring alarm bells)
- Becoming more flirtatious with the few people I do make contact with.
- Not making contact to excuse my absences.
There are other things that I have probably missed, but these are the biggest indicators that spring to mind that aren’t necessarily the most obvious to begin with. At some point I may well go into more detail about my thoughts on why I think these things happen, but right now I don’t want to distract from the purpose of what I’m saying.
Today I’m making a promise to myself that if I even start to see one of these signs re-emerging I’m going to reach out to somebody, and while I don’t expect to never end up in crisis ever again just by trying to keep track of these things (often crisis can be sudden), I’m sure hoping that it might make it a lot less likely.
If you are in a similar position as me, I invite you to join me and make your own list, and if you ever feel yourself slipping downhill at all please seek some kind of support even if you don’t feel like it’s a full blown problem yet, because it can become too late very, very quickly, and you are never “not sick enough” to ask for help.
The other day I sat in the office with my support worker discussing the way that my life has been going for the last few months, the things that have affected the direction of my life so far and my plans for the future, and while we…
I would be lying if I said that I’m not seriously struggling right now, and if I said that the level of positivity conveyed through this blog was representative of my current feelings. Truthfully, positivity and motivation is like the sun peeking through the holes in…
So, maybe it’s important that I address the question fully. Why snowboarding? Obviously, I’ve already mentioned my desire to do it for a long time, and I’ve briefly gone into detail about needing to for the physical benefits on my about page, but it’s actually a lot more complicated than that.
I have a plethora of both physical and mental health conditions, some of which I have been struggling with for almost six years to date. PTSD with depression and anxiety, a dissociative disorder, digestive problems, and I’ve more or less destroyed my body through struggling with an eating disorder since I was 14. I faint constantly due to problems with my blood pressure and my heart, and I was told by the doctor that if I don’t start to build muscle and do some physical exercise to improve the situation, this might not get better.
In this last year alone, I’ve tried to commit suicide multiple times. I was admitted to a psychiatric day hospital for a month to be stabilised so that I could get back to at least functioning somewhat again and being able to attend university. Every day is still a struggle with flashbacks, chronic insomnia, suicidal ideation and either the desire to either starve myself until I no longer exist or the overwhelming impulse to binge and purge. When I have a particularly stressful period, I end up places with no recollection of how I got there and I forget chunks of time. I have to live my life on a schedule or else I don’t stand a chance of staying on top of things, and I am often too scared to leave the house or socialise unless I’m somewhat intoxicated.
At the end of the day, my trauma cannot be reversed and perhaps some of my conditions can’t, but I’m tired of being a violinist who isn’t physically fit enough to perform, I’m tired of being scared and I’m tired of living so stuck and alone and miserable. I am not what happened to me, and I can and will take as much control back over my own life as possible.
By taking up snowboarding and throwing myself into a fitness and diet regime to gain muscle rather than lose weight, I’m hoping that I will slowly but surely take control of my physical health again so that I’m able to continue at university, and also that this will encourage me to beat my eating disorder once and for all. I know that being seriously underweight would put me at a higher risk of injury – I have a friend who broke her ribs due to jumping into her boyfriend’s arms while severely underweight – and I know that not eating and letting myself develop nutritional deficiencies again would mean more fainting. I’m hoping that enjoyment and desire to become at least of a basic skill level will encourage me to continue to fight and improve not only my physical health but also my overall happiness, because God knows I simply can’t live like this anymore.