I am sat in the sand writing this post on Elwood beach, Melbourne, Australia. It is only 9am but the early morning sun is already hot on my shoulders. It’s a Wednesday so the beach is almost empty bar a few dog walkers. The ocean really does something for my soul, it makes me so much calmer just by proximity. I have a take away coffee balanced precariously between my legs and a pen in hand as I decide what to write. I did not sit down here on the sand expecting to write anything, in fact I haven’t written very much at all this year, so getting out my notebook it has come as a bit of a shock. I can’t really pin point why I haven’t been writing but I guess I’ve just felt I had nothing to say. Sitting here now with my face tilted up to the sunshine and the sound of the waves as my muse, I suddenly have the urge again and it feels good.

If you’d asked me earlier this year if I would be in Australia now I would have laughed. In fact I probably wouldn’t have laughed because nothing felt very funny at all. I spent most of last year sat in the house. Literally. Sat. In. The. House. I was so afraid to go out, my anxiety had gotten so bad that the only way I could feel safe or calm was to STAY THE FUCK AT HOME. Maybe Borris had actually sunk in to my psyche a bit. I think sometimes when I say this to people they imagine I am exaggerating and I wish I was. There were a few months where I didn’t even feel up to a trip to Tesco five minuets from my home. Yes, that bad.

When the opportunity to come back to Australia came up a couple of months ago, it all seemed insurmountable. When I mentioned it to anyone it was all like “OH MY GOD, JEALOUS”. I would smile along and say all the right things about how exciting it all was then go home and cry. How on earth could I go to the other side of the world when I couldn’t even get to the bloody supermarket? Then I would cry some more because there was a part of me that did not want a lovely extended holiday to Australia and, well, that cant be good.

Any way this is not a post moaning about being in one of the most beautiful places in the world, far from it. The point I am trying to make is that I am here. I made it. I am sat here on this stunning, sprawling, deserted beach, sipping an oat latte and watching the breaking waves. I feel like I can breathe, really breathe for the first time in months. I am writing again for the first time in months. The fog that has hung heavy in my brain for so long is clearing, I can see the sky again and its like I am returning to myself, slowly but surely.

I can not believe I thought about not coming. I can not believe I almost allowed anxiety to take this moment, these moments away from me. Was the journey easy? No. Am I anxiety free now I am here? Of course not. I have felt anxious at some point most days. The feeling of being on the other side of the world is often overwhelming but was it worth it? Worth is does not begin to cover it. I love this city beyond words. It feels like home here and I am just so grateful for every single day we have. This trip has given me a new lease of life in many ways. It has reminded me that there is hope. That life does not have to be restricted because of my mental health. It has showed me that there are good times to be had and that I can have them again.

If, like me your world has felt very small the last couple of years, due to COVID or restrictions or your mental health. If you have found it difficult to make plans and stick to them, if you’ve avoided booking anything through fear or panic or uncertianty, this post is for you.

It doesn’t have to be a trip to the other side of the world of course, but if you have the opportunity to travel, or do something you love, go somewhere that makes your heart happy, don’t let fear stop you. The world is still out there (almost) just as we left it. If the last couple of years have taught us anything it is that life is so very short and that there will be so many difficult times both behind and ahead. So when you are presented with a chance to do something incredible, never let anxiety win, grab it with both hands and ask yourself….what is the worst that could happen? What is the alternative? Stay at home forever?

You are bigger and braver and so much more than your anxious thoughts. There are experiences and moments and relationships and freedom just beyond your safe space. It seems to me that the only option is to let that fear in, embrace it, brave it and live your life.

You got this. x

Lara x

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