For a while now, my life has been a bucketful of uncertainties. I jacked in one job without another to go to, and gave up the place I lived, uncertain of when I’d next be earning enough to pay for rent. Homeless and jobless, I was liberated of many of the stresses in my life, but new ones immediately popped up to replaced them.
What if the new job fell through? Whose sofa would I be staying on next? Where would I store all of my belongings while I didn’t have a permanent address? These were some of the bigger concerns, but I worried about the smaller ones almost as much.
I recognise the signs straightaway; my go-to stress symptoms of chewing my cheeks and tugging on my hair show up. My eating habits go haywire, using junk food and wine as a comfort blanket. I spend hours checking Facebook, my e-mail, and Facebook again. I go shopping without looking at my credit card bill; buying in a zombie-like trance. Even my thought processes revert to the pessimistic approach that comes more naturally to me.
Having done a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), I’m pretty good at noticing the symptoms and, theoretically, I know what I should do to deal with them. On the phone to my Mum, she tells me to look over my file and use the tools I learned in CBT. The trouble is, I’m a procrastinator when it comes to actually helping myself. Far easier to cheer myself up with a piece of lemon drizzle cake than to sit down with a file of notes and self-psychoanalyse.
In all seriousness, though, there are specific tools that help. One of these is exercise. So on Wednesday I signed myself up for a refresher session at the climbing wall. At university I used to climb regularly, but have only done it sporadically since. Getting back to it was exhilarating. I’d forgotten the buzz you get from trying and failing (Again. And again.) until you succeed. The only competitive element you need engage in is with yourself; nobody cares whether you’re better or worse than them. It’s all about pushing yourself. If you’ve pushed your own limits, that’s a win. After just forty five minutes my arms were dead. I’d get halfway up the wall and have to jump off; I just couldn’t physically go any further. But then I’d take a breather, re-chalk my hands, and try again. And the next time, or the time after that, I’d do it.
I love watching the more experienced climbers. Their strength and skill is mesmerising. I was in total awe. I plan to keep going regularly now, and can’t wait to see some real improvements in my own strength and technique, week-by-week.
This morning I was feeling really down. I was worried about where I’d live, whether I’d be any good at my new job. I was feeling homesick (for any home, not a specific one). By this afternoon I’d perked up. I could see the massive changes in my life, and felt excited. I could visualise my new life, and it looked good. Tomorrow is my first day in the new job, and it looks as though I’ve found somewhere to move to and call “home”. Once those two worries have cleared I’m sure I’ll find yet more anxieties to stress over. Until then, though, I’m enjoying the moment, the exciting changes and, yes, the aching arms. Bring. It. On.