It has almost been six months since I went up to the mountains and experienced a dramatic shift in my reality, an epiphany that changed me, that altered the course of my life drastically.
These few months have felt like a lifetime for me. A lifetime filled with the best moments so far in my life. Moments that have broken me down and uplifted me. I have met and interacted with people that have been teachers, friends and motivators. I have found wells inside myself – pure ecstasy, exhaustion, strength, willpower, determination, happiness and groundedness.
It may not have been a perfectly smooth road up to this point, but it has been by far the easiest road I have ever travelled. Even in the dark moments, of which there were a few, though I might not have been able to see the road I knew it was there beneath my feet. That at crossroads the way to choose was always clear. I finally know the destination. I know where I see myself in thirty years, I know how I can make my future a reality today.
So many times in my marriage I felt trapped. That I would never be able to open my wings, stretch them out and just fly. I felt like a wild animal caged, pacing from one corner of the metal bars to the other.
The mountain man asks on his hikes whether it is the bars that keep the tiger in its cage or the space between the bars.
It is the tigers perception that keeps it in its cage.
It doesn’t matter what there is in the physical world, there is nothing that can take any mans freedom from him except what he thinks can.
Before I left for the mountains in February, money had me in a vice. I constantly struggled with thoughts of bills and petrol and food and debt that it crippled me. That I woke up on a Monday morning and I didn’t want to get up. I had a book keeping exam that I couldn’t bring myself to go to. I wanted to opt out of life the only way I knew how to. I marched myself to my GP and I told him I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I couldn’t deal with the constant worry, the nagging fear that I wouldn’t make the end of the month, that the financial institutions were going to start calling me. That I wouldn’t have money to put food on the table. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have thoughts of suicide because I did. I would never have acted on them. But I still had those thoughts.
I spent a week in my bed, taking tranquilizers and anti depressants “trying” to cope with the world. Looking back I realized that I had given up on dealing with the world. That I was trying to numb myself and coast.
My feelings about anti depressants and tranquilizers hasn’t changed in fifteen years. That other than physical psychological disorders relating to hormone imbalances and similar, where medication is needed to regulate these imbalances, Tranqs and ADP’s are far too easily dished out to the masses. That doctors have no interest in giving or referring sound psychological advice before they start pumping you with medication.
Doctors that are not certified in psychology are able to feed us mind numbing substances after a five minute chat about how life is too tough and we are acting out in adverse ways and how we cannot cope anymore. The shitty thing is they might as well be handing you a needle full of heroin. As far as is my experience tranqs and ADP’s are addictive, physically, mentally, emotionally. Does it matter. If you do not have a hormonal imbalance what will these substances do?
I am no doctor but any well meaning health care practitioner should have the health and welfare of his patient in mind. Perhaps short term medication can be an answer…but what is the long term answer. Is it in a persons best interests to be dependant on anti anxiety medication their entire lives?
Nevermind the side affects of what these medications have which can be anything from lowered libido to paradoxical side effects such as hallucinations and hostility. How are any of these supposed to help ones “depression”?
My experience with these medications, what I was after, was that you take them long enough and you eventually don’t give a damn. You become apathetic. Who cares about the bills, who cares about work, who cares about the person you are dating or your kid or your wife or your studies. You may do what needs to be done but with little emotional output.
That is what I wanted when I walked into that doctors office six months ago. I didn’t want to feel, I didn’t want to care. I just wanted to coast.
And then I went up that mountain. I didn’t take any medication with me, I wanted to feel the Drakensberg inside out. I wanted to find answers. I wanted to find clarity.
There were many moments that weekend that I did. Sitting amongst the clouds on top of Dragons Peak feeling the cool air against my skin, looking at the lush green valley below me. A thousand metre drop that stole my breath away. The icy waters that revitalised me from the inside out….that water was cold. Trying to make my way to use the “toilet” in the darkness, stubbing all of my toes in the process. Lying underneath the stars, man, I would’ve stayed in that spot, rooted to the ground, I would have died right there and I knew that if I had my body would’ve turned to ashes and the wind would have swept me away.
Six months ago I found something I would willingly die for. Something I would give my life to. That I would sell my soul for. Something that stripped me bare. Tore away all the fears of not having or not being able to. That the financial institutions could right my name on a piece of paper somewhere…it wouldn’t be an accurate portrayal of me. That work is not a be all and end all. That the shelter above your head means fuck all and that the labels you wear and the cars you drive and even the work you put into your body to look good means nothing.
It took even longer for me to realize that I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone. That if I had to do so that those anyones weren’t worth it in my life. That the people you may count as friends may not see and treat you in the same way and that sometime you may have to cut your losses. That those that need to step over others to get ahead are weak. That sometimes all you will be in someone elses eyes is a conquest, something to talk about over a few drinks.
All I want to be is the best that I can be. A mother one day, a mountain guide another. An awesome friend and family member. My promise to myself is that I put 100% into everything that I do. My work and my relationships and my life.
I am no longer going to settle for number two. I am no longer going to be the last resort.
I am free, but I am not for free, and I will never be treated as such again.
From this day…I’m only accepting 100% of everything and everyone.
In return…it is 100% of me…including those extra kilograms I’ve picked up along the way.