19 September 2015

My tandem skydive for Mind | I did it!

Dani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind Charity

I jumped out of a plane last month. Yep, that's right. After three months of fundraising and being scared out of my wits, it all ended within half an hour on 30th August. I tandem skydived for Mind, the mental health charity. And I raised over £1,300 which is just amazing.

My anxiety was playing serious tricks on me during the lead up and on the day, but I can honestly that I am SO proud of myself for actually doing it.

We arrived at Nottingham's Langar airfield at stupid o'clock and I somehow managed to eat some breakfast. After registering and a quick briefing session with everyone else taking part, I soon realised I was the first one out of the bunch to do it. Holy shit.

During the briefing session, I actually met someone else who was doing the skydive for Mind with some of his friends. He had raised a few thousand pounds, and was trying to skydive in flip flops to raise £5,000! Unfortunately I don't think he could because of safety reasons, but it was brilliant to actually meet someone else who was raising money and also suffers from anxiety.

Dani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind Charity

Anyway, I met my instructor Ali who was great. He kept me calm and told me what would happen and what I need to do. I've since found out he's a British champion, world record holder... The works, so needless to say I felt at ease and quite safe.

I decided to have a videographer, who took photos and a video throughout the skydive. This also involved an interview before and after the skydive, which to be honest made me more nervous! I'm pretty much smiling like a cheshire cat throughout... I figured if I didn't smile I might have cried.

Dani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind CharityDani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind Charity

All strapped in and ready to go, I tried to appreciate the view whilst sat down on the plane. Then all of a sudden it was time to jump... It's all quite a blur.

Dani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind Charity

Now for the fun/scary part. I didn't have time to even consider saying 'I can't do this'. Once you've moved to the door, that's it, you're gone. You fall at about 120mph from 10,000 ft (actually, it might be higher. I may have blanked that information out) and then you're being hit by the wind which hurts. Seriously. You've got to relax your arms during freefall, but when you've got the videographer wanted you to blow kisses, you end up punching your face from the force. I actually had a little bruise on my lip afterwards. It felt so surreal... I think I was concentrated more on keeping my arms still than appreciating the freefall!

Dani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind Charity
Dani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind Charity

All of a sudden, the parachute opens and you're jolted back up in the air. You can relax, enjoy the view... and be travel sick. The instructor spun us around a few times for fun. It was fun, but my stomach wasn't best pleased. Thank god I pulled myself together else someone would have had a nasty shock on the ground. Also, my harness was too tight which didn't help the sickness. I had pins and needles in my hands, and after the skydive I found bruises between my legs from the harness. That looked interesting. I'd rather my harness be too tight than too loose though!

The view was amazing though. It was so quiet and peaceful in the air, it felt as if everything just went away for those few moments and you can truly appreciate the world, the countryside... Pretty deep, but it was a highlight of the experience. It's like all my problems just left me in the air for a few moments.

Dani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind CharityDani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind Charity
Dani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind Charity

Back on the ground, I had another interview whilst trying not to throw up, and then ended up on my hands and knees trying to calm down and gather my bearings. Thanks to my parents and Alex for capturing this delightful moment... Thank god the videographer didn't record it.

Dani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind CharityDani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind Charity

I guess I haven't painted a pretty picture have I? Let me get one thing straight. It was INCREDIBLE and I'm so glad I've done it. I really am. I'll never do it again, but at least I've done it. If anything, I'm more thrilled at the fact it was more of a challenge than I anticipated as raising money (double my target!) just seems even more worthwhile.

Dani Johanna's tandem skydive for Mind Charity

You can read more about my skydive in the Kidderminster Shuttle too.

Official skydive photos copyrighted to Nick Robinson.
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