Bowling for my life

by | May 15, 2024

On Saturday morning I found myself holding back some tears before heading to Narre Warren to kick off my first tournament playing singles (lawn bowls).

It was in those moments where it all started to set in how important Lawn Bowls had become to me over the past couple of months.

Chronic anxiety has something that has plagued me for multiple years, but more so since the birth of our second son in December 2022. It ramped up so much that I lived day to day with chest pain, breathing attacks and headaches, plus a lot more symptoms that find their way to the surface. For so long, I tried to avoid the reality of the case and a lot of that was around the shame I felt for feeling so out of control, and I didn’t want to blame others (and I still don’t).

It was last October that I shared a post about postnatal anxiety and depression of which I was met with a message to just get over it. I instantly went into shut down mode again because I didn’t feel safe being vulnerable.
I haven’t been able to process other people’s actions or words well over the past couple of years, which has contributed to my lack of ability to step in to my heart and out of my head.

I don’t want to sit here and explain all the situations that found me shutting down, because the important thing here is to learn from all of the events that led me to this moment and look to create my own change in my life. Some of these experiences came from jobs I have done, places I have been and people I’ve surrounded myself with.

These experiences at work and in life, mixed in with the anxiety that brewed with having a second child at times pushed me over the edge. Right now, my chest pain is back!

These experiences are shared in more detail in the podcast I will share June 3rd, 2024 titled ‘it’s break time… anxiety leave’

The great thing with pain is that it reaches a point where you have to do something about it, and at a time in my life where anxiety consumed me chronically, lawn bowls fell into my lap.

A great man, also named Shane came to my book launch and from there asked me to speak at three ‘Bowl For Your Lives’ Tournaments – Bowl For Your Lives | Mental Health Awareness

I picked up lawn bowls to play with some good friends, and I found that for a couple of hours a week I had no pain and had the ability to stay in the present moment. In this moment it’s even hard to explain how playing the game has helped me.

As I stood on stage presenting about how I’d learnt to move through the challenges in my life, I still didn’t understand the impact the game was having on me. Shane and Cam who run Bowl for your lives shared what the game meant to them and it was each time they spoke I started to understand the impact the game was having on me. Walking up and down the green conversing with another human, focusing on one ball at a time and understanding at the end of the day it was much more than a game.

Bowls can’t be everything for the chronic anxiety and there is other things I do now to look after myself but bowls is the safe place for me now to go and feel at complete ease. Since being a father I’ve experienced more anxiety than I have ever felt before and I laugh about it despite the pain. It’s teaching me so much about myself and creating further opportunities I didn’t see coming.

Don’t get me wrong, the thoughts are sometimes incredibly horrible and the feelings are torturous at times but if I ignored it, it would get so much worse.

Lawn Bowls has changed my life and while lawn bowls might not be what changes your life, it’s important you find the things in your life that will allow you to live in the present moment without stress as often as you can. Whatever your thing is, mixed with some therapy, exercise and surrounding yourself with incredible humans makes for a winning recipe.

Here’s to many more hours on the greens.