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If you were to ask me to cite the happiest time in my life, the answer is obvious to me: When I was 11 years old, living in Whistler, BC. Back when my father was alive, we shared a house there with several of his friends, a large, lovely place with a beautiful view of the mountains, and a little path leading down to a mountainside meadow.

Every day was busy there, because there was so much to do. I hiked up the trail by my house, took my bike to Rainbow Park and swam in the glacial lake, went to Meadow Park to play in the water park, kayaked up rivers, whitewater rafted on the larger river, did the rock climbing wall, and devoted entire days to exploring the mountains. On days when we had ski passes, we would go up the mountains on the ski lift. I never learned to ski, due to my horrid hand-eye coordination, but I was an excellent hiker, and could come back down to the ski lodge with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book while I waited for the rest of my family to finish with their ski games.

As an adult, I definitely get a lot less exercise and stimulation than I did when I was 11. I have had a lot of traumatic experiences which have slowed me down, have struggled with anxiety, PTSD, and depression, and lost opportunities. Whistler is built specifically to be an adult’s playground for the rich, it makes sense there would be so much to do. In places like Missoula though, I am not so lucky. I’m hoping Victoria will offer an experience closer to Whistler, since it’s so outdoors-oriented and has many more opportunities for outdoor enjoyment.

Exercise cleared up my mind when I was 11, and I am beginning to look back on that time in my life and wonder if a routine like that could offer me benefit as an adult. It’s a bloody understatement to say that I live a sedentary lifestyle. I’m beginning to worry that I’m trapped in a cycle of my mental health impacting my physical health, and my physical health state degrading my mental health. That’s why I have been looking into membership of UVic’s gym, been saving up for a bicycle, and eagerly dreaming of swimming.

Today though, I began considering another type of exercise: Martial Arts. The UVic recreation centre offers classes in Aikido and Kendo, and there are apparently areas in Victoria which offer lessons in kickboxing. I’ve never done rough contact sports before. I was always too gawky and frightened of getting hurt. But as I cope with my depression and my troubles with my mind and managing my anger, I’m beginning to think that rougher sports which have more of a focus on physical contact could help exorcise me of these emotions, and leave me feeling more lucid and calm.

I have issues with anger and controlling my temper. I often hit things, like pillows, when I’m upset, I sometimes practice minor self mutilation (biting myself for instance) and when I am worked up into an angry rage, I cope with it through violent fantasies, usually directed towards people I particularly hate and wish to see suffer, like my mother’s boyfriend or past abusers. I don’t like living like this. I want to feel serene and calm, not burning up constantly and imagining the pleasure of hearing someone I despise scream for mercy. I know that martial arts and contact sports are good as a means of controlling your emotions, and letting you find a healthy creative outlet for them.

Do any other autistics or people living with anxiety, depression, etc etc, have any success stories or suggestions when dealing with martial arts and contact sports? Is it a good idea? Does it help you manage emotions that are sometimes more powerful than you? Please let me know in the comments.