Blog 6, day 69

So it definitely is harder to keep this blog updated whilst doing Instagram and Facebook, so I think the next blog might not be till the end as a recap/write-up with a lot of the other photos, memories, and feelings throughout the winter.

 

So for all the daily updates and most appropriate photos/videos to sum up the day the Instagram feed is public: https://www.instagram.com/bigmtnskierx/ and click the hashtag #simons3monthchallenge (and sort by recent to see the journey in order from day 1 😊)

 

Arohanui, Simon

Blog 5, Day 50

I’ve decided without a computer that writing these blogs is difficult, especially when most of what I say is mentioned in my daily social media posts.

The best way to view the posts anonymously (if for some reason you aren’t on social media) is via instagram.com/bigmtnskier (and then you can look back through all the pics and the associated story for the day).

However I shall write one today about me and my health, and where I’m at.

I still have my ups and downs, and I have ways of managing them through various techniques, exercises, and brain training (but importantly this does still involve medication).

Common thinking occurrences on the ‘down’ side of things is not having stability, not feeling successful, not having a partner, and lack of motivation. I guess thoughts of not being a ‘Society Norm’.

I have found ways of re-training my thoughts around most of these as they present themselves, but some are more difficult than others. And it’s the days where you wake up in the wrong state of mind that it’s the hardest to shake them.

Today is a bit like that. The uneventful reflection days, that can easily lead towards the depressed days. Today it is snowing moderately, and I’m very in touch with keeping track of the weather so knew it was coming. When I woke it wasn’t snowing yet, so almost decided to go and do something fun for the day. But given that it was due to be ‘day snow’ (typically wetter and heavier in Australia) I opted to look after the tent and chill for the day.

When you have time on your hands doing ‘nothing’ (which also includes reading or listening to music etc) your brain starts doing ‘everything’. You can end up thinking about everything, negative things from the past, shit going on in the present, and fears or anxiety about the future.

There are physical things that your body has to do during the day (such as go outside to go to the toilet and eat etc) and things that you need to do to go about life if you want to live happily (like bang snow off your tent). If you don’t do these necessary tasks (whatever they are in life), life can get difficult/miserable. I wouldn’t want to be sleeping next to a pile of poo in my tent just because I didn’t want to get up and go outside now would I?

The mental side of the day becomes amplified. It makes you feel paralysed. Things you know you could do (in particular physical activities or mentally distracting tasks), but aren’t necessary (yet), get overcome by your thoughts about life.

And before I get everyone messaging or calling to ask if I’m ok, I am ok. I communicate privately with those I choose to, for a chat, or for help, when needed. And I talk to people that I feel would best understand my situation at the time. But yes it’s almost dinner time and I’m still in the tent.

I also have become heightened in being aware of any thoughts getting me down, and being able to accept them, and whether they are past present or future I can usually find a way to let those thoughts just be.

On the flipside of all that there are days where even negative things become funny.

Those are the good days. The days when everything feels perfect for whatever activity or task you want to do for the day. You feel motivated, and you get up and you do shit, enjoyable shit all day long.

The other day was the first day in a long time it was proper bluebird. No gale force wind, no snow falling but plenty on the ground, and the sun shining brightly from the moment it rose.  My start to that day involved me waking up, being uncertain as to what would face me outside the door, being greeted by a bluebird day, then getting up to go to the toilet.  The snow had drifted in the lower half of the 2 part door on the nearby toilet, and I didn’t have my shovel on hand. I climbed in through the top half, and then after I went to get out I realised I was locked in.  I laughed.  I laughed really hard because I thought it was just a quirky little life test for my happy day ahead.  Instead of getting angry and trying to kick the door down I looked for a better solution.  I took one of my snow gaiter’s off, and using the string that goes under the foot I managed to hook the latch on the outside of the door and get out.

That is one of those days where nothing can get you down, and everything that could even remotely be negative becomes a fun challenge to the day.

It hasn’t been all bluebird days or perfect wind, but then there also hasn’t been anywhere near as many negative or sad days.

I have had a mixture of all sorts of days up here, there is still day to day life to deal with.

The biggest difference is that there is a reduced amount of responsibility.  When my world felt hectic a lot of the built up stress got released being here.  Sure I still get stressed, and I have personal day-to-day responsibilities and a life even I leave, but it’s all manageable and doesn’t hit me like it used to. I have needed this break from ‘normal’ life to reassess my own life.  I don’t feel overloaded and I’m learning who I am, how to appreciate and love myself the way others can towards me, and I’m learning how to ‘be me’. Altogether it’s helping me cope with my mental health.

There are times now where I’m getting anxious. I’m over the halfway mark, and although I have started piecing together in my head what I might do when I leave here to start a better life, I have no idea of how to make a lot of the ideas work or if those parts/change will actually impact me positively enough.  I have had a lot of suggestions on where to go and what to do, but I keep getting anxious thinking too far ahead or feeling pressured.

I have also learned to be open to opportunity and let opportunities happen. This has helped reduced my anxiety a lot.  I get so worked up on trying to be successful or in control I miss out on a lot of opportunities.  Even some equipment failures out here, instead of doing it my way I have been open to other people’s input, and been given opportunity.  Each time I’ve taken an opportunity it’s put me on a different path to what I expected, but almost always has turned out better than I expected.

At the end of the 3 month period I probably won’t know exactly what to do with my life, but I’m starting to think of the right questions to ask that spark opportunity and start putting a plan into action as to where to start.  I’m not thinking to hard about that stuff at the moment, but instead I’m setting myself achievable mini goals up here, and not getting disappointed if the goal becomes to difficult or dangerous.

I am currently camped near the Pretty Valley Hut, only a 7km ski tour to civilisation, and I am ok both mentally and with my equipment and provisions.

I am safe, learning to appreciate life and the good things about me, acknowledging and expressing my feelings more, and I’m becoming a better person in my eyes.  I’m becoming more accepting of other people, and who they are and the way they choose to choose to express themselves. For now all I’m trying to focus on is me.  Being me, and being me in an environment I can be me.

Oh and don’t worry, anyone following me on social media will start to get bombarded with a lot of questions about direction after here soon. 😉

So remember, even if you think this is my only form of ‘blog’ and don’t have any social media visit instagram.com/bigmtnskier to keep up with the daily story.

Arohanui,
Me, ooops ahem I mean
Simon ❤

Blog 4, day 30

So tomorrow is the first calendar month since I started my journey. I started this journey on the 23rd of June, and have already learned a lot about myself, my patterns, and a lot of my triggers that lead to sudden changes in emotion.

A lot has happened since my last blog, I have met and changed people’s outlook on life telling them about my struggles, I have spent time with people that changed my perspective on life in different ways, and learned more things that are in my control and what is out of my control. I have experienced some very difficult times (in particular extended isolation and realising that some things you want to happen that are very difficult to make happen), along with positive times with company and accomplishing personal goals.

After so many problems trying to use the kite to move my gear around, I have accepted the fact to stop being stubborn trying to move everything in one go, and accept the fact that continually trying failed shortcuts is best be learnt from and altered.
Retraining the stubborn part of my brain to do things things in a more rational way and stop acting impulsively on emotion will lead to positive improvements in life (an example of this is a small instance of doing the extra slog and only ski-touring the gear in 2 loads at a time instead of getting caught up on rushing to do it all at once with a kite as planned initially). This journey is definitely a plan with no set plan now.

As I write this blog post I am about to repack some gear and return to my Red-Sled (the kayak), which I left by the Pretty Valley Hut.

Once there it will then be time to set the tent back up, and I intend to base myself in that area for the next month (hopefully in a spot near the hut with cellphone reception this time!)

My recent trip to Hotham to spend time with friends and enjoy activities with like minded people was amazing, a really fun weekend and good to get a break and feel a part of civilisation for a change.
This also has a downside, as I have some really close people that I’m going to miss being around again. I’m reluctant to start to ski-tour back, but know that it will be beneficial to continue in life.

It reinforces how important having key people in life is, and how much it can ground me and make me feel good to be around good people.
It also reinforced that certain memories are best left in the past, but also to learn from any mistakes and to cherish and hold on to the good times.

It’s great to have friends that will go above and beyond to help out when needed, and to be able to help them. Friendship isn’t just about hanging out together for me, it helps creates a stability for my mental health, and even when times are shit there is usually a silver lining, and a reason things happen in life.
I’m slowly starting to piece the parts of my personal puzzle together and find who I am, how to express myself, and how to avoid any downward spirals or excessive negative emotion.

These blogs and my daily picture/video social media posts have become a way of communicating my hidden thoughts and feelings with people who choose to follow me, and also leave myself a trail of memories of self development in a way that is seeming to work better for myself instead of writing in a diary.

That’s it for now, and I better make a start on the physically demanding ski-tour to my temporary ‘home’ (the 4 day break has left me physically wrecked from pushing hard lift-skiing and freestyle snow-kiting).

Thank you again to all those supporting me, and seeing as I have now started listening to music whilst moving around I will also be able to start contacting people individually by phone now, and be more productive with my time here seeing as everything takes so much longer without the luxuries of modern life.

Arohanui,
Simon

Blog 3, day 17

Looks like the blogs are going to be each time I recharge power, so every 8-10 days for 6hrs ill have a chance to put my focus into writing.

So today I write my blog from the Falls Creek village (and this one is purely about my mental health, not what other stuff I have been doing during the previous days).

Looking around the village I see so many people with ‘unnecessary’ possessions, and wonder how many of them need money or other things to be happy and feel good, and how many are caught in the rat race. I’m not judging, just observing what I see.

And then amongst my people watching I’m curious what this ‘wanting and having’ is covering up in peoples lives, and how many people have pushed things under the rug that don’t know how to speak out and talk openly to someone. Mental health, along with a lot of other types of bumps in the road at some stage of people’s lives, are very common and should be looked at differently by society. No-one is alone, someone else has been, or is going through, similar things to someone else.

Im noticing that every choice I have made since realising I had mental health issues has helped me get to where I am now and what is ‘needed’ and ‘real’.

I have had my tonsils removed because I found out I had sleep apnea and wasn’t getting proper sleep.
I stopped drinking alcohol after realising it was hiding/covering many issues and bringing out a false personality that got me into trouble both with girls and with my adventurous lifestyle (most friends have met ‘Bruno’).
I went vegan for many reasons, which has helped cleanse my body and do my small part for the environment.
I reached out and asked for help from professionals when my mental health rapidly declined.
I found out how much I would be missed in this world if I did end my life, and how many people actually care.
It’s hard to see that last one when blinded by everything else but a dark hole with no light, and im glad I pulled through and appreciate more and more each day where I am now.

The toughest one for me now is actually sugar and junk food. It’s highly addictive, in particular acidic sweets and drinks. Having some pure maple syrup with porridge in the morning and stevia tabs with black coffee or tea is nothing like what I would normally have, and feels a lot healthier.

I feel like in a way this is what it probably feels like for a long term smoker to give up cold turkey.
I tested myself with coca cola and redbull whilst here in the village and the feeling of junk is getting a little weird and taboo. My body is realising I don’t need it, and it does affect the brain. But a part of me still enjoys it, so I have a long way to go on that front and be more strict on moderation (another hurdle in my life, impulsivity and over indulging).

Everything else has been easy to give up straight away – cold turkey, except sugar (which I kept telling people is my last ‘vice’).

My body and mind is also becoming capable of things I didn’t think were possible being out here, and walls I thought couldn’t be pushed through I am starting to smash down.

One of the best things is talking to real people who understand, or talking to people openly with a common passion. Once you open up, people talk back with their experiences. It builds trust and let’s you know who good people are, and who ‘fake’ people are (people that aren’t being there true self). And these people that you trust and talk with shouldn’t be ‘carers’ or ‘helpers’, but positive people you can share positive energy with.

Having phone calls or messaging is great, but having people in person to talk to brings out so much more (at least I find that personally, I’m not saying that resonates with everyone).

And having people to talk to close by that are real people (ie even a 2-3hr ski-tour in the dark to see a select few nearby), is highly beneficial to ones health too. A ‘companion’, ‘amazing friend’, ‘partner’, ‘family’, ‘close colleague’, ‘cherished common acquaintance’ – basically people that matter in your life, that you can be completely honest and trusting with.

This is also just as important as being able to have your time (whether your own time involves mindfulness, meditation, being in a flow state, exercise, peace and quiet away from light and noise pollution, personal stability, spending time loving yourself, or whatever other ‘your time’ works for you).

Im still taking mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety medication, and have no intention to stop taking those from fear of previous bad withdrawals from medicinal changes or disruptions in the past. It would not be a good environment to do so out here, best to wait until talked to in person with a professional to alter anything like that. So medication is still a large part of helping me stay in control, but trying hard enough I can control my body more, to be more resilient to negative effects in body/life/brain etc.

I really hope people can somewhat relate to, or understand all this, despite ‘society-norms’, fear, or stigma.

I’m also trying to avoid being preachy in these blogs, but I’m finally emerging from a shell and actually communicating (still only selectively to close people, but somewhat in a very open way to all).

I’ll put up a wee Instagram post soon, with a link to this blog update, and write another blog next time I recharge.

And all the usual links are on this page to continue to support this journey and my return to civilisation at the end of winter.

Once I am settled and stable again I would like find ways to allow others to find help if they need it. I just need to remind myself from time to time that I am the most important person in life, just as everyone else should be too. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop caring about others, but you need to put yourself first.

And the goals set at particular dollar targets haven’t been forgotten, just waiting for the right time to safely do each.

Arohanui,
Simon

Update 2, Day 9

Update number 2 since I’ve been out here. I’m slack, yes I know, but I am keeping up with Instagram and Facebook (and learning a lot more about both. Anyway, its day number 9 today).

There might be a lot of things I have mentioned already on social media, but hey, this is a blog update.

When Baz and I turned up to windy corner carpark at Falls Creek and started sorting out our ‘sleds’ everyone was very intrigued, especially when I told them my story and that I am spending 3 months in the VIC Alpine Area camping near huts to raise awareness of mental health. I spoke to the local ski patrol and head of SES, exchanged numbers, and spoke of my rough plan. They wished me luck and Baz and I started carting approx 150+ kg of stuff for 11km with a vertical gain of 200m. We arrived at dark and slept in the hut absolutely exhausted.

Upon arrival there was 6 days straight of bluebird weather, but with a punchy melt freeze crust it meant the snow wasn’t that enjoyable and the wind was a bit light till day 4. Then on the day Baz was leaving (day 4) we got some good wind finally. Baz was stoked and I was stoked for him to not have to tour his sled and kite it instead 😊.

Edmondsons hut is rather chilly and full of hungry mice and rats, so all it is good for is having breakfast and dinner, and hanging stuff out of the cold. Other than that it’s warmer to do activities during the day, have dinner, and head into the tent. It’s surprising the sorts of dinners you can do with dehydrated food and raw food (see some of the pics below).

I have been doing all sorts of things to keep busy and warm on down days (such as collecting dry wood from trees and coming up with a system to dry off the ice, turning snow into clean water and storing it, building walls around the tent to keep it from being battered by wind, and snow kiting or ski touring when conditions are suitable). Everything that normally is basic takes a lot longer up here. however I seem to be getting a lot more efficient everyday.

I have also noticed that my body doesn’t crave sugar and junk food. I bought some Cola cordial with me, and dark choc to go with the trail mix, but I was over the Cola cordial very quickly and didn’t touch any of the choc until day 7. I have been enjoying maple syrup in my porridge and 2 sugar tablets in my morning coffee though 😋.

Surprisingly I thought I would go crazy being alone and being in silence a lot of the time, and prior to leaving Melbourne I got very stressed to the point of getting sick, trying to get everything ready by the 23rd. I didn’t think I was mentally capable of doing it anymore and started panicking. However the more people I talked to the more people that reminded me ‘I got this’. As soon as I was touring away from Falls Creek village I felt a sense of peace and a first step of achievement.

My mental state up here has been incredible, keeping very busy and focusing on very basic day to day activities. I do get a tad worried both financially and what I’m going to do when I return from my journey, but then I just focus on tasks that need to be done at that particular point in time. It is doing wonders for my headspace and wellbeing, and talking to the people I meet up here creates quite a surprised reaction.

I have wanted to snow kite, or ski, Spion Kopje everytime I have looked that way from Falls Creek, so that is my first goal before moving base. I am also due to do a village day trip to recharge batteries in the next couple of days, and will also have some friendly faces to catch up whilst there.

After I have kited Spion Kopje I intend to start heading to dinner plain for a 4 day catchup with friends and do some snow kite lessons/guiding whilst there (plus I have always wanted to do the Falls-Hotham journey and back). The party/catchup is on the 19th July so hopefully I have plenty of time to get there and pull my kayak ‘sled’ using wind instead of touring

Below is some links to some of my more memorable trips in the last 9 days (including a GPS whiteout ski tour to West Mt Nelse, using only GPS to tour and ski to Johnstons hut, before touring back to base):

– Initial trip to Edmondsons hut to setup base: https://www.relive.cc/view/1656405258

– A good snow kite session: https://www.relive.cc/view/1662484043

– The blind trip during a storm to find lee-ward goods (which there were some nice tree runs just before Johnstons hut): https://www.relive.cc/view/1670830451

I’m still working out WordPress & gofundme on my phone, so I have waited till close to the end to put pics of tent life and hut life, rather than trying to break up the text with images (hopefully next time I am successful with that…):

Another bluebird day ski touring

Strange ice melt at Edmonsons hut

Setting up camp

Peek-a-boo

Food reorganisation

Got some good wind, and bye bye Baz

Typical food prep

Curried rice and mushrooms

Instant mashed spud and chili

Drying out icy firewood

Drying out gear

Waking to a foggy day

Before the storm

The morning during/after the storm

GPS skiing in the storm

(And don’t forget to keep donating/supporting so I have something to restart life with when I return, I appreciate the support a lot ☺).

https://www.gofundme.com/help-simon-with-mental-illness

Also at this stage I have to:

– Kite SITTING IN the kayak ‘sled’ when its suitable conditions (which was a goal for 8K, thanks Nick)

– Kite a full moon (or close to) at night when the conditions are right (which was a goal at 8.5K, thanks Baz)

– Spend a week only using and sleeping in a snow cave when the goal hits 9K (thanks Brandie)

And I’m very open to trying realistic challenges during my journey at certain targets, send me a message on Facebook ☺.

Much love,
Arohanui,
Simon

The day prior to leaving : Getting ready to go!

Thanks everyone, thank you for the huge support you have all given 🙂

I have everything packed and am ready to go, and thank you all so much for helping me be able to survive.

It will be a challenge and a journey, both through a lot of isolation and huge amounts of excitement .

I now want to help others that have helped me, and then gradually help to spread a message about mental health.

And I now thank you for helping me get on back on my feet, to learn to appreciate life, and to help me start again.

 
Much love,
Arohanui,
Simon
 
I will try and send daily pics to Instagram/Facebook, GPS logs of my journeys and locations, and occasional Gofundme Updates and Blog Update
 
 
(and ps, when the conditions are right I’ll kite that kayak Nick now that its 8K, and apparently Baz now says that when it hits 8.5K I have to do a night kite when its a full moon…)