All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


Challenge yourself. You might be surprised!

My normal, boring, monotonous routine was well and truly shaken up today, and my anxiety, which is already super-high, was well and truly challenged as a result.

After waking from a fitful sleep my morning began like any other; talk radio, internet and smoking. Rather than endlessly scour the news websites as I usually do, I decided to be a little more productive by writing a blog post. It wasn’t a great blog post, but was one I’d been considering writing for a week, and although it was tough to get my brain into gear, it felt good to be writing instead of mindlessly reading entertainment articles.

The reason it was hard to get my brain into gear was because I was contemplating this afternoon’s activity. Normally I would walk down the road, grocery shop, return home, watch a movie then listen to talk radio whilst surfing the internet. It’s my safety net. My normal, boring, monotonous routine. But today was different. Today I had an appointment.

A few months ago my support worker submitted an application for a program operated by a local gym. Named Open Doors, it provides gym membership for people who are experiencing hardship and/or mental health issues. It’s designed to get people active. It’s designed to get them moving. A few weeks ago my application was approved and I was granted a 3-month membership to their facility. In addition to full use of the gym, I also have access to the swimming pool, spa and whatever group classes I wish to participate in. And if I attend the gym 20 times over the next three months, I may be granted an additional 3-month membership. An incentive, of sorts, to maintain a healthy regime. Part of the program is an appointment with a personal trainer, who analyses your current exercise regime and suggests a work-out that would suit your particular needs. And today I had that appointment.

I’d known about the appointment for two weeks, and my anxiety has been extremely high as a result. I hate gyms at the best of times. All those gym bunnies with perfect pert bodies trigger my body image issues and, as a result, heighten my anxiety. I feel rotten in a gym. I feel inadequate. I feel worthless. I become obsessed with my appearance and despise pretty much everything about myself as a result. It would have been easy to cancel the appointment. To not show up. To just let the 3-month membership slowly expire. But I was determined to go because I’m determined to shake up my routine. I’m determined to increase my activity in an effort to make myself feel fitter and lose some of the weight Olanzapine has put on. So I strapped on my running shoes and walked the five kilometers to the leisure center where I waited patiently for my appointment.

It was – of course – with a woman. For those who missed it, I admitted earlier today that women scare me more than anything else. Especially uber-fit, toned and beautiful women. Which of course, being a fitness instructor, this woman was. But she was also nice. Which made me question not only my fear of women but also my anxiety surrounding the appointment. We started with a Q&A session about my current exercise routine before she took my blood pressure, questioned me on my medical background and worked out both my weight and height. I never weigh myself. My body image issues can’t handle it. So I was freaking out about getting on the scales. Freaking out about finding just how much weight I’ve put on. The last time I weighed myself was some two years ago at the GP, before Olanzapine piled on the pounds and turned me into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Back then, I was 100kg. Today, I expected to be at least 110kg, if not 120kg. Fortunately, and to my surprise, I was still 100kg. Which just goes to show that you can’t always trust your mind!

After the initial part of the appointment was over, she took me into the gym for a quick tour, before advising me on the best regime for my beginner status. I’m to start with 5mins on the treadmill, followed by squats, followed by planks, followed by sessions on several different weight machines. To finish, a simple five-minute cool down on the exercise bike. But I can always swap the bike and treadmill around, if I felt like it. It’s a pretty simple routine, and one I should be able to manage, as long as I can stomach hiking the 10km round trip to the leisure center three times a week; which is my work-out goal.

After being shown the routine she left me to my own devices and, as I was there, performed my first tour of the treadmill-weights-bike that is to be my routine over the coming weeks. It’s been some eighteen months since I was last in the gym and I’m sure I will feel it tomorrow, but it felt good to be being active again. It felt good to be strolling along the treadmill, it felt good to be performing my first ever plank and it felt good to be lifting weights and feeling the burn in my stomach and abs.

Whether or not I will stick to my Monday-Wednesday-Friday workout goal is yet to be seen. The only thing that will stop me will be anxiety and/or the walk to the leisure center. But I’m adamant I want the 3-month extension to the program, and to do that, I need to visit at least twenty times over the next three months. My current monotonous life shows how easily it is for me to exist within a routine, so all I need to do is challenge my anxiety, my body image issues, and alter my current routine into something different. It shouldn’t be too difficult – surely! And who knows, perhaps it will result in me meeting a gym bunny with a perfect pert body. A gym bunny who finds me undeniably sexy and can’t resist throwing herself upon me at any given opportunity…what? I’m not allowed to dream? ;)

By the time I walked home I was feeling quite proud of myself. Not only had I successfully altered my normal, boring, monotonous routine, I had successfully challenged my anxiety and prevented a panic attack. Not bad for one days work! It proves that no matter how hard something is, how scared you are of doing something, it is possible to get through it with little to no harm on your person. Challenge yourself. You might be surprised!