**please refer to blog ‘Supporting others’**
So far we have looked at connecting with the outdoors, connecting with movement and connecting with self. The last in this series looks at the importance of connecting with others. Something which I am totally rubbish at, but I am getting better at.
The value of having a good support network around you cannot be underestimated. That one person who you know you can turn to day or night, who will be there to listen to your ramblings, pick you up from the floor, give some words of advice or even just say nothing could one day save your life. I am so grateful to have a few special people who I can put into this category. People who understand me, people who I have connected with over the years, but then at times pushed away and not spoken to. True friends who were there before I got ill and still stand by my side today. These are the same friends who I would avoid texts and phone calls from. The same friends who I would let down after arranging to meet for me to then say I didn’t want to. These friends certainly deserve a medal.
I am also supported by the new friends I have made over the last three years. Friends who I have met through running, dog walking or social media. Friends who didn’t know me as the police officer in uniform, or the Detective Sergeant in plain clothes. These friends know me as me and not the identity and the badge which I used to hide behind. That was a different me, that was a me who was so obsessed about having a successful career with an ambition to climb the ranks of a job I loved. That was a me, who 3 years ago (4th April 2016) went sick, exhausted from life and work, who could no longer carry on.
What I have found since being off is that my circle of friends has changed. Some who I thought would be there were not, some who I had not spoken to for years or hardly ever were right there, offering up their support and opening up to me. I will remember everyone who has connected with me with their kind words pushing me in the right direction. Thank you x.
The same goes for family, admittedly, it took me a long time to tell mine what exactly was going on. This was because I did not want to worry anyone, and I tended to deal with things in my own way and in my own time. It was when I started to talk to the TV cameras for Mind over Marathon about how bad things were that encouraged me to finally be honest. I knew that my life would go out on prime time TV, so this gave me the push to tell my parents what had been going on.
I understand that some of you may not have the support network of the family and friends which I have, but support for me has also come from different directions. I have met people through therapy groups such as Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation Therapy. People who get what it is like to live with such struggles. I have met some amazing people through this blog, twitter and instagram. So many of which have taken the time to connect with me to send me messages of support. I still cannot believe that people take the time to do this, to actually write to me. You lot truly are amazing.
I have also connected with the majority of health professionals who I have come into contact with and I cannot thank my GP enough for what she has had to put up with over the last few years. My GP has literally seen every side of me, from the petulant child or stroppy teenager, to the professional, rational, articulate me. Being able to connect and engage with your health team is so important as you get to understand what is and what is not achievable against your expectations. It also gives you the confidence to say things exactly how it is. There is no point saying all is fine if it isn’t. If your life is shit, then say, that is what they are there for. I am sure my GP has wanted to knock me out on more than one occasion for the way I have been though 🙂
The more you connect with people, the more you will feel able to talk. Talking about your thoughts and feelings is not a sign of weakness, it is more than that. Talking is a powerful tool which enables you to take charge of what is going on in your life. Own how you feel and don’t be afraid to let others know. I never wanted to tell people as I did not want to burden them or bore them with my life. Why should they be interested in me and how I feel? Trust me, people do care, they are interested and by talking you certainly are not burdening anyone. It took me a while to understand this.
Sometimes I cannot describe how I am feeling as it is just a jumbled mess. More often than not my head is so busy it is difficult to get it out in any sort of order for it to make sense. This does not matter, just get it out. This is where the writing really helps me. Words on a page, in bubbles, lists or spider diagrams help many of you to connect with your own thoughts and feelings. Seeing it on paper gives you ownership of it. It gives you the power to do something about it. If you find it hard to verbalise, then show this to friends, family or health professionals.
What you have said
‘I went 6 months without wanting to see a single friend, I did my best to avoid phone calls text messages, and meeting up. I could not plan, I didn’t want to be around anyone. I did not want to talk. I felt that I had to message now and again to say that I was still alive, but I only did this when they threatened to bosh my door in. I can see now how bad I was at maintaining contact. These days I am much better at meeting for a catch up hot chocolate, and now understand how important it is to keep connected to friends’ (Me).
‘Me and my friend meet for lunch on a weekly basis. She knows I have been going through a tough time, she does not judge me, instead she takes time to listen. Though I may not want to meet, afterwards, I am always glad that I did’.
‘I found that by being open and talking, people opened up to me. This has extended my support network’.
‘I joined a cycling group, meeting other people who enjoy what I do helps me. I am building my confidence to speak out’.
My closing words of (non) wisdom are look out for one another, if you are struggling, connect with those around you. If you are not, then look out for your friends, check out any behaviour changes and don’t be afraid to ask if they are ok and don’t be afraid to dig that bit deeper if need be.
I hope you enjoyed this series and I am grateful to those who reached out and connected with me with their own experiences. The offer is always there is anyone wants their story on my blog. This is a community and not just about me.
Please reach out if you are suffering. The telephone numbers and people are out there xx