The dinner time conversation went better than I expected with Robyn. I convinced her that a temporary move to Bali Indonesia could be an adventure of a lifetime, and that the trip hopefully would help me to drastically change my fearful and negative beliefs that led to my anxiety disorder.
What did we have to lose?
I was going into my 6th year dealing with constant panic attacks and generalized anxiety, and I was running out of time (32 years old) to reach my lifelong dream of being a professional tennis player once and for all by getting that elusive ATP point. Robyn was working a dead end job she didn’t really enjoy, and I was sucking the life out of not only her but everyone around me as I played the anxiety victim constantly. My visit to the children’s hospital gave me a small glimmer of hope, a change, a new perspective and it showed me that there are people out there with deeper issues then my own… much deeper in fact. I just had to follow it up, and Bali soon became a reality.
I’ve always been an adventurer, loving the outdoors, new cultures, and making new friends and our arrival in Bali was nothing short of amazing. We were lucky enough to find a run down jeep to rent that cost us 23 dollars for each month. My first car during my high school days looked like a celebrity vehicle compared to this thing, and as we stalled over and over again on the windy roads of Bali as we made it into our rental home eventually.
Creatures Of The Night
The first night in our home we were woken up to two lizards scattering across our walls in our bedroom. I freaked out, Robyn freaked out, but our one year old was loving the view of those lizards. We noticed the gigantic holes in our kitchen walls where the lizards got in, and went on to spend the next few hours trying to chase these guys away. Eventually we succeeded, but it was interesting… no panic attacks, generalized anxiety, symptoms of anxiety or nothing even though the day was stressful for all of us. The stress of the events that took place like the drive home and the showdown with the lizards in our house, took the attention off of myself and poured it into my physical world. I realized that without an anxiety disorder the ideal way our brains can perform is to be without distraction, BUT to be able to prevent a panic attack or heightened levels of anxiety healthy distraction is our best friend. Blocking out panic and anxiety becomes easy when we become immersed in something that strongly holds our attention.
Flashbacks of Agoraphobia
As I was living the next few months in Bali I remembered my 31 day marathon where I locked myself in my house without any outside contact whatsoever. I didn’t nudge one bit, I was comfortable, and I wouldn’t dare step out into a world full of… people. Those times were starting to look like it was in another lifetime. Anxiety doesn’t exist in Bali, even though families sometimes can only afford a scooter that fits 6 family members without helmets (true story), or live solely off of one or two outfits they own. Again, the feeling of guilt would follow me as I learned more about the Balinese culture. Bali taught us the word gratitude and how to apply it into our lives.
Most importantly once I found out what brought on feelings such as gratitude and curiosity, I could easily turn my focus toward that direction rather then the direction that caused me to experience sensations of anxiety. I’m not here to tell you you must move somewhere in order to overcome your anxiety disorder, but I am telling you that healthy distraction and a new perspective could turn your whole world around.