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SUP and anxiety struggles.

A true story.

As a young pup, pre-pubescence, a happy-go-lucky attitude is usually par for the course. Not always but usually. Running around – rather tearing about – without a care in the world. Just as it should be. Fast forward slightly to that time in life when hair starts sprouting from unusual places, anatomical morphing leads to unexpected sizing of muscular areas and mentally, hormonally everything changes into a whole new entity. At the same time those tiny chemical particles that inhabit your brain can also shift, in some cases being a little (to a lot) out of balance.

During teenage years our subject in question always knew there was something a little off, deep down. But as was the case back then, unlike now, no labels were available. Instead – at first subconsciously – that mildly odd feeling, which couldn’t quite be shook off, was termed: ‘doom feeling’. That suggests something bad might be impending but actually it was simply born of the musical and literacy interests of the subject.

Manifesting itself as only unease into twenty’s there wasn’t too much to be concerned by. Sunnier situations outweighing the dark were far more in abundance. Only every so often, as far as can be recalled, would the little black cloud move in to cast shadows. At this point it was often dismissed, our subject resorting to proven methods of blowing the clouds away. Most notably getting creative and using the ocean as a source of cleansing.

Unfortunately conditioning and onset of further aging can never really quell these feelings. Instead, alongside additional responsibility – a factor of life as we grow – the unease grows in tandem. At this point society began to recognise mental health challenges. Terms and descriptions have been doled out and it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about issues in public. Anxiety, which is what we’re referring to with this story, is a very real thing, as many will know.

To lesser or greater degrees this is what our subject deals with. Some days can be more severe than other periods. And there’s not really any trigger to put fingers upon. Life can be peachy; life can be hard; yet anxiety comes and goes with no discernible way of identifying the cause. What is true, however – certainly of this instance – is anxiety can often be seen trundling along mental health tracks in the distance, it’s final destination the subject’s mind.

Big life-changing events do nothing to help anyone with anxiety. In fact, these circumstances make it worse, exacerbating the experience. That once below the surface bubbling can emerge as something more. In this instance manifested as frustration and mild anger, especially when thinking about normally innocuous situations.

It’s long been communicated hobbies such as stand up paddle boarding – exercise in general – can help when dealing with anxiety – mental health problems in general. Buying in to the Zen-esque phrase: ‘leave all your problems ashore’ isn’t quite right as those problems still remain, even when you’re indulging in your chosen discipline. You never forget, even when out in the ocean. But paddling can serve as a release – sometimes. We say ‘sometimes’ as unfortunately SUP can make things worse. In the case of our subject, who searches for ‘conditions’, having studied at length weather info, swell data, wind patterns and tides and such. When the planets don’t align, which can be regularly, as let’s face it: Mother Nature isn’t exactly consistent, those frustrations mentioned above can be heightened.

Mental health is a discussion topic on many people’s lips currently. It’s certainly seen as less taboo than previous. How to deal with it personally, however, is very individualistic. Talking can help as well as knowing oneself intimately and recognising the signs. If others are aware they can also be on hand. And physical activity like stand up paddling, on the whole, is a release valve that can be put to good use mostly…

If you’re struggling talk to someone. Don’t suffer in silence.