Into the wild…ish.
What does it really mean?
It’s the concept of heading out into the wild without wandering TOO far from society. It’s leaping out of your comfort zone, but staying within arms reach (just in case). It’s exploring the world while respecting the boundaries of your own mental and physical limitations. In my case, it’s slowly and gradually building up to some of the more intense solo-travels I’d like to check off my bucket list (Afghanistan, various bits of Africa, Central/South America).
Solo-travel is a somewhat daunting thought to most completely sane and happy people I know. It takes planning and research and COURAGE to fly off to a new destination on ones own. Factor in a good dose of social anxiety and the occasional gloomy black cloud of depression hovering overhead and it becomes that much more complex. The most fearful part of solo-travel for me is being alone with…(dun dun dun) MY OWN MIND. I can hostel with the best of em’ (I mean, who doesn’t love a night out in a foreign city with a bunch of Australian mates willing to share their cheap booze with the hopes of getting some action in exchange?!) but with all solo-travel there will be moments of complete isolation. Long bus rides, hungover mornings, strolls through the city. You can’t escape them. At some point, your mind is bound to start acting up, getting louder and louder until all thoughts of an afternoon sightseeing tour go flying out the window and you surrender to the inner demons. It’s rotten. But it’s reality.
So for now, I accept my limits. I push myself, but not past my breaking point.
Hence – IRELAND.
In September, for the third time in my life, I am moving to a new continent. A 2 year working holiday visa for the UK with hopes and dreams of staying longer to (at the ripe ol’ age of 25) get my undergrad. It’s a big change and while I’m full of excitement, I have no friends, not many contacts, no job, and no where to live. My anxiety had an absolute fucking field day with this decision.
So I decided that I needed a palette cleanser before I settled back in to adult life.
The wild is my happy place. Preferably on the coast, sea-breeze whipping through my unruly mass of hair, but I’ll take anything that’s not a city. The Ireland Way seemed like the perfect choice – at 900km, it’s long enough to be a challenge, but not so long as to invoke anxiety at the mere thought. English is spoken (if in an accent I can barely comprehend), and the trail is only wildish. Meaning – far enough from civilization that one can enjoy the scenery and get lost in ones daydreams, but close enough that in case of emergency cell reception is never too far away.
So in 2 weeks I’m venturing out into the Irish wild with my tent and tentative grasp on my sanity. And I’m not just doing to for the fun of it – it’s almost as if I want to prove a point: I will no longer allow my (admittedly sub-par) mental health to hold me back from seeing the world. It shouldn’t hold anyone back (from anything). Your mental illness DOES NOT DEFINE YOU. You are a human being with goals and dreams and an entire world to see – don’t let the voices in your head convince you of your incapability. If you’re struggling with your mental health, and have dreams that you feel are being shoved to the side, here’s what you need to do:
- Reach out and DEMAND to receive the help you require.
- Find a medication/therapy regimen that works for you (and remember – what works for one may not work for another) and STICK TO IT.
- Get your mind to a healthy place.
- Shoot for the motherfucking stars!
- Continue to pay close attention to your mental health. If you need to take a breather and retreat to your comfort zone (mine is my blanket burrito, no judgement here), there is absolutely no shame in putting a pin in your plans. Move at your own pace, but never stop moving forwards.
All my life, I’ve had very specific dreams. I wanted to a be a foreign correspondent, a writer, I wanted to travel to third-world-countries documenting what I see, meeting the people and sharing their stories with the world. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to be a strong woman, someone others can look up to and draw motivation from. I wanted to INSPIRE someone. The other day someone messaged me and (amongst other ridiculously flattering things) (I can’t take a compliment to save my life) informed me that I, Maysen Forbes, was an INSPIRATION to them. I read the message 3 times over, went into my bathroom, turned the shower on and had a good cry to the tune of ‘Save Myself’ (thank you Ed Sheeran for an incredible song to cry to).
Maybe this is it! (I thought to myself as I wiped an endless stream of snot from my face), maybe this is my time to inspire people. Maybe my small voice, tentatively telling the story of my various struggles with mental illness, self harm, and sexual assault can inspire/motivate someone to share their own story. Maybe I can make a difference in someone’s life. Maybe I can be to others, what a series of strangers (and surprisingly decent therapists) were to me.
2 months. Just me, my tent, and my dodgy mind. Writing as I go, fundraising for a charity that does it’s very best to ensure that when you DO reach out for help, you’ll have someone to turn to. Without charities such as Mental Health Ireland, seeking help would be a much more daunting task.
I can’t wait to see what the Irish wild(ish) has in store for me.
ps: If you live in Ireland and would like to join me for bits of my hike, or collaborate on a post about mental health in Ireland – please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To gain some more Irish support would be incredibly brilliant.