Travis turned 40 earlier this year. He believes he experienced a turning point around that time. “I had been having health problems caused by a number of changes in my life.”
He reflects on his life prior to that. He has done a lot of travel. United States, Canada, parts of Europe such as England and Italy, and most countries of South East Asia such as Cambodia and Vietnam. In fact, he believes that it was travel that was a major step in his maturing.
“When I returned from my first trip to Canada in 2008, people said I was different. I was more confident and outgoing.” He returned four years later. “I loved it there. I also loved my trips to the U.S.” After this, he launched into a series of trips to South East Asia.
Travis has worked as a kitchen hand for well over a decade. There was a period between 2012 and 2013 where he was unemployed and travelled along the east coast of Australia looking for work. He eventually found a job with a major hotel in Sydney, where he is still working.
Travis is good with his money and makes sure he does not live beyond his means. “I pay my rent first, then my food and other bills. Whatever is left over I transfer to my mum, which she saves for me. When I need to pay for something outside my normal bills, I ask her to dip into my savings.”
Looking back, he is glad for all his travel experiences. “I’m glad I did what I did. I was enjoying life with the people around me.” There is a reflective note though, “It is what it is, but I really do feel like I missed out on a lot of opportunities when I was younger.”
“A big reason is because I lost my father when I was little. I feel like if he had been there, then life would have been different. I would have gone on a different path. I can’t take back the years. You’re only young once.”
So how did he cope with his crisis earlier this year?
“I had a big drinking problem at the time. I think turning 40 made me realise I had to change.” But stopping the drinking did not mean life became easier.
“It was probably the hardest time in my life. My housemate thought I was going to die. On one occasion I started getting high blood pressure and bad chest pain. It turned out that I was having a panic attack.”
The drinking had masked Travis’ anxiety condition. His chest pain and breathing problems were all signs of this. Once he gave up alcohol, his anxiety soared.
Travis was however determined to get through. “I changed my lifestyle. I started eating healthier and exercising. I also do a lot of ‘grounding’ exercises every day. It’s like meditation. You go through steps where you recognise that you are in your own body.”
You focus on your feelings and the sounds around you
“You concentrate on your breathing, on your senses. You focus on your feelings and the sounds around you. I also take medication to slow down my heartrate when I need to. It is very challenging dealing with this. Mostly it is well-managed now though.”
The health professionals in his life are vital. “I have a very good relationship with my doctor. I was phoning her a lot and she would give me advice. She understands me well. I have been seeing her for a couple of years now. She can pick whatever is going on for me straight away because she knows me well. I feel very confident that whatever arises I can rely on her.”
She is very wise – the best I’ve had
He has also been seeing a psychologist. “She has a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge. She is very wise – the best I’ve had. She’s very natural in her conversation with me.”
Travis’ support network includes his church and friends outside of church. “People have been supportive. I’m not judged. The Pastor is good and the people will call me to see if I’m ok.”
The year has also been tough due to Covid-19. “The hotel I work for came up with a new agreement due to the corona virus. They had to cut everyone’s hours. I went from five days to three. But I’m extremely grateful to have a job.”
What does he think of his employer? “They are supportive, nice people. They accept me for who I am and I’m very happy working there. That’s why I’ve been able to stay there so long. I get on so well with the people.”
I didn’t know what was going on with my body, but I got through
Even through his torrid month of May, Travis managed not to miss any work. “I managed to scrape through. I didn’t know what was going on with my body, but I got through.”
How does he see his life today, and possibly the future? “I feel so much healthier today. I have a good flatmate. We get on really well. That’s another blessing. I’ve also started a relationship with a girl who lives overseas. I’d like to spend time with her. I’m also thinking about what it looks like to start a family.”
I have flashbacks to my 20’s and 30’s. They are memories now
For Travis, he believes his latest transition was about leaving behind his youth. “I have flashbacks to my 20’s and 30’s. They are memories now. They’re gone. I feel like I am not the same person. I am older. I don’t enjoy those things anymore. They are disappointing and rewarding at the same time. But now I am healthier. People tell me that they can see it in my face. I look a lot brighter. I sort of look back and don’t dwell on it too much and just move on.”