Injured

Sunday 15th November 2020 1.43pm

This blog focuses on using exercise as a therapy for mental wellbeing, something which has been put to the test this week. For those who follow me on my social media platforms you will know where I am coming from here.

It has certainly been an eventful 8 days which has reinforced the need for me to slow down, breathe (literally try to) and embrace patience. After my accident last Saturday (where I came off my road bike), the stubbornness in me tried to carry on with as much as I could, but as I was continually beaten back physically, I had to reflect on what my body needed, rather than what I wanted for it. Whilst I kept telling myself that my rib injury was soft tissue, I had a niggling doubt, that maybe it was a break. As I lay in bed Tuesday evening, a loud crack which caused me to metaphorically hit the ceiling confirmed my suspicion. As I lay there wondering what my next move was, or how even I was going to execute this move all I was concerned about was not being able to do any sort of training for a few weeks.

Picture taken not long after fall

I tend not to keep any pain killers in the house and will only get if absolutely necessary. We know that I am impulsive and have pre cons (previous convictions 😂) for overdosing. At 0315 on Wednesday morning, I took my first 2 tablets since my epic fail. On 0850 I made the phone call the local health board for advice due to difficulty in breathing. As a result, a hospital appointment was made for later that day. As I waved Olly dog off on his holiday, I first made my way to see my therapist, which somewhat ironically and perhaps conveniently was made the week before.

Therapy

After not seeing my therapist since early September, there were a few things that I needed to work over with her, in particular something which had been bothering me for some time and I was unsure on how to best deal with it. This problem was starting to become toxic to me as I felt it poison my brain and negatively impact on where I was each day. Apart from exterminating the problem (not an option), I needed to find a way to deal with it as all I wanted to do was run away from it. Sorry if this appears vague but it would not be right to mention the problem here.

It took a few words from my therapist, and a pointer in the right direction to put me on track as to what I needed to do and where I needed to be. Simple words seemed easy to turn a problem around (in theory anyway) but since Wednesday I have had the opportunity to put it into practice and so far so good. As usual, the hour seemed to fly by as we bounced from work topics to dogs, to exercise, to my dating life (that took most of the hour) and any other random stuff. I left the session with a solution. Next up was a trip to the hospital.

Hospital

This was the first time stepping into a medical building since COVID and it was only by chance that I saw a few weeks ago that you could no longer just arrive at A&E without booking (of course there are circumstances where you can, and I am sure people would not be turned away). First up was a temperature check (35 degrees) and a sticker telling me this stuck on my top.

Temperature sticker 🥶

After booking in I sat in the minor injuries waiting area with at least 30 other people. With my mask on, I found a hard plastic seat to wait keeping my distance from sick people. Whilst everyone had their heads in their phones, I scanned the room and started noticing people’s temperature stickers. I had only been there 3 minutes and I was bored already. I was also officially the coolest person in the waiting room. Next up was a game of guess the injury or illness, which was really not that difficult when people either had their foot exposed and a bruised ankle, or a bandage holding their finger on. This was going to be a long afternoon. Like everyone else, I then turned my attention to my phone, read the news, checked emails, looked through social media and read an article on ‘Medial gastrocnemius tears in sports: is it about muscle, aponeurosis or tendon?’ Yep, this is how I roll.

I left the hospital approximately 3 hours later having been seen by the nurse and the Dr and treated for a broken rib. Thankfully no damage caused to lung. I was given strict instructions to deep breathe and cough, otherwise there is a risk of picking up a chest infection. I am still having difficultly in doing both. Due to having an allergy to codeine, combined with my current medication, and it being after hours in the hospital for the pharmacy, I could not be giving much more than Ibuprofen (which I bought in Tesco). Due to the amount I have to take, I was also given pills to stop stomach complaints or ulcers forming.

Today

Whilst I am still in pain I feel that I am getting around better and feel more comfortable. Today, I managed a training session. It wasn’t much, it was 30 minutes of very light cycling on the Wattbike. My aim was to try and breathe normally, but without forcing effort. I think I managed ok. Going back to my first paragraph, I did not exercise today for any physical gain. For me it was for the mental benefits. Just putting on my PE kit and doing something is massive for me. I know it has only been a week without exercise, but for me that is a lot. I plan to give it another go tomorrow.

For now it is about taking it easy physically, allowing myself time and space to mend. Progress is progress right. No matter how small.

There are a few people who kept me entertained whilst I sat in the waiting room of doom. Special thanks to E, H, and to my personal medic J who makes sure that I take my drugs and do my breathing exercises everyday. Lastly, to Michele, who has told me a number of times today to cough and sigh (and I haven’t) 😮

Thank you xx

Wattbike day 😁

Racing head

Monday 26th October 2020

I have often written about thought processes and how they can dominate feelings and emotions; especially those which are negative and unwanted. Thoughts continually spin around despite our efforts in controlling how they feed rumination especially in conditions such as anxiety and depression. The neurotransmitter neural highway, likened to wires feeding electricity into a powerful substation. Wires which fire off in different directions to ensure that power is effectively and efficiently supplied to keep vital systems going. Where a power station will have a back up system to keep running if a failure occurs, what can be said of our brains?

Do we have neurological back up systems? Perhaps too deep a question for the here and now, but what I am asking is this. What is your back up system when your brain and thoughts take over? What do you do when your thoughts are racing in the middle of the night when all you want to do is sleep? What do you do when your cognitive thinking influences your physiology, such as causing an increase in breathing rate? How do you slow your thinking down? How do you control what feel like leeches draining the life out of you mentally?

Where do you turn and what you do?

Most of us will have an answer to this and the reason for this blog is to share what you do with others.

What prompted me to write this, is this is how I felt last night. I finished up reading a book in bed before shutting off the light. It was then that my head not just went into overdrive, but somehow managed to find that extra gear as it increased speed and fired off into directions and areas which were unknown to me. I lost my way and grounding as my thoughts spun out of control. I was ok, I was safe and there were no concerns in that respect. I now know they are just thoughts and I do not react in ways that I used to.

What had caused this, where had these thoughts come from and what were they of? My usual ‘go to’ at that time of night is writing, but last night this was not going to work. Instead, I used Twitter as a platform, where people replied with strategies of what worked for them. Apps such as Headspace, breathing techniques and You Tube were kindly suggested and what works for one person, may not be suitable for another. I find listening to Olly breathing and doing little snores quite therapeutic, but last night he was not making a sound. I was that wired I wanted to try and outrun my head but I could not do that, so instead I lay there with my hand on Olly’s chest. I eventually matched his breathing rhythm and managed to slow mine down.

We do not all have an Olly, so if you have any tips which could help others let me know. You can either post openly on feed or message me. I can then make a list to chuck out there for others to read.

xx

Welcome to John O Groats

Sunday 11th October 2020 3.51pm

Back in April during the early days of lockdown, I felt that I needed a challenge. As the world around us was changing each day and uncertainty loomed with how, when, and if normality would return, I knew I had to engage in what was normal to me. My MRI scan to determine how knee operation number 14 would be approached was postponed so I knew I had time to still do something crazy in the meantime. 

I had seen on Facebook that friends had joined a virtual challenge to run / walk the 874 miles from Lands End to John O Groats in 6 months. Thinking at the time that this was completely ludicrous and commending them on such a challenge, I began to think about what it would entail. Some quick calculation of covering 5 miles a day, or 35 miles per week put me off. I knew I had the level of fitness to cover the ground, but would these knees sustain that level of running? This is where my head came into play and this is what usually overrules any physical boundary or barrier and wins out. It was not long after that I found myself signing up and looking forward to starting on Monday 4th May, 42 days into lockdown. 

I had already run 397 miles during the first 4 months of the year so considered this as a warm up to what would follow. Those who have followed my journey will know that I have to move, and putting one foot in front of the other is what drives me, but more importantly is what keeps me going mentally. Running is not the all out solution for mental illness, yet it is an important cog that has turn for me to function on the level that I do. There are other cogs which turn alongside this which acting together provide me with the propulsion to get me moving. Being used to spinning plates, I was still working on my Post Graduate Diploma / MSc in Sports Medicine, and also decided to move house at the end of May. Other shite still spun around my head, but the busyness of everything ensured that I kept focused on what I was doing. I spent May painting every interior wall of my new 3 bedroom house, working on research papers, walking Olly, loading up my apartment in preparation to move, and also, somehow managing to run 162.9 miles, hitting 44 miles in the first week of the challenge. As I write this, I have no idea how I managed to do what I did as I left Lands End up the A30.

During the early stages of this challenge, lockdown prevented me running with friends or my run club. Parkrun had been put on hold, we were restricted to locality and there was a quietness and stillness about being out. I ran up and down what would have been busy streets, the rush hour traffic was non existent and with freedom I made the most of open roads. Prior to moving I found new routes, explored different areas and would often end my run at the local shop or Tesco so I didn’t have to venture out again that day, apart from with Olly. I will always remember this time, not only because of the devastating affects of COVID-19 but how it became a turning point for me mentally. Many people talk about lockdown having a detrimental impact on their mental wellbeing but for me, I found quite the opposite. The challenge I was undertaking, the running I was doing to achieve this and how academic study saw me flourish in different directions. 

Up until recently, I have always been a lone runner; whilst I still am, I very much enjoy going out with my friends and joining up with run club. As lockdown restrictions eased, it felt good to be around people again and feel part of the community or group running. Just seeing people out running again from a distance kept me motivated as each day I ate away at the miles.

I had no set structure or plan for this challenge. I kept the figure of 35 miles per week in the back of my head, and if I was hitting this then there was no concern. I did not run everyday, some days I simply could not be bothered, or more likely it was raining. My motivation wavered, and over the last 6-8 weeks I hit injury and illness, both of which sidelined me. When I could not run, I walked to make up the miles. Olly dog became a big part of this, as we walked along beaches, in the woods and through the park. Thankfully, he loves a coffee shop stop as much as me and when seating areas opened back up, then there was no stopping us.

Today, we finished our challenge, I say ‘we’ as Olly deserves a medal too. I ran alone this morning adding over 5 miles to the pot, then this afternoon, Olly joined my for the last couple of miles as we crossed the virtual finish line together (after a coffee shop stop).

I would like to tell Olly to rest up now we are in John O Groats, but as we are in the virtual world I still have another virtual challenge to complete. In June I signed up to run 870 miles around the Welsh Costal Path. Only another 317 miles to go.

Then it is a matter of Ironman and Ironpup training. I won’t tell Olly this just yet.

5 mile run out this morning
Coffee shop stop for hot chocolate, water and treats – Almost there Olly. Just up the hill to the end

Marathon Eve

Saturday 3rd October 2020 (2.21pm)

It’s the eve of the London Marathon and I sit here in a coffee shop looking at the rain outside. Those who know me, will know that I hate the rain and certainly will not go out running in it if I don’t have to. Some would call me a fair weather runner and that I would certainly agree with. The weather tomorrow looks much the same, and whilst I would prefer to stay under the duvet, the lure of my third London medal is more attractive.

As per all of my runs, I have no strategy and no plan. My run will start as soon as my body tells me it is ready to go. If that is at 5am then off I will plod. If it is at 9am then off I will go. I need to be out on my feet by 0930 due to my face appearing on the BBC TV marathon wall. I have no planned direction of travel, it will be dependent on the rain and more importantly wind direction. Living on the coast I will no doubt get wet and blown in all directions. My thoughts at this point once again turn to my warm bed.

I reflect on whether I am prepared to run 26.2 miles and my thoughts turn to ‘am I ever?’ I seemingly have this ability to just rock up and run. Apart from after one half marathon where I recall being slumped on the bathroom floor being fed Jaffa cakes. Not my finest moment, but an important early learning curve into putting sufficient fuel into one’s body. By now, after a number of marathons, an ultra marathon and an Ironman I should know what I am doing and what to expect. The heavy legs, the brain wondering off when tired, the lack of any thought process after 20 miles, the feeling of physical depletion as my body craves sugar, carbohydrates and salt, but it’s hard to digest, the mental battles that a depleted body fights, the negativity, followed by elation, followed by thoughts of get me off this planet now. The mind tries to calculate distance to make it easier, ‘only 2 park runs to go, only a park run to go’, such distances for me are easy but not after 20 miles. Most of you will understand exactly what I am saying, some make think I am a little weird, but trust me, your head plays these games in order to make a painful situation easier.

Whilst this year I have run in excess of 1000 miles, thanks to virtual challenges, I have over the last 6 weeks been plagued by injury and illness which has required investigation and follow up (to be sorted Monday). Nothing, however gets in my way, and tomorrow I will battle whatever comes my way to finish what I start. Tonight I will probably eat pizza and chocolate, washed down by Coke Zero. I will get my kit ready, pin my number on my top and make sure I have enough Tailwind and Wagon Wheels in my hydration pack.

My number is 28077 if you would like to track via the official marathon app. It will simply let you know when I start and finish. To all of my friends across the UK and further afield who are taking part tomorrow, good luck, enjoy every moment and stay safe. To all of my buddies who I know locally, I hope to see you out somewhere. I look forward to seeing your smiley faces, whatever stage of the run you may be.

If all goes to plan tomorrow, I will be 27 miles away from my 874 mile journey to John O Groats and 346 miles away from finishing my run around the Welsh coastal path.

When these challenges are finished, I cannot stop there as the hard work starts on Project 21. What I didn’t mention above is that when I finish an event I always say ‘I am never doing that again’.  These were the exact words I mumbled after Ironman Wales 2018. Yet, as I sit here, I quietly smile of what faces me next year as I head towards my second 140.6.

Almost there

World Suicide Prevention Day and Me

Thursday 10th September 2020 (1235pm)

**warning, blog contains triggers and talks of suicide. Please seek help if required**

Today marks national suicide prevention day, a day of reflection for me and somewhat celebration, but nationally a day of raising awareness and promoting support.

Let’s start with reality, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in 2019, the suicide rate for men in England and Wales was the highest for two decades, with 5,691 suicides registered. Men accounted for 4,303 deaths and women 1,388. There continues to be a trend in men aged 45-49, and in women under the age of 25. Each one of these figures represents one life gone, through whatever means or circumstance, some of which may not even be mental health related. The collateral damage to those close to each suicide would run the figures in excess of 10,000. There are many theories as to why these age groups are more at risk and include work, money and family pressure, and for the younger group, exams, social media, body image, relationships, and unemployment.

Over that last 4 years I could have been a statistic recorded on file with the ONS. A person who hit rock bottom with life and the pressures of work. A person who had everything, yet felt had nothing. A person who was loved by many, but never saw it. A person who always smiled, but hid the truth so well as I worked so hard at achieving everything I set my mind to. A person who would have left behind those grieving who would have had no idea how or why, or even where my thoughts and feelings even came from.

I’m often get asked why I have wanted to take my own life. For those who have not read earlier blogs, I have made attempts by wanting to drown and taking an overdose. I have been in hospital twice. My last attempt really put the shits into me when my GP told me that the drug I had taken could have easily put me into heart failure. The literal, panic and worry on her face I will always remember. If she could have punched me in the face there and then I think she would have. There was me thinking that I didn’t take enough to cause damage. Little did I know, that what I did take could have easily killed me. I felt so ill from it, all I could do was lie down and wait for the effects to wear off. The following day I was told that I should have called an ambulance there and then. Apparently, I was lucky not to be found dead. This is hard reading but this is reality. I am writing about me. The one who runs marathons, has completed an Ironman, the one who whatever the circumstance or pain can still smile on that Instagram or Facebook photo. The trigger for this attempt was work and being in a sickness process which is stressful and prolonged. I have been off work 4 and a half years and the process still rumbles on. Until this is over, I am not safe in myself, I am still vulnerable.

Another question I am asked, is what about your family? For those who have lost lost ones to suicide, all I can say is this. You do not think about anyone. Your head has no rationale thinking. It cannot think. Maybe it is too afraid to think and blocks those thoughts out. All you want is an ending. I did not want to die, all I wanted to do was block out and end the pain that I was feeling. At the time this was the only option. Blurred by negative thoughts and emotions. Such pain seeing no other way out. How can you end such pain without death? Did taking the tablets help? No, all I felt was ill, like my head was spinning on its axis, unsure of where the floor was as each step into the kitchen to get a drink required me to trace the walls around so not to fall over. I was scared, afraid with no idea what to do.

The rational person in me understands what it does to those left behind and that is the last thing I would ever want. The completely ‘gone in the head, irrational person’ does not see or understand this. I am sure that I speak for many in the same situation. In my job as a police officer I have attended suicides, images that will forever stay with me. I have known colleagues to take their own lives.

Thankfully, I sit here now writing this. I got lucky, many do not. Many leave us without wanting to. Many become a statistic.

If you can take anything from this blog, it’s don’t even try to end the pain through harmful ways. You never know what could happen. Mine would have been an accidental overdose, stupid, pointless and worthless. I don’t even allow myself to think about what it would have done to those close to me, I can’t, it hurts too much.

I write now in a better place. Forever thankful that I am around to walk my boy Olly and to see my gorgeous nephews grow up. So many things I would have missed out on. Too many to mention.

Keep safe people, help is out there.

#dontbecomeageorge

#dontbecomeastatistic

Thoughts

2nd August 2020 1044pm

I lie here in bed. Eyes shut. Mind racing. Eyes open.

I will not be the only one like this tonight, many of you out there will be experiencing the same thing. You go to bed tired but then a switch within your brain activates as if it is trying to tell you something, or convey a message as you subconsciously lie there thinking. Thinking about something. Thinking about nothing.

Our brains are so complex that the 60,000 or more thoughts which go through the channels each day are processed and dealt with without us becoming aware (most of the time). Whilst most of our thoughts fly in and out of the space between our ears, some of them get stuck in the centre. Why? The ones that stick we apply meaning to. Or perhaps, emotion is a better word. Emotion is a feeling that often controls these thoughts. If I am emotional about something, thoughts remain, I ruminate, look at things from every angle, weigh up scenarios, pros and cons. I think by doing this it will make a situation easier, or the outcome, of which often we have no control over will be determined (by my thoughts). Truth is, thoughts are just thoughts. How we choose to deal with such thoughts is the key factor here. The more emotion attached to that thought, the more it sits with us.

What keeps me awake tonight? What is going around in my head? Nothing in particular. Those who have followed my blog over the last few years will have an understanding with the intellect on how my brain functions. When I am awake it does not shut off, it is capable of holding numerous conversations with itself whilst engaged in a conversation with another. Rather than shutting down the icon tabs, more just simply open. Rather than focusing on one task, I focus on many. Maybe I am so used to spinning multiple plates, I find it hard to just let one fall onto the floor? I think back to numerous conversations with my therapist about letting the plates go with promises and attempts of me doing this, but I can’t. I need structure, focus, a goal and a challenge.

Last September I started a course which has been a lifeline for me. Today I submitted my last piece of work. I am now wondering what I will do tomorrow and asking myself how I will fill my time. Tomorrow I will not be studying sports medicine, I will not be detailing illness, injury and rehabilitation, or debating medical ethics, medications and doping control. I will not be engaging with the doctors and physiotherapists on my course on a regular basis and I will not be evaluating my own progress. I will soon be awarded with my Post Graduate diploma. To obtain my Masters I need to compete year 2 which is a research project. I have ideas and aspirations for this but for two reasons (financial and my still unknown work situation) I have to temporarily park this.

For me, writing things down helps. It provides clarity, and cognitively slows the brain down. This in turn helps physiologically as heart rate and breathing also begin to regulate.

Even whilst writing this, I have put a plan together in my head for tomorrow. I had already arranged to meet friends at 0807am for a dog walk. After this I may go out on my bike, followed by another dog walk later in the evening. It’s a plan. It’s a simple plan. It is flexible. It may change. I need to know that I will be doing something. Hopefully now my brain will shut off, my eyes will stay shut and Olly won’t wake me up for a poo at 0114 like he did last night.

Remember, thoughts are just thoughts. You control them. You attach feeling and emotion to them. If they are negative they will drain you of energy. If they are negative they will determine situational outcomes. If they are negative then bin them. Reframe that brain, if there is stuff in there you don’t want, tell it to do one (or insert word).

Now get off your phone, tablet or computer, this blog, or whatever it is from keeping you awake, and go sleep. Unless you are reading this in the day at work 🤭😮

Night xx

Change 

Sunday 5th July 2020 (5.52pm)

Wow, has it really been nearly three months since my last post? As we slowly edge out of COVID-19 lockdown and begin what is being termed the new normal, I thought I would pop my head out of my shell (yes like a little tortoise) and update you with what has been going on.

Hopefully you would have noticed a new name and look to my site as I am edging towards my third rebrand since starting this up. There have been so may changes in my life over the last few months I thought that I may as well change this as well. Change is good right? Every 12 months WordPress ask me to update and pay for my domain for the next year. When I looked at my site to do this, I had the sudden idea to change it. What was once depresseddetective.com mind-over-marathon.com (which still launches site) has now become swim-bike-runs.com. This starts a new beginning for me as my life has naturally evolved and changed, even within a short few weeks. The early years of my blog talked about struggles, pressures, illness, ideations of suicide, this moved on to a new relationship and happy times but being unhappy and stuck in a body and mind that  wasn’t me. Not being who I was and what I wanted to be drowned me in a toxic swamp.

I probably hit phase 3 of this weird journey I seem to be on in April when I was given the opportunity to move to a 3 bedroom house with a big garden in a lovely quiet location. Of course I jumped at it and not long after I spent a few hours each day at the house decorating. I painted every wall, door and skirting board. Bashed furniture together, put up curtain poles, lugged furniture around, built a lawnmower, BBQ, bought outdoor plants and pots (still alive after a few weeks), weeded the garden, moaned at utility companies and treated myself to an huge egg chair which is in the conservatory ready to build. As I look at what I have achieved, what I have gone through and what I now have around me, I can honestly say that I have not been this happy for years. As our COIVD bubble opens tomorrow, I cannot wait to welcome people to our home. I am back living close to friends who have been especially awesome over the last 6 months.  

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Hard life Olls?

I have continued to work hard with my online course which comes to an end in 4 weeks time. This distraction from my whole work situation has been a massive positive for me as I kept this overactive brain busy.

Seeing as my MRI scan in March was cancelled and any further knee surgery is in the unknown pile I decided to sign up for a couple of virtual run challenges. I am a person who is motivated if there is a goal and end result, otherwise it is all too easy for me not to bother going for that run when all I want to do is veg on the sofa.

The first challenge started 4th May and sees me running the 874 miles from Lands End to John O Groats in 6 months. This calculates to approximately 35 miles per week. Week 10 starts tomorrow and I am currently on 350 miles and near Knutsford. At the same time I am running the Welsh coastal path (something which I would like to do for real one day). Week 4 starts tomorrow and I am 89 miles into this 870 mile journey and kicking around somewhere just past Bridgend. It is also great to finally be able to meet up with friends to  both run and sea swim.

Apart from all of that, nothing much has happened. I am finally in a good place and I have met someone who is more of a pain in the ass than me! 

Subtle Art

Picture taken during today’s run

Wednesday 15th April 2020 (7.32pm).

Those who follow me on instagram (mind_over_marathon_runner) and Olly (olly_dog_cavachon) will know what we have been up to since my last blog and how we have been keeping ourselves busy. Whilst Olly continues to entertain, I am keeping my two feet moving and doing what I know will get me through the day and that is running. Grateful for some warm dry weather, I have got some good, enjoyable runs in and though it is the perfect weather for cycling, I have limited this to my local area due to the restrictions.

I am not seeing my therapist at the moment. I can via Skype or phone if I need to, but at the moment I am doing ok (yes I have my moments). I am banking my remaining sessions for another time.

My amazing friends keep me entertained everyday, with so many messages of support, encouragement and hope. Sometimes I am not the best in replying or I go off grid, but my friends know. I wasn’t looking forward to April and was dreading certain dates, but at the moment, they are becoming just another day.

I have a new life now. My past is exactly that. It has gone. No point reliving it. No point dwelling on it.  I have dealt with what I have needed to, accepted outcomes, had certain thoughts challenged by my therapist and reframed any guilt or grief that I was carrying and importantly should not have been carrying. Alongside this, I was sent a message on FB on Saturday which firstly made me laugh, and then got me thinking. This person, who I hardly know made me look at something from a different perspective. Since Saturday, their words have given me a nudge in the right direction. 

I am listening to an audiobook called ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck’ by Mark Manson. So much I can relate to of my past, but importantly so much I can relate to now as the next chapter unfolds. Writing this, I feel different, I feel like I have almost found myself again. For the last 5 months I have lived within what I can only describe as heavy cloud, where I had no strength to battle through. The boxing gloves I wore were like led weights stopping me from lifting my arms whilst my feet were trenched in thick tar, slowly lifting but making no progress. Now I am experiencing the cloud differently. It is a cloud as it should be, white, light and easy to glide through. 

Things have shifted for me and I smile as I right this. I have plans when all this is over. I am looking forward to a potential move (but happy here if it does not come off). I am looking forward to seeing my friends again, BBQs planned, nights out planned, runs planned and who knows what else we will get up to. I am looking forward to going home or across to London to see family. I am looking forward to whatever comes next.

The George that is writing this now has a new clarity, a freshness, a newness, a purpose, shit loads ahead of her, and a lighter heart to give.

Stay safe peeps.

xx

What. How. Will.

Friday 3rd April 2020 (8.18pm)

I started writing this on Wednesday but binned it as I did not have the words to articulate what I wanted to say. In fact, it probably was not the words, but the emotions, thoughts and feelings were duly lacking. I am not sure that I have them now, or whether this will go anywhere from the page that it is written on.

We are almost two weeks in to Covid-19 lockdown and I have asked myself a number  of questions:

  1. What has changed for me? 
  2. How am I dealing with these changes?
  3. Will these changes influence what I do in the future?

I initially thought that nothing has really changed for me, but I am not sure if this is true. I have always been happy in my own company and have been this way during many intermittent periods of adulthood. For the last 4 months I have lived alone, away from familiar surroundings, in a new town, adapting to change in many ways. I am living in an area and a street that I have always wanted to, but until lockdown felt it was not home and that it was a short term solution to where the hell I was going next. I moved here under difficult circumstances after a relationship break up, and up until the last 10 days felt trapped within, like a bird unable to fly, and blinkered to see what was around me. I would walk certain areas haunted and upset by the memories of walking there 12 months ago in completely different circumstances. Pre lockdown I would drive back to my previous town everyday, being drawn, not only by the beach, but because I considered it as home. I was craving to be back there, back where I lived, back in that life. Yet however hard I tried to look forward to a new future I couldn’t; maybe because it was because I kept returning. My drive to the beach would take me past my old apartment and home. Not once did I drive by and not think about whom and what I had lost. Sometimes I would pass twice a day, twice the pain. Not good for someone on the edge of fragility.

Lockdown has stopped me from going in my car, stopped me driving through my memory bank to the beach every day. It has forced me to look up and see what I have around me. I have Olly dog, I have to walk him as I have no garden. We have discovered new paths, new streets, new fields and new people. There are many more walks which we can venture to once parks re open, but for now, what we have is good. I am starting to see the same faces and whilst our dogs do dog things, I chat with the human(s) from a safe distance. I can often be found immersed in a podcast or audio book whilst chasing Olly and his ball. We have settled into a routine, and each day as we walk past the local shop he pulls me in to see the owner who gives him loads of attention and biscuits. It has become my shop for essentials.

I have found myself putting orders in online from the fruit and veg shop in the town, I have made visits to the local butchers and I cannot recall the last time I used a supermarket. I am finding all of this quite liberating and refreshing. I have been told to ‘slow down’ for many years and this has forced me in to it. I find that I am not rushing to swimming, or to a coffee shop, or to get across town to the beach, before getting home to do some study. I am going with the flow and getting everything done with time to spare. I feel less stressed and I feel more settled. Since the clocks went forward, I am also enjoying the late evening sunshine coming through my windows. I don’t feel boxed in anymore and I finally feel settled living where I do. I still do not know how long I will be here, I have seven weeks left on my contract. If I can stay I will.

That is not to say  I would not consider a move back to my old town, and yes of course I will frequent there when the restrictions are lifted. Both myself and Olly love the beach and our coffee shop there too much. The most significant change for me, has been not visiting my coffee shop (sometimes two) each day. My time of reading and reflection is now channeled elsewhere through audio and walking. Of course I miss my friends from running, my sausage Friday group, my Saturday breakfast crew and whatever runs or social events we got up to in the week. I had started to become quite sociable (laughing). Evidently grateful to the many people who have messaged me to check to see that I am ok. Also thankful to belong to a mad messaging group which keeps me entertained numerous times a day, in fact most of the day.

I am keeping busy, I have to. If I don’t, then my thoughts go back to happier times, I then think too much, dwell over stuff and that isn’t good. I have come a long way recently, helped and encouraged by my excellent therapist and friends. I am not the person I was, even two weeks ago. Slowing down, changing my routine and moving away from the known or habit has helped. There is still a big part of my life that aches, it will do for a while yet, I know that. 

I have a feeling that we will be under restrictions for some time to come yet. The biggest thing for me so far out of all of this is my new found ability to slow down and not to stress or worry about things that I cannot control. I am literally just going with things day by day. I will continue to shop local and make the most of what is on my doorstep. I am finally learning that simplicity is good. I even gave myself a haircut.

It would be interesting to hear if you will change anything in the future as a result of lockdown.

I still smile. I have to

Sunday 15th March 2020 (3.02pm)

This sums me up perfectly at the moment.

I’m sat in my usual coffee shop with Olly and feeling the need to write. Not sure why I feel so rubbish when things have been going so well lately. Maybe that is why, maybe I am not supposed to have a glimmer of happiness. Maybe I am not allowed to move on. Maybe meeting someone new wasn’t meant to be. Maybe it felt too right. Maybe this is how it’s going to be. Sadness and vulnerability overshadowing peace, happiness and joy. Hiding behind my cap, hiding behind Olly. Wanting to run, but bound by life. Needing to move away from here, but not knowing where. Stuck in my head, kicking and fighting, but at the moment, there is no way out.

Yet in the photo above I still smile. I have to x