I’ve spent many years of my life plagued with anxiety, and as people with mental illnesses know all too well, these things do not tend to get better with age. If you work really hard at trying to fix yourself, get the right medications, and the right therapy, you may be able to slow it down, but it is certainly uncommon for a person’s mental health issues to improve dramatically. It’s even more rare for that to be a lasting improvement.
Nevertheless, I have found the secret to ease my anxiety, and all it took was nearly dying. No, this is not an exaggeration, though part of me certainly wishes it was. What I am about to say is completely true. Approximately three weeks ago, I had a legitimate near-death experience.
Odd for someone who rarely leaves the house to have a near-death experience, and stranger still for it to be self-induced. You see, my youngest brother Chris returned to Maine for a while after living in Texas for close to a decade (That in itself is odd, because 10 years went by so quickly!). He’s always been the more adventurous type, whereas my risk-taking days were left well behind when I was no longer a teenager (says the guy who got hooked on vicodin for years in his mid-twenties).
That aside, Chris is back home for a while, so we’ve been going out on adventures, something I’ve desperately needed. It would seem I didn’t realize how badly I needed these adventures even though I went whitewater kayaking in the literal ice-water of the Cathance River back in March… oh, did I mention I did it solo without any of the proper gear and nearly got hypothermia? That cold water really just sucks the energy out of you, and it happens so fast. Gives you an appreciation for how dangerous it really is.
Well, after that mishap, I ensured my subsequent adventures were with a buddy. In the case of nearly drowning, we went white-water kayaking up at The Forks. When I say we, this includes Chris and his friend Mary, who I had only just met the day of. I had some initial concerns, because I’m not a strong swimmer, I don’t know many women who are into your more extreme activities like whitewater, and I knew damn well if anything went wrong, I would be too busy saving myself to help her in any useful way. If anything, it was more likely she would have to rescue me, though to be fair, I wouldn’t have minded. That is oddly appealing to me.
When we got to the water, there was a memorial for a 14 year old who presumably drowned in that water. Seeing that memorial for Nolan, along with the body boards for emergency rescue should have caused a little bit of hesitation. I saw it, my nerves went a bit crazy, but I remembered I was with an experienced adventurer. Even if something did go wrong, Chris was prepared. We’d be able to count on him if shit really hit the fan.
And indeed, there was shit all over the fan. At 9,000 cubic feet per minute, the water was quite intense. We had watched YouTube videos of similar conditions ahead of time, but no matter how many GoPro videos are out there, nothing holds a candle to the real thing. Even so, we held our own… for a bit.