Though not necessarily brave, I’ve always considered myself an adventurer at heart. Maybe a bit daft, even. In my work as a mental health first aid instructor and a private practice consultant, I see people who grapple with social anxiety, stress, and depression.
I often preach the gospel of stepping outside one’s comfort zone. But hey, it’s easier said than done, right?
Inspired by our ancestors who braved saber-tooth tigers and trekked miles for food, I took the plunge for the Mental Health Foundation. But this leap was more than just a tick off my bucket list; it was deeply personal. Last year, I had a pituitary tumour removed. That intense experience made me reevaluate my priorities; ever since then, self-care has been at the top of my list.
Now, back to the plane. My instructor, Josh, was a pro. His pre-jump brief was as exciting as listening to a speech by Rishi Sunak, which oddly calmed my nerves. “Place your hands across your chest, wrap your legs around the underside of the plane, and head back,” he advised as if telling me how to tie my shoes.
The plane taxied down a short runway under a cloudless sky. Perfect weather—unlike the cancelled jump a few weeks prior due to bad visibility. We reached an altitude of 14,000ft, and I found myself afloat among skydiving aficionados and charity-driven daredevils like myself.
Josh handed me goggles so tight they made me look like a cartoon character whose eyes might pop out at any moment. Then, the plane’s door opened, and for a fleeting moment, I imagined myself getting sucked out like in a bad action movie.
One by one, people took their leaps. I mimicked a mantra in my head, “Hands across the chest, feet under the plane, head up, wait for the tap, then Superman.” Finally, it was my turn.
As I inched closer to the edge, my brain screamed, “What the bleep are you doing, Mike?!” But before I could complete that thought, gravity took over. I was tumbling through the air, screaming, but also oddly liberated.
Josh gave me the much-anticipated tap. I thrust my arms forward, miming Superman, grinning like a madman. And just like that, the sheer terror transformed into an adrenaline-fueled euphoria.
As we descended, Josh handed me the parachute controls. “What happens if you let go?” a devilish voice in my head wondered. Ignoring it, I swivelled left and right, marvelling at the beauty below.
Eventually, Josh guided us toward the landing zone. “Legs to the chest, then out in front,” he instructed. And we landed like pros—or rather, he did; I was just along for the ride.
“What was it like?” the cameraman asked. “Absolutely insane!” I blurted out, my heart still racing.
This was not just a thrill-seeker’s dream but a defining moment that combined personal growth, healing, and advocacy for a cause I deeply believe in mental health. Skydiving was a literal and metaphorical fall into a new understanding of life and resilience, a perfect symbol of my journey from a patient to the pinnacle of self-care.
Thanks to this experience, I’m even more committed to championing mental health. I took a leap for myself and everyone who has been where I was. So, let’s soar to new heights together in our collective fight for better mental health.
Would you like to help, too? Please spread the word, donate, and let’s make a difference. Because sometimes, a leap of faith is what it takes to move mountains.