“We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s all too easy to get stuck in a routine. Making the same choices each day and, ultimately, living the same life each year. This is a lesson that I have recently learnt; my experiences in life are, essentially, entirely in my control. I am the navigator of my own ship. Adventure is mine to choose. In light of this little lesson, I decided to expand my boundaries this summer by completing my first tandem skydive, in aid of MIND: The Mental Health Charity.
I’m sitting, squished amongst thirteen other people, aboard a Cessna Caravan turbine aircraft at approximately 13,000ft. In an incredibly surreal moment, the door of the plane is lifted and I watch as pairs of skydivers drop from the hatch out of sight and into freefall. My instructor and I scramble towards the door, and then, with my head back, knees bent and hands (tightly) gripping the harness, we roll forward into mid-air.
A brief sensation of disorientation and adrenaline rushes through me as we drop. Then, before I know it, we stabilise in freefall and I feel like I’m floating in the air; cushioned by the powerful up-thrust that forces my goggles tight across my eyes. Looking to the right, I see the plane I had exited, only moments ago, nose–diving through clouds back down to the runway. It is a breath-taking moment gazing over the patchwork fields, tiny houses and criss-cross roads towards the Suffolk coastline as we fall through the air.
The parachute is deployed and we begin the gentle descent back down to the landing field, gliding and arcing through the sky. Once back on solid ground I’m beaming and babbling stupidly with excitement: “That was amazing.”
Expanding your boundaries does not necessarily have to involve an adrenaline-fuelled sport such as skydiving; it can take many forms. The things that excite, challenge and make you nervous are the things that will bring you vitality, joy and personal growth.
However, it is not always possible to tackle life with such vigour. That is why I chose to raise money for MIND: The Mental Health Charity, through skydive sponsorship. MIND is dedicated to supporting people with mental health issues such as Depression, Addiction, Self-Harm and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The charity provides invaluable online resources, walk-in centres in 160 locations across the UK and an emergency Infoline for those in urgent need. Furthermore, the charity runs active campaigns to improve mental health awareness and care.
It is astonishing that one in four people are affected by a mental health problem in any year, yet individuals are often unable to access the right support and may be victims of mental health stigma which ridicules, isolates and endangers those in extremely vulnerable positions.
In a society that perpetuates low self-worth and values wealth over well-being, it is essential that charities such as MIND are supported so that those experiencing mental health problems can find help without shame or judgement. It needs to be more widely recognised that everyone has mental health, just like physical health, and that the affects of poor mental health are just as real as other “invisible” conditions such as Diabetes.
I was delighted to come close to my fundraising target of £400 for MIND, and hope that I can continue to inspire adventure and promote positive mental health. And you can be certain that I will be jumping out of another plane sometime soon!
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health problem – you are not alone and there is support. Talk to someone you trust or a professional whom you are comfortable with.
The Infoline number for the MIND charity and a link to the MIND charity website are listed below:
Infoline: 0300 123 3393
For alternative websites which may be of use in regards to learning more about mental health and gaining support when struggling with mental health issues, see below: