I have been mulling over writing this post for months now and decided that I finally just need to do it - stop thinking, stop being anxious, and just write. So, I'll just tell it like it is - I'm anxious. I'm always anxious. I'm worried about everything that could possibly go wrong, every death scenario going through my head constantly - will a semi-truck hit the RV and make us crash into the guardrail, will William fall off the mountain we are hiking up, will something horrible happen to Greg and what will I do without him, and on, and on, and on like this until I want to scream. But I don't scream. I've gotten really good at keeping the anxiety to myself - not that it doesn't slip out sometimes with a quick "Be Careful" or "Watch out."
Some may think that RVing full time is probably not the best thing for an anxiety driven person - and maybe it isn't sometimes - but for the most part it makes me feel like I'm overcoming the anxiety, I'm looking it in the face and saying, "Yeah, I'm scared that we are going to fly off this bridge, but we're going to drive over it anyway!" Silly, but that is how anxiety is - constant, irrational fear that to people without anxiety just seems silly, but living with it daily isn't actually silly at all. Living with anxiety daily is like having to constantly control the cowardly lion, who is living in your brain, roaring and clawing at every little thing that frightens him - which is pretty much every little thing!
When I was in my early 20s I was diagnosed as bipolar - something I probably could and should have been diagnosed with when I was younger. At first the diagnosis seemed completely ridiculous to me, but over time, and with medication evening out my manic moments, I realized that the diagnosis was correct. I have moments where I'm on top of the world, wanting to laugh, jump, scream and do crazy things - like going RVing full time - and then I have moments where I want to lay in bed, pull the covers over my head, and not hear the voice of another human being - not realistic for full time RVing. But I've learned something over the years - letting my diagnosis and my fears control what I do will only make my life and the life of those I love miserable. So I do the things I want - even the things I want when I'm on a manic high - and I prepare for the lows, and I try to prepare the people around me.
RVing full time isn't always easy for me - and that is why I wanted to write this, for everyone to see that what we are doing isn't as perfect as the pictures on our Instagram portray. I love the view of the mountains as we're driving down the interstate, but behind that perfect image I just posted is this anxious RVer, scared that the RV will overheat or another driver will run us off the mountain. At these anxiety filled moments I am thankful for my manic highs from my bipolar disorder - they overwhelm the anxiety, keep me going, and remind me of why I wanted to do this for my family. Life is short, and for me, life isn't always happy - when I'm in one of my low, dark periods, it isn't fun to be with me, or to be me, so every moment that I get to be happy I want to take it to the extreme! I want to make that moment count, for me and for my family, because I know it is hard for them when mommy wants to stay in bed or mommy doesn't smile while we are on a hike, so when I am happy, when I'm less anxious, I want it to be grand! And I want to show my son that anything can be overcome - even a mental illness.
I get through the anxiety because I have a wonderful partner. Greg takes on everything when I'm in my down periods. He cooks, cleans and manages the kids. I know he gets frustrated, but he does it for me while I lay in bed hating myself for feeling so miserable. He is definitely one of the biggest factors in keeping me going, along with our kids. I want them to be happy, or at least have more ups than downs, so it makes me fight my downs a little harder. If I can get through my anxiety, through my dark cloud moments, they will all be happier, so it makes me fight a little harder, even when it hurts like hell to fight the demons in my head. And RVing seems to help the fight a little too - keeping me constantly moving. Seeing beautiful things in nature makes it hard to stay gloomy, so the full time RVing life keeps my bipolar disorder on its toes, even if I'm a little anxious we are going to plunge down a mountain!
And while I'm never going to fully get rid of my anxiety or my bipolar habits, with medication, love and a little bit of adventure, I will survive to tell a wonderful story. And hopefully by writing this someone else out there with anxiety or any other mental illness will realize that life is worth fighting the demons in your head. I'm going to be anxious no matter where I am. I'm going to have highs and lows no matter what I do. So I might as well ride my highs and lows out in the RV, where a random curve in the road can expose the most gorgeous view, and my dark cloud and anxiety is instantly forgotten, even if just for a fleeting moment. Or the squeal of the kids when they see a waterfall or jump in the ocean stabs back the low and allows me to be genuinely happy. I may fret and worry over every little thing in the RV, every road we drive on, every malice that could hurt the kids, but I'm still going to enjoy it all because even an Anxious RVer is an adventurer.
"Adventure isn't hanging off a rope on the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life." - John Amat
I am a mother and stepmother, fierce slayer of mental illness, writer and traveler. I love the constant change of the road, and the experiences it brings our family. We have learned so much being full-time RVers, and love the freedom this lifestyle gives us.