How being an enthusiast has done wonders for our mental health!

How does being an enthusiast affect your mental health? I provide insight into just how much being an enthusiast has changed my life and the changes it has brought to my constant battle with my mental health!

You have to admit, there is just something about spending a day at your favourite park that takes all of your worries and cares away and gives you a new found sense of freedom which you may not have felt in quite some time due to the grind that every day life inflicts! Well, for me that couldn’t be more true and through rekindling my love for the theme park industry I have been able to make changes to my life which just a few years ago I wouldn’t have imagined were even possible!

Back in 2017 I came to the realisation that in order to find mental stability and purpose once again I would have to find something new to focus my time and attention on which would enable me to once again find the joy that life could provide. Now, due to the pressures I was facing at the time such as being new to fatherhood, an ever changing job situation and lack of motivation due to the increased pressure my depression and anxiety was placing on me I realised that in order to achieve this I would have to find something new which would not only enable me to get active, but would also enable me to do something I loved more than anything I had done prior. It was at this point that a bolt of lightening struck and I realised just what was missing from my life, theme park visits!

Growing up I remained the only one in my family with a sheer affinity for the biggest and best thrill rides I could find, however even though we had our annual visit to Lightwater Valley as a family this was never quite enough and this therefore left me determined to find other ways of getting to other local parks whether that be with my Grandparents over in Preston or with my friends and their families at the time. Now, as I have grown up and transitioned into adult life I have found the increasing problem whereby I seemed to be left with less and less time to pursue my passion, however after experiencing a very difficult and very darkĀ  2017 Christmas due to my ongoing battle with depression I decided the time had finally come to take back control and get back out doing that which I loved most – Riding the biggest and best rides I could find! This was also made all the more easier by the fact I now had my own car and a new found sense of freedom which I hadn’t had prior.

Now, as those of you out there who find yourselves in a similar position to myself will know depression and the affects it has on you can be crippling both physically and emotionally to say the least! At your worst you can quite easily abandon all plans and stare at four walls without a care in the world due to feeling lost and helpless without any effort what so ever! That being the case I have found that since rekindling my love for the industry and making the visits I have that the affects placed on me by Depression have lessened vastly and that I seem to find myself feeling the pressures of it less and less as times go by! This I feel is down the 2 major contributing factors – The escapism that a great theme park can provide and the active lifestyle being an enthusiast entails due to all of the walking around and the pressures placed on your body whilst riding the rides!

Whilst riding a roller coaster or your favourite ride you will likely experience some form of endorphin release due to the positive feelings your experience will leave you with, and whilst doing this on a regular basis you are creating the ongoing belief that life can be positive just as much as it can be negative! There is after all no greater form of enjoyment that partaking in something which brings you a sheer sense of joy and a release from your everyday life!

For me a visit to my favourite park has always provided just that and with the imminent opening of two major new investments here in the UK I decided that there would be no better time to get back out there than the present!

Now, let’s take a closer look at what a theme park offers those who visit! It offers the chance to step into an entirely new world void of every day worries or concerns and offers a safe but thrilling environment whereby the only limitations you experience are those you place on yourself! With everything from the thrill and adrenaline rush the coasters provide to the sights, sounds and smells this different world inflicts you are immersed into an entirely different and extremely joyful environment where you can let your imagination run free and you can focus on you without the worry of any other pressures being present at the time! From a mental health point of view this is the most idyllic situation you can be in! Due to this we have found that since making regular visits to our favourite parks we are worrying less and are able to focus more on things that matter the most.

In July of 2019 however I decided the time had come to take the next step in my new found obsession, and that was to start my own personal online diary if you will of my travels and the joy the industry brought me! Enter Theme Park Insanity!

Now, before TPI I was very much limited to a small social group and admittedly didn’t really socialise very much at all, however after starting Theme Park Insanity I have fastly come to find myself part of what I consider to be the greatest community on the planet – the theme park enthusiast community! Since starting Theme Park Insanity I have made so many new friends including a new close friend in Luke of Coaster Gen! This for me has not only given me a brand new sense of purpose, however It has also given me a new found sense of belonging which I didn’t quite have before starting my blog! This has therefore made what is in my opinion the biggest difference of them all and has enabled me to have that which I have mainly lacked for the last 10 years – a social life! Couple that with the experience visiting my favourite park brings I have found my mental well being to be constantly improving, however things aren’t always so great and even though I have all of these fantastic new additions to my life I still face the ongoing battle that depression provides on a daily basis!

So from an enthusiast perspective the current lock down has been extremely difficult indeed and not just because we aren’t able to visit the parks, but mainly because the release and freedom the parks provide has been removed and this has made things rather challenging indeed. That being said having the connection to the community I do has enabled me to continually rise above the pressures my condition inflicts on me and has helped me to keep moving forward in the dark times we currently face with a continued sense of purpose and belonging which I wouldn’t have had had I not have been as actively involved as I am with this great community I am proud to call myself part of!

It’s therefore fair to say that since taking the decision to pursue my passion once again back in 2017 I have seen nothing but improvements all round and this really has helped me turn a corner in the ongoing battle I face! With the prospects of all the new and exciting parks out there I have yet to visit I am extremely excited to continue my journey as an enthusiast in the years to come and keep moving forward doing that which I love most which is creating content centred around my greatest passion – the theme park and attractions industry!

So what does the future hold? Well, now that I have grown in both strength and confidence I have found a brand new determination to keep exploring and this therefore means I now have a list of parks as long as my arm to visit! These aren’t just necessarily the american parks such as Cedar Point, The Disney and Universal parks and the various range of Six Flags parks! Oh no, there are now parks much closer to home which I fully intend on getting to and they aren’t ones I am going to have to hop an ocean in order to visit!

The park I am most looking forward to visiting the most and one which I am shocked has taken me this long to get to is Thorpe Park! I have never been and 5 years ago I would never have found the confidence to be able to drive the distance to visit it, however due to the vast improvements I have made with my mental health I now find myself in a position where such a journey seems realistic and actually possible! Even to this day due to my anxiety I do still struggle at times with long distance travel, however I am also finding in recent years that parks such as Alton Towers and Drayton Manor which once would have been out of reach are now perfectly feasible to visit! This again is due to the new found confidence my journey as an enthusiast has brought me!

Now, last October as you may all remember I did a solo visit to Alton Towers for the day and this in itself shows just how much of a difference being an enthusiast has made to my mental health! even just 2 years ago this would have been completely out of the question as it would have had me going into full blown meltdown at the prospect of making that distance by myself, however due to the confidence and belief I now have in myself to keep achieving new goals I was able to put all of that aside and make the journey regardless! I was extremely proud of this and as such this again has enabled me to keep moving forward where once I wouldn’t have been able to and for that I am extremely grateful indeed!

At the end of the day your ability to move past the restrictions you place on yourself comes down to one key factor, and that’s belief! If you truly believe that you can achieve something then you will!

Overall when I take a step back and look at just how far I have come over the last couple of years I find it hard to believe I have achieved some of the goals I have, however it is also fair to say that without the great community I am proud to call myself a part of and the brand new friends I have made along the way the distance I have come just simply wouldn’t have been possible! It’s definitely therefore fair to say that being an enthusiast, getting back out there and enjoying the industry truly has changed my life for the better and for that I am eternally grateful to each and every one of you who has helped me in my journey to where I am today! I therefore can’t wait to see what the future holds as I continue to move forwards doing that which I love most – enjoying every theme park and attraction I possibly can!