It’s a typical morning given my current circumstances. I am taking my morning walk. Something I have only started doing in the last few months. It’s a part of therapy to get me out of the house and to learn to manage my anxiety.
It’s winter and the air is cold against my face. The weather forecast had predicted sun. But with the heavy cloud cover, it is barely light.
I start to work up a bit of a sweat. My heartbeat is increasing. Usually, my brain often associates these two things with panic and causes my anxiety to spike. A panic attack is typically not too far behind.
This time I remember to control my breathing. Breathing in for 5 seconds and out for another 5. Concentrating on my core expanding and contracting. I stop the panic in its tracks.
Today I am walking further than I usually do. I am pushing myself more and accepting and allowing the anxiety rather than struggling with it.
It’s a concept that took me a while to come to terms with. It has only recently resonated with me and allowed me to continue making progress with my recovery.
As I am walking, putting one foot in front of the other, my mind is wandering. As per usual every so often it stumbles upon a place I would rather it not visit.
My mind is drawn in. I then ask myself “is this helpful?’“. Usually, the answer is “no” and rather than dwell any further I realise I haven’t been present.
This prompts me to put my focus elsewhere. What can I see? What can I smell? What can I hear? What can I feel? In doing so I start to become present.
And in these moments I notice something.
I can see the trees moving in the wind. I can see the birds flying in the sky. I can see a lake in the distance and the water moving with the wind. I can see houses, buildings and a church. I can see my warm breath rising up in front of my face. And I can see glimpses of the sun desperately trying to show itself through the thick dark cloud coverage.
I can only describe what I can smell as being fresh.
I can hear the wind moving past my ears and the rustling leaves from the trees. I can hear the birds chirping and the cars in the distance.
I can actually feel the cold air against my skin. I can feel the air moving through my mouth, down my windpipe and into my lungs. I can feel my lungs expanding and contracting. I can feel the ground beneath my feet and my clothes against my skin.
In these moments a smile breaks out across my face. I feel a warm sensation throughout my body. I haven’t felt this way in such a long time.
This is what it is to feel alive.
I feel alive again.