Having a safe-space to retreat to is essential for my wellbeing, and I have designed my entire home to be such a self-accommodating sanctuary. It is the one place in the world where I can feel at ease in my body without thinking about it
I think so clearly, my mood is stable, digestion good, my stiffness has resolved and flexibility returned, chronic pain disappeared, and overall quality of life has improved greatly, despite the diet being quite restricted.
My home is my haven: an ode to woollen blankets, beeswax candles, glossy plants, locally-roasted coffee and home-baked cake. But I often forget that drawing my comfort zone too close can be cloyingly claustrophobic.
When I was in my teens and early 20s, I had a severe panic disorder. It peaked in my second year of University, when I was so anxious that I only attended a handful of lectures. As my world shrank, I realised that I had to do something.
I’m thinking about my brain as I play the piano. I’m not having to work hard every minute to ensure that the words make sense, but instead I’m translating the dots on the page (effortlessly now after more than thirty years) and turning them into a place of safety and joy, coupled with tantalising moments of visceral bodily feedback.
At school I was that kid who was always playing with his hands, tapping on a desk, or a wall, or a lunchbox, or anything really.
This experience changed my life. I’ve become much more confident with who I am and I’m now able to use running as a strength, its become more than an interest for me, its become a passion.
This morning routine was not developed overnight but, instead, was crafted slowly over time, with lots of trial and error. It took realizing and accepting my morning reality, and then working with it intentionally. Eventually, a routine developed that created an excellent flow to my day and I knew I hit paydirt.
What I didn’t ever consider when I began the gym was how good weight lifting is for self regulation. When the barbell is on my shoulders, it almost has the effects of a weighted blanket – it feels really comforting and grounding.
I started to search for activities I could do outside that didn’t exert too much physical energy but kept me busy enough so I wouldn’t go stir crazy. We had one unused raised bed in the garden; I claimed it as my own.