Run #30 Reflection: 2 little ducks 🦆🦆

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It was as if the stars and planets aligned, the various Gods of this world were all smiling down on me, or I’d simply got out of the right side of bed (which, ironically, is the only side of the bed I can get out of in my new flat for lack of space in the bedroom). I can’t really describe to you what this run felt like other than, well, glorious. And I can’t believe I’m using that word to describe a run! But it really was. The night before I’d had a decent dinner (salmon, broccoli and sweet potato), had a decent night’s sleep, got up feeling relatively refreshed and had a good breakfast (my usual porridge, seeds, almonds, cinnamon and honey) as well as a bagel and coffee. A friend of a friend who’s run the London marathon before suggested I had a plan for my race day run, something I hadn’t yet considered. And so in preparation for the day itself, I thought it was worth putting my plan in to action to see how well it played out before I did it for real…

So, as above for preparation. I set off late (I’m always late – better change that for April 23rd!) but it was only by an hour; I was trying to mimic what it *might* be like on marathon day so I felt adequately prepared. So I set off in my shorts, vest, running belt (I look like Lara Croft of Runners World, just not as hot or fit) and my new runners (I’m in love with them, sorry old Asics). The sun was shining proudly against a clear blue spring sky. It happened to be the weekend that there was a mini-kind-of-heat-wave in England. Not ideal although I guess helpful just in case the end of April throws up some lovely weather for everyone but runners (well, I don’t like running in the heat, anyway). At least there was a bit of a cool breeze. But unlike my last long run – the failed – 20 mile attempt – today, I was in the zone.

In. The. Zone.

My music was pumping (thanks to a friend for putting together a unique Spotify playlist for me – old school hip hop with some power ballads!). I was focussed. I just kept on visualising the London marathon. My mind wasn’t wondering, my legs weren’t aching and I didn’t feel sick. The only thing that was a slight discomfort around mile 15 was the fact that I needed a wee, and then the added agony of trying to decide whether or not to have a pee in the bushes (I decided no – I just wanted to keep on running). I was doing 3 loops of a route I’ve come to really enjoy in Swindon, my new home. Running out towards Coate Water Park – a favourite childhood place and actually, still one of my favourite places as an adult – felt so good. A mix of hills and flat running and then, when you get to the park itself, opportunities to shelter from the sun in the shade of the woodlands and the chance to enjoy the view of the lake – not to mention the challenge of darting out of the way of children on scooters at the play area! I’m sure some people in the park had a serious case of déjà vu throughout the afternoon. But it was glorious. Absolutely glorious. It just didn’t feel like that much of a challenge. How can that be, when Monday was so tumultuous and trying?

In fact, this was such a glorious run that not only did I meet my 20 mile target, but I went for another 2 miles. TWO MILES! That was like another half an hour (my pace had slowed by then!). I was chuffed. So bloody chuffed. Not only had I reached my target, but I’d surpassed it. It was so important for me to try to reach 20 miles before the marathon; mentally, I needed to know that physically (and mentally) I can do the bulk of it. I should have started tapering at this point, doing a 15 mile run today but I just simply had to do at least 20 miles. And I did, and then some. 22 miles. I can’t quite believe it. And yet, I can. I now believe in myself. And that is the best feeling of all of this.

So come on April 23rd and the additional 4.2 miles – I’m coming for you.

Run #30 Rating & Reflection

Achievement = 5

Enjoyment = 5

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The Cotswold Way Reflection: I did it my way😊

After a bit of an emotional and tiring day on day 4 I actually took the decision to come home instead of going to the B&B for what was supposed to be my last overnight stop on the route. The 4 days ultimately served their purpose: I got fresh air, peace and quiet and time to reflect on things and because of that I returned much calmer. I also feel good for challenging myself, doing some exercise and spending time in the outdoors. Slightly annoyed I didn’t complete the whole thing but I gave it a go and considering how the reality of it all panned out, I think I did myself proud.

I know it must be scary reading some of my posts; I really don’t mean to upset anyone but I want to be honest because it’s helping me recover and I hope it’s helping in a wider sense in contributing to an honest, no-bullshit conversation about dealing with a mental health illness. Showing the ups and downs all at once shows how not so black and white depression is. You can feel elated yet down at the same time; motivated and disinterested all at once; brave and scared in the same instance. It really is bloody confusing! And I know it must be like that for people on the outside looking in, not knowing how I (or others with depression) are feeling. But I can tell you one thing: support, no matter how big or small, makes the world of difference. I don’t expect anyone to understand this illness – especially when I don’t myself – but knowing there are people who care about you along the way despite not understanding is what really matters.

Broken/Identity: the Scarecrow, the Tin Man & the Lion

In my When the drugs don’t work post I briefly mentioned how I’d recently had 2 ‘moments’ relating to me coming off of one lot of anti-depressants. I also said I’d explore them in a separate post. Well, since then, not only have I had a few more ‘moments’ but something else has cropped up that’s essentially led me to feeling broken – physically, mentally, emotionally – and feeling like I’m having an identity crisis. I feel like all 3 characters from the Wizard of Oz but in reverse: I have a brain, I have a heart and I have courage but they’re slowly being chipped away at and I fear I’ll lose them. This is why:

So, I’m fully off the Amitriptyline, which I was taking to help me sleep. And I’m pleased to report that my sleep has relatively been unaffected since coming off the drug. But, for the short term, that’s where the positives stop. The withdrawal symptoms have been agony. I suddenly feel as if I’m riddled with arthritis from head to toe; my shoulders feel like they’re tissue paper that’s been scrunched up or bubble wrap that’s been twisted and popped all at once; my digestive system feels like an Olympic gymnastics team’s flipping and tumbling inside it; my head feels like it’s a hamster wheel – fairly empty but rapidly rotating making me feel dizzier and dizzier; and each night, my bed sheets are soaked through from profuse sweating (I know, gross, but it’s the truth and I promised to be frank and candid). And that’s just the physical symptoms. Increased anger, heightened paranoia, reduced concentration, inexplicable irritability and constant crying (more so than usual which, for me, is like saying the Niagara Falls has got bigger!); those are just some of the mental and emotional responses I’ve had. So all in all, a rather unpleasant few weeks. Slowly but surely I feel as if my brain is disintegrating and my body is withering, becoming limp and lifeless like the Scarecrow dangling in the field.

Adding to my broken body, I now have a broken heart. It would be unfair for me to go in to detail because this doesn’t just directly affect myself, but I can’t really write this blog without reflecting on life as it happens, and experiencing a break up and the subsequent broken heart is something that’s recently happened to me. And it’s the proverbial straw. I’ve gone to write this sentence a number of times and I still don’t know what to type. To keep the Wizard of Oz analogy going, I feel the exact opposite to how the Tin Man feels when he’s given a heart: deflated, disappointed, despondent. Towards the end of the film, the Wizard of Oz says to the Tin Man “Hearts will never be practical until they’re made unbreakable.” And yet the Tin Man still wants one. Why? What I’d give to have an unbreakable heart right now, or even no heart at all. Ok, ok, I don’t mean that. I do believe in what Tennyson said, and I’m trying to remind myself of that every time I feel anger / despair / confusion about this all. And the thing is, I do still have a heart: I am still in love, I love so many things in life, and I still believe in love. For now. But with everything else that’s been going on, it’s hard to remind myself that things will get better. I’m trying so hard to just let the feelings and emotions wash over me but not drown me. My little heart is still beating, just not pounding. I feel broken physically, mentally and emotionally, but I am not broken and I won’t feel broken forever.

And that’s where the Lion comes in. Man alive do I have courage. It’s not something people usually boast about and it’s certainly not something I usually attribute to myself; I just think “Well, I just get on with things.” But I am going to boast right now #sorrynotsorry. I am brave. I do have courage. I’m facing up to some tough shit and trying to deal with it the best I can; I’m asking for help where I need it and I’m trying to accept when I’m not coping. I know I’m not the only person in the world who has problems, but I also know that everything is relative and one person’s crap isn’t necessarily better or worse than another’s: crap is crap and we all deal with our own crap in different ways (figuratively speaking, thank you!). I’m just trying to deal with my own the best I can and in a way that’s right for me.

And yet, I’m terrified. I am so scared that my broken body and mind along with my broken heart will break my courage. And without that, what do I have? My yellow brick road. I have my yellow brick road: hope. I can’t and don’t know for sure what will happen and how things will turn out but, then again, neither did Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man nor the Lion. So I’m just going to keep on putting one foot in front of the other and follow my yellow brick road.