An uneasy stroll down memory lane: how one seemingly insignificant experience can torment the anxious mind for a lifetime…

Me dressed up in a Dashiki
Me dressed up in a Dashiki

I often find that revisiting the past is a futile, yet seductive distraction from the present moment. Like a mirage, it seemingly offers a cornucopia of answers to our problems until upon closer inspection it lays bare its desolate plain. It’s curious that while we are already burdened with the knowledge of our mistakes, we are repeatedly coaxed into its clutches; as if another attempt to replay a certain memory will draw out some miraculous resolution to our woes. It is for this reason that I try to avoid dwelling excessively on what was and what could have been. What I am about to relate to you is a testament of how focusing on our internal thoughts at the expense of what is happening around us is not always a good thing…

I nervously perch myself on the edge of my seat at the rear of the drab, cramped minibus. The air is suffocating – nauseating even. I have been in a state of agitation all morning, and the oppressive mood only adds to my sense of uneasiness. The frenzied chatter of my fellow travellers completely saturates my senses. A part of me wished to indulge in this undoubtedly riveting conversation, and yet, the speed and dexterity in which one person stopped speaking and another started was such that it left me feeling rather apprehensive. Like a craftsman being expected to construct some elaborate structure without being given the appropriate tools to do so. As such I find it much less taxing to remain silent, and instead turn my attention to the world beyond this social conundrum.

A gargantuan spectacle erupts into my field of vision. Dominating the topography of this part of the world, the Uluguru Mountains of Morogoro embody the very meaning of the word ‘picturesque’. The rainforest that coats the mountain surface is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and hints of a world teeming with life, despite being very much in the background of the landscape. As such I cannot help but become so engrossed by its majesty until I feel as though I have personally explored every crevice of its rocky foundation. The longer I dwell on this, the more the noise made by my fellow classmates secedes into a low rumble of distant sounds until eventually even that has diminished. At last I experience something that has eluded me thus far on this journey – an inner sense of peace.

My three weeks spent in Tanzania encompassed a variety of activities that were meant to enforce self development and provide some form of aid to the people who lived there. While I think that we succeeded overall on the latter, the former is a question entirely dependent on the individual. Unquestionably, the Uluguru mountains are a sight to behold and I’d urge anyone with an interest in travelling to visit them. For me, it was akin to reliving a long cherished memory; its beauty provided an alluring, psychological escape from my social ineptitude. Yet so infatuated was I with the scenery that I do not recall attempting to share this experience with my classmates. I instead chose to view it from my own personal pedestal, where the mountain range served as a calming dose of oblivion to the chaotic nature of my thoughts. In summary, there is nothing wrong with escapism. There is however, something wrong with allowing those precious moments of life to seep away into the past, beyond recall…


Emotional support helplines:

Samaritans :116 123

Rethink Mental Illness advice line 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 09:30-16:00; local rate)

Sane Line:0845 767 8000

Mind also has a useful guide of support and services, which can be found by clicking the link right here

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