“Why?” That’s the first question people ask me when I tell them about my challenge. “Why would you want to do all these challenges?” And then they ask “why would you do them all in one year?” They have a point.
Time has been split by BC and AD.
BC or Before Challenges. A chapter of my life had reached its conclusion, my job was causing low self esteem and I turned 40 (let’s not talk about 40). I don’t know which one was worst or which one caused me to feel like everything was spiralling out of control. Perhaps it was a combination of all three that did it but I couldn’t stop crying. I was angry at those closest to me and I questioned whether it was better if I wasn’t around. I thought about my daughter and how I couldn’t leave her motherless and this triggered me to seek help. Senior managers, although supportive, suggested antidepressants and their diagnosis of depression. My doctor disagreed and encouraged me to change my job. Still this morose feeling and anxiety settled around me sucking the colour out of life until a friend suggested that I set myself a challenge. He pointed me in the direction of Wales Online and their bucketlist “100 Things To Do In Wales Before You Die” and left me to mull it over.
There were some easy challenges on the list and some peculiar ones. Some I had done before and some I’d never heard of. For example, did you know that Wales hosts the World Bogsnorkelling Championship or that you can watch dolphins on the Pembrokeshire coast? I wasn’t dying but I’d thought about dying so maybe this was right up my street. What did I have to lose? I set myself the target of completing all 100 in one year – if I allowed any longer I wouldn’t do it – and I’d document it on Instagram to evidence each activity. Despite feeling ‘down’, and knowing that the coming months would be difficult, I would be able to look back and see my accomplishments. I didn’t expect to get anything out of it other than to have some control over something.
AD or After Depression. Its July and I’m halfway through the year with 40 of the challenges completed. Every weekend has been busy, filled with activities across Wales and nights camping under the stars. I have found fossils on the coastline, got claustrophobic underground at Big Pit, grown a fondness for Welsh Whisky, seen puffins up close on Skomer Island and climbed Wales’ three highest mountains all on one day for Ty Hafan, a local Welsh charity. I have grown a love for this county – MY country – and the beauty I have previously failed to notice. I have realised that I am not a failure and am capable of doing things that most people would be too scared to attempt. Not only that I have built relationships with family and friends who have accompanied and supported me on this journey. Strangers from the other side of the world have watched my stories and have donated to the charity. People I’ve never met have volunteered their time to complete these challenges with me and I now call them my friends. It has made me happy. It is as simple as that.
Research indicates that exercise and getting outside can help reverse the symptoms of depression. I can vouch for that. As I sit outside my tent watching the sunset over the Preseli Hills, whilst sipping my glass of whisky of course, my answer to their question of “Why?” can only be “Why not?”