Zombie?

Well where are we, three weeks into medication and two therapy sessions down, I’m feeling positive.

Part of it is the medication, it relaxes me, calms me down and turns my anxiety into something manageable. It doesn’t stop it, I still fret, feel guilty if I don’t think I’m working hard enough, if the house isn’t clean or if I didn’t run far enough but I’m not paralysed by it.

Take for example this evening, I planned to run but had to work late, a few weeks a go I would have run, anxious about getting fat and never running again. Instead, as I’m doing a running challenge over the next month, I resolved to rest, I stayed in, still busy, tidied the house, cooked dinner, decorated the tree, did some Christmas shopping and wrote the cards but I’m not consumed with fear and guilt. I feel bad for not going but not bad enough to make me go.

Now that’s the thing I’m scared of with medication, if it means I’m not all that bothered about missing something I love, what else could it mean? Will I soon become an unfeeling zombie? Will I stop working properly because I can’t be bothered and be fired? Will I cheat on Gary because it doesn’t matter? I don’t know.

I’m keeping on the medication whilst I learn the CBT techniques properly so when I do come off the medication I’m equipped, able to handle the anxiety the way normal people do. Medication scares me, I’ve steered clear of drugs as I’m worried about what it can do and yet here we have a mind altering tablet I take each day. I have no idea what it’s doing, not really, will it have lasting effects? Will I ever be off it properly? I just don’t know.

But for now, it means I’m able to get through the day without crying, able to handle an intrusive thought without descending into a ruminating mess and able to feel a bit more positive.

I’m happy to chat and if you would like to then do reach out on the ‘Contact’ tab, however I am not a mental health professional and if you would like this support please see the ‘Support’ tab.

Mental Health and Running

I have several great loves of my life but one as a child I never thought I would have because I hated it, is running. I’ve mentioned it before, I run to keep myself skinny but I actually love it.

I started properly a few years ago when I hit 25 and all of a sudden jeans that fit easily were getting tight, hangovers got a lot worse and stairs became even more difficult. I tried zumba and cycling but it never stuck so I thought I’d give running a go. I downloaded the Couch to 5k app, went out with my old trainers, cotton t-shirt and shorts, ran for 30 seconds and honestly thought I would die. Over 10 weeks, my fitness slowly increased and at the end, like the app promised, I was able to run 5k without stopping, not very fast or at all well, but I could do it. Then, the addiction starts, I can run 5k, let’s try 10k and slowly but surely you are regularly running and begin to build up your wardobe so you own more exercise clothes than normal clothes.

As normal, I got bored of running by myself and sought out my local running club. I joined with arrogance thinking I could definitely run better than most. Turns out I was distinctly average however, there were now people like me, I was trying new routes, meeting new people and happily paying for something I can do for free. Three years later, I plan my life around running, regularly participate in races and my running friends are some of my best friends, plus the online running community are some of the most supportive people I’ve come across.

However, there is another reason I run, when I was in and out of the doctors for panic attacks about sleep aged 19, looking back it was OCD, but they ‘prescribed’ exercise. Again when I was going back on medication they recommended exercise and a few weeks later I was running.

Exercise is ‘prescribed’ for many reasons, the main one being endorphins, after a run, regardless of how it went, I’m always glad I went. Even if it’s just to get outside. It forces me to remember that there are good things in the world, it might be as simple as seeing an owl early evening or watching a lightening storm as you run in the rain. It’s beautiful. Secondly, it tires the body so that when we rest we are not restless and to knacker the body forces the mind to rest. Finally, it’s just generally good for you, as you force yourself to look after your body, the rest follows, I eat better and drink less to make sure the work I’m putting in is maintained.

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Looking happy with the world at Cambridge Town and Gown 10km

However, it’s difficult. My mind is constantly telling me I’m not good enough, can’t do things and should give up. This is also the antithesis of my naturally competitive nature. Sometimes when I’m in a good place, I can run happily for miles, I am the most dogged determined person so I will get a good run done. Other times when I’m feeling low, be it due to anxiety, an OCD breakdown or just a standard bad day then I’ll struggle, really struggle. I’ll stop, walk, beat myself up, even to the point when I’m crying because I can’t do it, shouldn’t do it, feel stupid for wanting to do something I am no good at. I run with a watch and my times/distances get uploaded and I’m stupid worried about people laughing and judging me for how slow I’m going or little I’m doing, so I go faster, longer, harder, then get injured and can do nothing! But on the other side, I also cannot give up, I’ve never been a quitter, never been able to give up which usually is a great trait but it means I don’t give myself a rest.

Running is about listening to your body and mind, mine so frequently tells me if I don’t go I’ll get fat and no one will like me, tells me if I don’t go, my running friends would lose interest in me, if I don’t go then I’ll get laughed at for not even being able to run, meaning if I’m struggling, I don’t listen, don’t give myself a break.

It’s ultimately a great love of mine, but something I struggle with like most things in life. Also, remember there may be many other runners and exercise addicts out there that also struggle and it’s something to be mindful of.

If you would like to chat, feel free to reach out in the ‘Contact’ tab, however, I am not a mental health professional and if you would like professional help, please see the ‘Support’ tab.

Sleeping

We have sick days at work, days where we are full of cold and need to remain in our duvet burrito. Days when our eyes can’t open and the thought of having to work brings back the sickness that kept you up all night. We can have sick days for these, ring the boss, I’m throwing up, sneezing, and generally contagious. We get to crawl back into our duvet and remain there, sleep off the ill feeling and go back to work, you’re ill, you need time to recover, understandable. No one would bat an eyelid. Physical illness is an entirely expected part of life and we’re granted the time to heal.

Now, I don’t get physically ill all that often, I haven’t been to the doctors for illness in as long as I can remember. I had a 24 hour sickness bug a few months ago and I get an annual cold but that’s it, so no illness, yet if you were to shake me, I’d still rattle with the sound of tablets. Anti-depressants. Happy pills. Placebos. Whatever you’d like to call them. I’ve been on them on and off since my OCD diagnosis nearly 7 years ago, you go on them, you feel better, you come off them, you feel bad, you go back on them and the cycle continues. And where am I in this perpetual cycle? Off the meds, I don’t like taking them, I feel they define me, define the battle, define the struggle. Make me weak, make me fuzzy and they’re a beta blocker, they block my feelings.

I wanted to come off them because for me, they’re there as a reassurance, but also, make me weak. So I eased off them, taking them every other day for a few months and now it’s been a few weeks since I took one. How do I feel? Pretty empty. Low. The self-esteem is worse than normal, I feel unloved, lonely and without any feeling at all. I’m quick to anger, very literal and serious. So naturally, I woke this morning, after battling through the effort to go to bed last night and the last thing I wanted to do was go to work. I want to lay in bed, head under the duvet and not speak to anyone. I want to disappear, I want to cry, I want to curl up, hibernate, I want to not be anything I am today. I want to wallow in self-pity and just feel everything and nothing all at the same time. Can I do that? No, I need to be an adult, sit in front of a laptop and earn the wage that pays for the house I want to hide in.

We don’t have mental health days. Days when we can’t function, days when there is a cloud over every step we take, every letter we type. If we do take time off, it’s labelled as ‘stress’, everyone knows what that means, means the person has gone crazy. They can’t handle work and need a little rest, bless them, life has made them tired, ahhh, you then treat them differently, weak, tip toeing round them, so as not to stress out the poor little mite.

And that’s exactly why we don’t have mental health days, that perception, that condescending tone of taking time to heal is weak. It’s not weak to recover from anything physical so why is it weak to recover the mind?

Life is stressful, it’s a monumental pressure that teaches you to constantly perceive life as a perfect picture. If you show something real, something true, some emotion, you’re not coping and that’s a bad thing.

But you know what, I’m bored of that, fed up. I’m weak, I’m not coping and today I want to curl up and hibernate. I don’t want to be here today, I didn’t want to wake up, to be responsible. I want to feel nothing and everything all at the same time, I want to be overwhelmed with every true feeling and then watch as people struggle to find the right words, to tip-toe around me. I want to have a mental health day and see it called stress, see the different treatment I get. But I won’t, that isn’t the done thing, so I’ll do what I did today, wake up, feel sorry for myself, put on a brave face and tell the world that everything is just perfect.

If you would like to chat, feel free to reach out on the ‘Contacts’ page, however I’m not a mental health professional, and if you would like ease see the ‘Support’ page.

 

 

Still proud

We’re out of the World Cup, to be honest I only watched one game and that’s because it was Father’s Day and my dad had it on, I have however had the John Barnes rap in my head for 2 weeks straight, think I know it by heart now.

I’ve never liked watching football, I used to play as a kid and was quite good, even trained with Cambridge United for a while under a coach called Jesus, but the interest died out as I got older. To me it’s just a game, something kids do at the park and middle aged dads do on a Tuesday before several drinks in the pub that they’ve definitely not earnt.

I dislike the culture, the lad, lad, lad culture. I dislike and yes I’m stereotyping, the drunken idiots on Saturday who chant obscenities with little regard for who is around. I also hate, absolutely hate how much professional players are paid. I appreciate the supply and demand culture, companies sponsor them due to a large audience but they don’t deserve it, this goes across the board for all athletes I must say but footballers seem to be paid the most. You should not earn nearly £2 a second for kicking a ball, it’s absolutely absurd which is why I will not support it. They do give money to charity, but this is mandated and I’m not sure all of the English team would unless they had to because to be honest, and this is a limited impression, but they don’t seem to come across as nice people.

However, all that being said, it has been a very united few weeks. Regardless of whether you like football or not, it’s been undeniable that most of the country has got behind them and supported them. The country is generally speaking, in the shit, everywhere you turn there is hate, even today as the orange one descends on the UK there will be protests of hate, pride month was ruined by anti-trans protesters spouting hate. You could post a picture of a kitten, a puppy and a baby and someone would have something negative to say, probably, who is the irresponsible parent who let such wild animals near a defenseless baby?

It’s generally assumed the UK is disliked by most of the world and we don’t even like ourselves. But for the last few weeks, we’ve been proud, felt hopeful, excited and it’s difficult not to be swept up in it all. It’s been great to see something we all have in common, be displayed on the world stage. We usually go out early but this young team was able to go above our expectations and create a real air of celebration.

In the aftermath of the defeat, the atmosphere here is not one of regret or loss. But pride and gratitude. We’re proud we had something positive to discuss for a few weeks, a distraction from the grit of life, to the England team we don’t beat you down. We stand with you, thankful.

Plus, it just goes to show that even with the world against you and your own side lacking in belief, we can achieve more than we expected. Our history does not define us, it gives us reason to keep fighting.

 

Thank god it’s cool

Hasn’t it been hot??

Too hot!

Now I know everyone says we should be grateful, we never get actual summers here in the UK and now we’ve had several weeks of unbroken sun, I even got a tan in Wales, bloody Wales! And you would have heard me moan constantly about the weather and I’ve been argued against every time.

Now I have nothing against the sun, it’s a great thing but I just prefer it hiding, my favourite seasons are autumn and winter, I love jumpers, boots, crunchy leaves and winter comfort food. I like the bright mornings with frost on the ground so when I saw a cloudy sky this morning I was happy.

So what the hell has this got to do with mental health I hear you cry. Well, I’m naturally a sweaty person, apparently it means my body is efficient at cooling itself down, for me it means I can’t wear silk and certain colours for fear of judgement. With the weather being how it has, I have been constantly applying deodorant so I don’t smell and wearing clothes that will not show any patches. I also have an incredible ability to sweat through shorts, denim as well! I’m either anxious about leaving sweaty marks on seats or it looking like I’ve wet myself.

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My soaked back and hair, oh and the glorious view from the top of Mount Snowdon.

Problem is, sweating is entirely natural yet we have such an aversion to it, thinking it as dirty and unclean. The anxiety surrounding it only increases my heart rate and makes me sweat more and I’m incredibly self-conscious of it. I’ve cried several times when it has been pointed out as I’m so embarrassed by it, I’ve tried specialist deodorants that block sweat glands as an attempt to handle it but I’ve just found it diverts it. It takes my attention away and I’m focussing on other things, do I smell? Are people looking at me in disgust? Did they move away because they find me repulsive? Result, I stay inside where it’s cool and get freezer burns from the constant reapplication of Dove which I now should receive royalties from.

So yes, I will continue to moan that it is too hot, I’m not being miserable, I’m just self-conscious.

If you would like to talk, feel free to get in touch via my Contacts tab, however, I am not a mental health professional and if you would like professional support please see the Support tab.