Meet Paul McGuire, a 30-something resident of Glasgow, Scotland. Paula is a writer - a childhood dream come true. She is also a motivational speaker, and a radio host. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio. She has tried all 17 Olympic-style sports of the Commonwealth Games. She has flown aerobatics, gone wing-walking, and trained as an astronaut. She's also spent a day as a teacher, a farmer, a police officer, and many other occupations. She is no ordinary individual, though she insists she is exactly that, ordinary, and perhaps she is right, if thriving off a continual diet of adventure is ordinary.
Life has not always been this adventure filled roller coaster that now carries Paula from day to day. Just a few years ago Paul McGuire was little more than a social recluse, terrified of meeting new people, having to scope out any location for a social gathering as thoroughly as a team from MI5, that is when she couldn't lie to get out of attending. Anxiety and associated phobias and mental health issues had Paula on a serious downward spiral - until she decided to become a Commonwealth Games athlete.
In a show of incredible courage, with few knowing anything of her real motivation, and in perhaps a last ditch effort to confront her anxiety, Paula embarked on a plan to undertake participation in all 17 sports of the Commonwealth Games. It was quite an undertaking for someone who had never participated in sport - any sport!
Her plan worked. Paula was learning to embrace a life she had hidden from for three decades. Athletics done and dusted, she then launched into experiencing a list of "Dream Jobs," the occupations that kids say they want to do when they grow up. Complete with pulling 3+ Gs in a centrifuge, Paula had discovered that through adventure she could conquer anxiety.
Paula is not done yet. To overcome a fear of water, brought only by a childhood accident with scalding water, Paula has learned to swim, this summer. To put her new skill to the test she's announced her next great challenge - to swim the coast of mainland Britain, a distance of 1800 miles, in the open sea!. No one, man or woman, has ever done this. She's calling it her "Big Mad Swim" and she hopes it will serve as the springboard for a discussion about anxiety and mental health issues throughout Great Britain and indeed around the world. It's a discussion she's helping to fund with a JustGiving campaign while a Kickstarter campaign will help fund a documentary about the swim.
Paula's story is deeply personal. it is a story she now shares very publicly in a sincere desire to help anyone else who may be feeling the same fears she allowed to rule her life for 30 years. After listening to the podcast, to learn more about Paula, her swim, and how you can help support her and contribute to a discussion of metal health issues, see the links below.
• The Big, Mad, Swim Documentary (a Kickstarter Campaign)
• Just Giving Campaign for Mental Health Association (Donate Here!)