10 in 10 Day Five- halfway through!!

Five marathons down and halfway through!!  Today was a bit of a weird one- after yesterday, I didn’t sleep brilliantly last night and wasn’t in a great mood when I woke up but I noticed on Facebook that it was a purple medal day and purple’s my favourite colour so made an effort to wear all purple (not too difficult given that 90% of my stuff is purple anyway plus I have purple hair and nails!) which definitely helped put me in a more positive frame of mind.  Wish everything was that simple!

I hadn’t had much to eat last night because of feeling rubbish and I was genuinely hungry this morning so I added cornflakes to my porridge (weird I know but it doesn’t seem as much as having extra porridge) and had some hot soya milk as well as coffee.  I actually felt reasonably with it at the start of the run which was nice considering how horrible the last two days have been and once the run started, I seemed to have a surprising amount of energy.

The first couple of laps went pretty quickly; I was listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and The Division Bell, and the extra food for breakfast really did seem to have helped.  By lap three, my mood had started to drop again and was having a lot of pretty unhelpful thoughts about eating extra and not needing it, not trying hard enough etc but I kept running and tried to build up enough time so that I could ease off in the second half.  I stuck to the cereal bar strategy again which *touch wood* seems to be working OK, and ran most of the race pretty much on autopilot.

The weirdest thing was that I didn’t really feel sore or overly exhausted which is strange considering it’s day five and days three and four were really tough.  Physically, I felt the best I have done all week although mentally my brain was all over the place and that was harder to manage.  By lap six, I’d switched to Harry Potter audiobooks which is my go-to brain numbing strategy and that really seemed to help.  I walked most of the last two laps but I’d got enough time to be able to, and I was surprised at how the run seemed relatively OK compared to the last couple of days.  Big relief and really hoping it lasts!!

It was really, really hot and I realised after the run how dehydrated I must have been- mega headache and felt so thirsty even though I’d been drinking squash all day so I walked to Morrisons and got some diet Irn Bru which was the most amazing thing ever!! Had a salad and cooked chicken for tea which didn’t seem like too much for once (I hate admitting it but I am actually starting to get hungry) and some melon which was equally amazing.  Am absolutely exhausted now though and a bit over-emotional so planning an early night and hopefully sleep…  Five down, five to go!

10 in 10 Day Four- bad day :(

Just a short post today, sorry, found it really hard again and haven’t got the energy to go into a lot of detail. Woke up feeling rubbish which didn’t help then really struggled to get going. First few laps were OK, plugged into Bowie and tried to keep moving but felt tired and drained really quickly and still feeling rubbish.

From lap five, I felt really horrible and kept wanting to cry for no particular reason. Had a few ‘cry breaks’ and seriously considered quitting but a running friend caught up with me during lap six and semi-dragged me round in time for the cut off. Laps seven and eight were mostly walking and felt really horrible, both mentally and physically drained, dizzy and nauseous.

After the race, I felt really horrible and had a total mood crash which wasn’t ideal because the psychiatrist I’m seeing at the moment chose that minute to call and see how things are going (not good!). So I’ve got an appointment with her as soon as I finish the runs :/ need to get my brain in gear by then. But this evening, a lovely running friend invited me out for a drink which was really nice of her and really needed to get out for the evening, even with crisis numbers from the psychiatrist I wasn’t feeling great so good to not be on my own. Still feeling rubbish and v tearful though :/ really hope tomorrow goes better!! Every day is a new day…

Day Three of the 10 in 10

Today was TOUGH.  Managed another marathon but I’m really not sure how many more I’m going to be able to do.  Weirdly it wasn’t the running itself that was the problem though- I woke up feeling rubbish and tired (no idea why; I’d slept OK) and found it really hard just to get my running stuff on, eat porridge and even get to the Cyclopark.  It was like I had no motivation at all and really couldn’t be bothered which was weird because it was sunny and everyone was being so lovely and supportive.

I can’t remember much of the start of the run but it must have gone OK, the sun was shining and there was a breeze so not too hot, and I was listening to a mix of Bowie live music.  On either the first or second lap (can’t remember!), I caught up with the guy I’ve run with on and off for the last few days and ran the next couple of laps with him which was really helpful motivation-wise and to keep pace up so that I didn’t have to stress for the last half of the marathon.  After lap four, I was really starting to struggle so he went ahead and I plugged back into Bowie in an attempt to keep moving.

The path kept spinning and I felt like I was literally forcing my body to move which wasn’t a lot of fun.  I was in a bit of a negative mindset- really not sure the runs are worth the extra stress of fuelling and trying to keep distracted from brain shit, but I kept reminding myself that it was definitely better than feeling rubbish at home which would be the alternative and at least while I was running, I was doing something relatively positive even if it didn’t feel like it.  I’m finding the food side of running really difficult though :/ a few people pointed out today that a few grapes each lap aren’t enough to fuel a marathon but I’d given up with the cereal bar strategy for today because I was feeling so shit about it, and it’s bloody hard having to actually eat real food every evening to fuel for the next day.  Feeling really rubbish about the whole thing atm and no idea how I’m going to manage another week of it.  Total mindfuck!

During lap seven, a lovely woman I’ve run with before caught up with me and it really helped chatting to her to distract from brain crap and just to catch up.  The end of the lap was a bit eventful- sudden rain and hailstorm out of nowhere and got absolutely soaked and bloody freezing!!  I was v v close to pulling out at the end of that lap because I was so cold but one of my awesome running friends who’d finished lent me his waterproof and went out again for the last lap- thanks to people who literally forced me back out!!  Thankfully the hail eased off and the sun came back out so had dried off a bit by the end of the run.

I’m still feeling a bit weird and rubbish about the whole thing :/ I know I should be happy to have run another marathon (and I’m sure on one level I am) and it’s so nice to people to keep being so encouraging but I’m also feeling really horrible and shit about everything at the same time which really isn’t helping.  I know I can’t not eat and expect to be able to run marathons every day but it’s so hard to know what’s the right amount and what foods to eat.  The woman I ran with today gave me some dextrose tablets to try tomorrow (only 12 calories each and they have electrolytes in them too) so will give that a go if I start to feel dizzy or spaced out, and keep going with porridge in the morning and something for tea.

Today I bought a salad from Morrisons for tea and added cooked chicken to it for protein which I think is OK, but the really horrible thing about eating more regularly is that you start to get hungry and I’m already finding it hard not to eat all my cereal bars in one go!  Feeling really greedy and yucky about it (don’t usually get hungry and it’s a headfuck feeling) but I know that marathons need fuel and protein helps to repair muscles.  Just wish it didn’t also feel like I’m going to have put on about ten stone by next week!  So bloody confusing but determined to keep trying with it…

10 in 10 Day Two!

Marathon number two complete!!  Honestly didn’t think I was going to manage even one so I still can’t quite believe I’ve run two so far, and even if I don’t manage another full one all week I’m mega happy with two!  Today was SO MUCH better than yesterday 🙂 I’d slept properly last night which really made a difference (ear plugs were definitely a good idea) and had porridge before the run, and I think the combination really, really helped both with how I was feeling in general and with the running itself.

I was a bit nervous about running again so I decided to wear my Hope24 T-shirt for good luck and to try to channel positive Hope vibes (Hope24 is my favourite ever race and have written blog posts about it before- Hope24: a 24 hour run in Newnham Park, Devon and Hope24 2017).  It kind of worked and was feeling a lot more positive than I have done recently which must have showed because several people commented that I seemed better than yesterday.  I’m focusing on one day at a time so just wanted to get through today, and I was really nervous about not making the cut off time for a marathon but once you’re at the start line and people are so lovely, it definitely helps you to feel less nervous.  I’m really lucky to know so many awesome running friends who are amazingly encouraging and supportive which really, really helped- you know who you are and THANK YOU!!

The first lap felt OK; I wasn’t running particularly fast but I was running which was a definite improvement on yesterday, and my body didn’t feel as much like lead as it had done.  It started off warm and sunny which was nice, not as oppressively hot as yesterday and there was a bit of a breeze then it started to cloud over.  I caught up with the friend who’d forced me to run a bit faster yesterday and he was amazing at motivating me and getting me to actually stick with the running which was definitely needed.  Anyone who knows Nick will know that he’s a pretty good person to run with when you’re really not feeling it- he doesn’t hold back and is v direct when you’re not trying hard enough or getting too distracted, and he’s definitely experienced enough at marathons to know what he’s talking about (he’s the current world record holder for most amount of marathons in a year and runs them pretty much every day; often more than one in a day- check out his Facebook page Chasing World Records) and he basically dragged me round the first four laps which meant I had enough time left to “fuck around” (Nick’s words) for the last few laps which was a relief because I was completely exhausted by that point.  But thanks to him, I stuck to the path instead of veering off to the sides, didn’t get *too* distracted by a cat wandering across the path and actually made up some time so thanks Nick!

Laps three and four weren’t a lot of fun :/ the clouds turned to rain and got absolutely soaked.  I’d left my waterproof in the car which wasn’t brilliantly organised of me and had to keep running just to stay warm.  The not-helpful part of my brain kept reminding me that you burn more calories when you’re trying to stay warm so it wasn’t a bad thing; Nick also reminded me that if you’re burning more calories then you need to consume more to finish the race and my brain went into a bit of a tailspin at that point!  But he was right- you can’t run ten marathons in ten days while not eating enough even if you’re not exercising, and I stuck to the same ‘cereal bar every two laps’ strategy that I’d used yesterday.  At the time, it was easier because I was flagging energy-wise and I knew I needed some fuel but finding it harder to justify now especially thinking of all the extra calories I’m going to have eaten by the time I finish the runs.  Found it hard to eat tea tonight- most places are closed on Sundays so I went to Subway and got a chicken salad but it was MASSIVE and felt a bit nauseous eating it.  I didn’t manage the porridge last night but I’ve got some soya milk which I’m going to try to drink before going to bed so I’ve got a bit more fuel for tomorrow.  Marathons are so much harder to fuel than ultras!

The rain eased off during lap five which was a relief and it was nice to start to dry off a bit.  I’d had some caffeine (via paracetamol) after lap four which really helped too and I slowed down a bit, and started to relax into the run a bit more.  I was listening to David Bowie’s Lazarus album which I love (the cast recording so it’s like a story) and the scenery was really nice in the sun.  Then about halfway round the lap, something amazing happened and I started to feel like I was actually real and with it for the first time in ages!  No idea why or what caused it but it was a massive relief- I’ve felt like an emotionally dead zombie pretty much constantly for the last few weeks and even though I still feel rubbish, I’m definitely feeling a lot less dissociated than I have been which is a big shift.  Really hoping it wasn’t just a one-off!

During lap six, I started running with a lovely woman who I hadn’t met before and we spent the last couple of laps running/walking and chatting which was really nice.  Finished well within the cut off time which was a big relief and was great to see more running friends at the end.  Definitely a better day than yesterday and so happy to have run another marathon!  Shower and bed time now ready for another go tomorrow, fingers crossed it’ll be another positive one…

10 marathons in 10 days…day one!

A while ago, I thought it would be a good challenge to try to run ten marathons in ten days during the summer holidays so I signed up and scarily it’s come round quicker than I thought!  I’ve never attempted 10 in 10 before so was a bit nervous at the time but it seemed like a good idea as I’ve done 7 in 7 before so it seemed like a logical step.  Which it would be if I was in the same mindset and physical condition as I was when I did the 7 in 7 a few years ago; unfortunately I’m really not at the moment which is adding an extra challenge on top of the actual running.

I haven’t been feeling great recently and have spent most of the summer holidays from school either lying on my bed feeling rubbish, trying to motivate to do something productive (and usually failing), watching Bad Girls on repeat or walking up and down the canal for hours just to get out the house so the idea of running a marathon every day for ten days seemed a bit overwhelming but I’m looking at it one day at a time and just focussing on getting through that.  Really is a big challenge and I really want to complete it- my running’s been rubbish recently and hadn’t managed a full marathon in over a month, and I want to prove to myself that I can still do it.  The other bonus is that the runs are in Kent which means being away for ten days- I’ve had to move back in with my parents for the moment which isn’t the best situation but not been feeling v safe on my own, and ten days away is definitely needed!!

Anyway, back to the running!  The whole event is really well organised- it’s eight laps of a cyclopark (so you can’t get lost) and starts at 9am every morning.  I was really nervous when I got there, partly because of the running but also v tired because I hadn’t had much sleep (staying in a v noisy B+B and it was freezing last night- had to double over the duvet to make it extra thick and wore running clothes under my pyjamas so didn’t really sleep much even with Zopiclone and piriton) but it was so nice to see and catch up with running friends before the start.  Then the run started and everyone ran at their own pace- I’m mega slow atm so was running on my own for most of it.

It was HARD.  The first couple of laps especially- I felt really stiff and heavy, like I was forcing my body to move and the heat didn’t help.  I don’t usually sweat but was literally dripping and must have been really dehydrated because I didn’t need to use the toilet all day (it’s nearly 8pm now and still haven’t needed it) even though I was drinking half a litre of water every lap and have had soup and two bottles of diet Coke since I finished.  No idea what was going on and really didn’t like it!  I realised quite quickly that lack of food wasn’t helping either- my diet’s been rubbish over the last few weeks, lots of bingeing (on fruit) but been feeling v nauseous and shaky most of the time so haven’t actually ‘eaten’ much outside of bingeing which seems to be impacting on running.  So I had a cereal bar after two laps which helped a bit, and managed to pick up enough speed to count as maybe jogging rather than semi-crawling round.

During lap three, a friend I’ve run with a few times before caught up with me and made me run a bit quicker which definitely helped the overall time- thank you!!  Had two laps of semi-running with him before he went off ahead, which meant I was closer to the cut off time although still pushing it.  Energy levels were dropping again so I had another cereal bar after four laps, and another at six.  Trying to justify it by the fact that my watch was telling me I burned 3000 calories during the run so an extra 100 every other lap shouldn’t make too much difference but I’m still feeling really guilty about it and like I should have just got on with it.  But it’s a really hard balance :/ I really do want to finish the runs and need the energy to do it but I’m terrified of gaining even more weight by being greedy and eating if I don’t need it- so bloody complicated!!  Have written about this before (Running your way to body tolerance… and Thoughts about ED recovery) and it still messes with my mind.  Sometimes I wish I was still a lazy teenager who only exercised in order to burn calories instead of wanting the actual exercise part!

The last few laps were horrible- still really hot and genuinely seemed to have run out of energy.  I only just made the cut off time for the marathon which was a relief to make it but bloody scary considering it’s only day one and have got nine more attempts to go!  Really need to get into the right mindset and focus :/ no idea how though.  I think actually getting there every day and taking part is as much of a challenge as the runs themselves atm- I’m literally having to force myself to move and actually do something but it’s definitely better than being at home feeling even more rubbish which is my main motivation.  Even if I don’t manage marathons every day, it’s still a positive just to run for six hours and more than I thought I’d be able to.  Wish the bloody endorphins would kick in though!  Sorry to anyone who had to deal with me today and thank you to everyone who was so encouraging- promise I’ll try to be less negative for the rest of the week.  You know you must look like shit when three separate people ask if you’re on the right combination of medications…!

Back at the B+B now, have had soup and going to try to have some porridge before I go to bed so I’ve *hopefully* got a bit more energy for the morning.  Still feeling shit about the cereal bars though so will see how it goes :/ a couple of people commented today that I need to eat to fuel the marathons and I’m trying to see it in the context of other people- lots of people running were eating sweets or crisps every lap and they didn’t look any different afterwards (and still looked way thinner than I do atm!), and they needed it for the fuel.  Will definitely have porridge tomorrow morning and see if it makes any difference.  Bought some earplugs after the run and really hoping for a better night’s sleep tonight!  Fingers crossed tomorrow will be a bit easier…

Another weirdly positive psychiatrist appointment!

Sorry if this blog post doesn’t make a lot of sense- am currently feeling overwhelmed and totally exhausted but wanted to try to get some thoughts down before it all turns to mush!  I had an assessment today at the eating disorder service where I was inpatient from 2005-2007 and outpatient until 2010 which I was really, really nervous about beforehand but actually went surprisingly well.  Trying to get my brain into some sort of sense atm so if it seems a bit jumbled, I’m really sorry!  Haven’t been feeling great over the last few weeks and have had a lot of negatives thoughts/urges which have been really hard not to act on and my brain is pretty much total fuzz most of the time.

Was so, so nervous before the assessment- apart from visiting a friend a few months ago (which was also really weird and I found hard to deal with), I haven’t been back to the unit for nearly 10 years and it felt really strange going there this morning.  I was also extra-nervous because I’ve had a lot of contact with doctors over the last couple of weeks  because of feeling rubbish and spent a night in A+E last week which the doctor said he would pass on to the psychiatrist so I was a bit worried about what sort of impression I was going to make.

I decided to walk into town (about an hour and a half) in the hope that I’d calm down a bit before getting there but was still really shaky and feeling sick by the time I got there.  It took three loops of the road to actually get to the door and my brain was completely fuzzy by then- when I was filling in the forms in the waiting room, I kept getting spellings wrong including my own name!  Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long and the psychiatrist took me to a room which I’d thankfully not been in before because I think that would have been way too weird.

It was a new psychiatrist who I hadn’t seen before but I’d heard about him from a friend who also sees him, and he was really nice.  He had my notes from last time which was a big relief because I didn’t have to start totally from scratch, and he actually seemed to listen when I was answering the questions.  The initial assessment took nearly two hours then had to go for ECG and blood tests, then back for physical obs and a chat about the outcome of the assessment- LONG day and was absolutely exhausted afterwards but hopefully worth it.

The assessment was really, really thorough and so different to ED assessments I’ve had before.  He didn’t give me any screening questionnaires or quizzes to fill it (which was a definite relief because I HATE them and usually end up annotating them so I don’t come across as completely hopeless) and just asked lots of questions.  It wasn’t all about ED thoughts/behaviours either which was another big relief because most of what I’ve been struggling with recently is more mood-related and negative urges, and he kind of linked everything together which again was really positive compared to the really frustrating ‘boxes’ approach that I’ve experienced a million times before where ED doctors only talk about ED symptoms and other psychiatrists won’t talk about ED-related issues and usually I’d just get told that it’s all autism-related anyway.  But it wasn’t like that at all and he even seemed to ‘get’ what I was trying to say when I couldn’t find the right words to describe it!

ECG and blood tests went OK- my veins are rubbish so as usual, it took several tries, butterfly needles and dizziness before actually getting any blood but for once I didn’t faint which was a big relief!  Then back over the the unit for physical obs.  The results of the ECG were slightly abnormal so I have to go back for a ‘heart echo’ and have 24 hours wearing a heart strap which I’m a bit nervous about but my ECGs are often a bit weird so wasn’t too worried about it.  Physical obs were fine; I get a bit nervous about people being that close to my body and it must have showed because the doctor started talking about random stuff to distract me and it turns out he used to watch Bad Girls which is the TV show I’ve been obsessed with since I was 13 and is currently the only thing that seems to work to distract from negative urges!

After the physical checks, I had to see the psychiatrist who assessed me along with the consultant to discuss the outcomes.  Looking at it at first, it wasn’t anything earth-shatteringly different from what I’ve had before but the wording IS different which completely changes my treatment plan which is kind of a big deal.  He gave me a formal diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and atypical anorexia, and said that he is going to refer me to a dietician and for dialectical behaviour therapy.  The main difference is that he thinks the ED is part of the “bigger picture” of BPD whereas before, ED and autism have always been the ‘main issues’.  I’ve had BPD mentioned several times before (most recently at another relatively positive psychiatrist assessment: Positive psychiatrist appointments actually exist!!) but always as ‘traits’ instead of a formal diagnosis.  Having an diagnosis of it as the primary issue means that I can actually get specialised treatment for it which is a MASSIVE relief because for me, it’s the extreme moods, fixations on people, paranoia and suicidal thoughts/urges which are the hardest to deal with and I really do want help to learn to manage them.

I’m still trying to process it properly and am feeling v overwhelmed at the moment- overall, it took nearly 5 hours and was completely exhausted afterwards, but feeling strangely positive about it and especially about being able to access dietician support and DBT.  Even though my weight’s ‘normal’ thanks to medication side effects, I still find it hard to vary my diet outside of porridge and soup, binge on fruit most nights and can’t eat in front of people or outside of ‘set’ times which I really, really want to work on.  I’ve been teaching myself DBT skills for years now but it’s really hard to put in into practice on your own and I’m really hoping that being able to access it properly will help.

I fell asleep as soon as I got in from the assessment because I was so exhausted after it but this evening has been the first time in weeks that I’ve actually felt motivated enough to do something other than watch Bad Girls (again) or just lie on my bed feeling rubbish which has been most of my summer holidays so far.  So I’ve actually written a whole blog post (!), semi-cleaned my kitchen and going to try to stay up till at least 10pm instead of taking sleeping tablets so I can go to bed at 8pm which is what I’ve been doing over the last few weeks because evenings have been horrible and so hard to deal with.  Trying to keep hold of the positive feelings and really hoping it’ll last…!

Enduroman Run to Max- my first ever 48 hour race!!

Last weekend, I took part in an event called Enduroman Run to the Max which was my first ever 48 hour event.  WOW!  The whole atmosphere was amazing- there were people running everything from a half marathon to continuous triple Ironman and it was amazing to meet so many awesome people.  I was a bit nervous before the event- I’d never run more than 100 miles before or longer than 36 hours and it seemed a big jump but was also was massively excited to give it a try.  And I absolutely LOVED it!!  Such an amazing experience and didn’t seem like 48 hours at all.  Genuinely enjoyed nearly every minute of it and can’t wait to try another 48 hour event.  And amazingly, came second overall and first female!!  No idea how that happened but seriously was the most amazing event I’ve run in a really long time and loved (nearly) every second.

It was a lapped race which meant that straightaway, there was no chance of getting lost which was a massive relief and took out a lot of the stress.  Each lap was 1.1 miles which I thought was going to be really difficult mentally to manage the same mile over and over but the course was so varied (and hilly!) that it seemed like WAY longer than a mile and probably was given the elevation- 100ft per mile which worked out to 12 000 feet over the whole weekend: nearly three times Ben Nevis!  Scenery was seriously awesome though and definitely worth the extra effort.

I drove down to the New Forest after work and arrived about 8pm.  I started running pretty much straightaway so I could get a few laps in daylight before needing a headtorch.  It was raining lightly but not too bad, and felt really nice to be running on trails again.  The first part of the lap was mostly downhill then gentle undulating trail before the mega hills in the last part of the lap which seemed to get steeper every time!  The first part was like running through a rainforest though and really enjoyed it, so beautiful and natural.  Then it opened up into some tall trees and around the lake before up into woods again and back to the start.  Challenging but beautiful!

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The first few hours passed pretty quickly- was chatting to a few people on the route and listened to David Bowie for most of the first night, working my way through most of his early albums from Space Oddity to Heroes.  Felt really chilled and relaxed, and really helped to get into the rhythm of the run.  I didn’t really have a plan for sleep or fuelling (bad mistake I know!) and decided to see how I felt.  I didn’t feel tired at all so didn’t need to have a rest and had a couple of cereal bars to keep going.  At 20 miles, I stopped for coffee and porridge which became a 20 mile ritual that I really looked forward to by the end of the race!

It rained pretty much constantly for the first night but eased off a bit by dawn.  It was surprisingly mild though and didn’t need a jacket which was weird for me, I’m usually freezing!  It was a relief when it started to get light though and I love the feeling of running into a new day.  The rain had meant that the forest felt damp and Narnia-like which was awesome to run through although I wasn’t a fan of the midges!!  I’d moved on from Bowie to Alanis Morissette by this point and spent the next few hours working my way through all of her albums from Jagged Little Pill to havoc and bright lights.  It felt a bit surreal- it was like I’d grown with Alanis through most of her albums and was feeling a bit weird by the end so switched to Harry Potter audiobooks to reset a bit.

At 40 miles, I stopped again for coffee and porridge before heading back out.  The sun came out for a bit in the afternoon which was nice to dry off and heat up again, and Saturday passed pretty uneventfully.  I still didn’t feel tired so carried on running, and it was really cool to watch the Ironman swimmers in the lake.  Massive kudos for outdoor swimming in the morning rain!  Can’t really say much about Saturday because to be honest, the whole weekend is a bit of a blur but I know I enjoyed it and definitely listened to Blackadder Goes Forth on audiobook which made me laugh A LOT and was a definite boost.  The other completely unexpected boost came from my dad who appeared randomly with six cans of diet Coke!  Which were definitely needed towards the end of the race…  I realised by 9pm that I’d been running over 24 hours so should probably take a rest so I had a quick ‘nap’ for about an hour, didn’t sleep much of it but good to lie down.  My legs started to get sore when I got up again so had some paracetamol, more coffee and porridge then headtorch on and back out.  I was freezing and already wearing layers so a lovely woman called Karen lent me her coat for the night which really, really helped along with several pairs of gloves!

The second night was a bit more surreal and creepy.  The rain had left a lot of fog which was hard to run through in the dark because the light from the headtorch kept bouncing off it.  It was also a lot quieter on the trail- most people seemed to be sleeping in the night section so hardly saw anyone out on the course.  I did get a bit scared but a couple of awesome friends were keeping in touch via text which really, really helped.  And once I’d got more used to the dark, fog and creepy trees which was bit Blair Witch-like, it was kind of beautiful with the full moon and no clouds.  Was definitely relieved when the sun came up again though!

I’d nearly finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by the morning and was relieved that the creepy cave scene happened when it was light instead of running in the dark!  Stopped again for more coffee and porridge, and kept running.  Nothing massively exciting to write about except that I was still really enjoying it and feeling more relaxed and calm than I have done in literally months.  My brain was quiet for once, no anxiety at all and mood felt pretty stable.  Whatever chemicals the brain releases in an ultra need to be bottled into medication, it’s bloody awesome!!  Works a million times better than any medication combination I’ve tried.

Finally reached 100 miles at about midday which was a massive achievement since it was the furthest I’d ever run and the terrain was seriously tough to run.  I stopped for coffee and porridge (with peanut butter this time!) and it felt very weird to carry on running past 100!  I realised I only had a few hours left which felt really surreal and kind of sad because I was still loving the whole experience and didn’t want it to end.  By 44 hours though, the lack of sleep started to kick in and the trees around me started to move slowly and strangely, and there was lava creeping over the path.  The toilet block was also moving and the ground kept coming up towards me.  I took another break at the end of that lap and lay down for half a hour which really helped and the world went back to ‘normal’, or as normal as it can be when you’ve been running 44 hours straight!

I finished finally about 8pm after 110 laps- 121 miles!!!!  Officially the furthest I have ever run and considering how tough the terrain was, I’m seeing it as a MASSIVE achievement.  And not just the running- I was careful about remembering to fuel every few miles (porridge every 20 miles without skipping any, and cereal bars or peanut butter in between), took medication while running (including aripiprazole although I only had a smaller amount of quetiapine), chatted to lots of awesome people and had a genuinely amazing time.  And, incredibly, I came second overall and was first female!!  No idea how that happened but it was such an amazing weekend 😀 thank you so much to everyone at Enduroman for organising such an incredible event and can’t wait to run it again next year!!

Positive psychiatrist appointments actually exist!!

This is a bit of a random post because it’s not based around any particular ‘theme’ or event (although to be honest, not many of my recent posts have been!) but thought it was worth a blog post anyway because for me, it’s pretty massively significant. On Monday, I had an assessment appointment with a new psychiatrist which I was really nervous about and not expecting much from it (usually I just get told that because of autism, they can’t help). Amazingly, it was a weirdly positive appointment!! She was very direct and honest which I need, and ridiculously thorough to the point that the appointment took nearly two hours and she’s making another one to finish it off.

The most amazing thing was that she actually didn’t just write everything off as autism- she thinks that personality traits (specifically ’emotionally unstable personality disorder’ AKA borderline personality disorder) are more of an issue at the moment and wants me to read up about it more before the next appointment. AND she’s willing to actually work with me on it!! WOW. Have been reading about it and literally it’s like someone read my brain. So weird and amazing to read about other people experiencing the same sort of thing and to have an actual, real ‘reason’ for feeling the way I do.

This book in particular is amazing:

It’s a really detailed and well-written ‘guide’ to BPD and writes in detail about all the different symptoms, thought processes and behaviours without judging or sounding overly negative or stigmatised about it which a lot of the articles I’ve read have been. It actually made me cry to read it because it made so much bloody sense. Even obsessions, being too ‘intense’ and issues with keeping friendships! I could literally quote half the book in this post but am going to focus on a few pages that I found really, really useful.

This page is incredible. It sort of links to something a friend said to me a while ago that you can’t ‘get rid’ of obsessions or extreme emotions, you just need to learn to manage them and this book explains it in such an amazingly positive way. And it even says that learning to manage the intense feelings will eventually mean that they are less intense which would be an absolute miracle!! Having had 19 years of feeling like I’m never going to be able to deal with it, it really seems like an unreachable goal but definitely one I’m willing to work bloody hard to achieve. Honestly, if I ever manage to be able to deal with intense feelings and obsessions, I think my life would be relatively good and I’d be ‘normal'(ish). New life goal!!

There’s even an actual link to eating disorders in the book! And the really amazing thing about it is that I can totally relate to how it links BPD and ED, much more than I can relate to most ED-specific books or articles. For me, it’s always been about managing extreme emotions and obsessions- low enough weights actually stop them completely which was why I was desperate as a teenager to lose weight. The main reason I binge isn’t for the actual ‘binge’ part; it’s because throwing up helps to shift the intense vertigo-y vacuum inside my stomach. Apart from exercise, that’s the only thing that actually helps with it and gives me a sense of relative calm.

Similar to above, restricting your diet can make you feel calmer and more in control. I can relate absolutely to this page and although i know it’s stereotypical ‘ED’ to be about control, mine has always been more about not eating certain foods or food groups than the weight itself. That came later and only because I realised it stopped intense feelings and obsessions.

The hardest part of the whole autism/BPD mix for me is making, keeping and managing social relationships. I lose A LOT of friends from being too ‘intense’ and I’m constantly scared that people are annoyed or upset with me, find me too annoying, boring or clingy, or don’t want to be friends with me any more. It’s bloody hard not to keep texting friends to check and I used to do that a lot, which would lead to friends asking me not to contact them any more. Now, I’m a lot more aware of it and it really is a relief to read that other people experience the exact same thing and I’m not just a paranoid, intense, horrible person. I can also relate to wanting to just give up on friendships completely but the intense loneliness is too hard to deal with. Makes you feel like you’re trapped in a cycle of paranoia and loneliness that you can’t escape from. But this book says that this is one of the symptoms which you can learn to manage through DBT and awareness which seems too good to be true but am DEFINITELY willing to try…

The last page I’m going to talk about is about self harm. When I read this, I had to re-read it because it described exactly the thoughts and urges I experience on a regular basis. It honestly is an intense self-directed anger and hatred that makes you want to literally scrape your skin off and rip out your flesh which gets channelled into cutting or hitting depending on the situation. When it’s overly intense, it can get to the point where you want to disappear or not exist which can lead to (for me anyway) overdose of medication but I always end up throwing it up ten minutes later because I don’t actually want to ‘die’, just not exist or more specifically, for the intense feelings to not exist. It’s like wanting to kill a very specific part of you (I’ve been calling her ‘borderline bitch’) which I hate and would do anything to get rid of.

The other really positive aspect of the appointment is that I’m changing medication!! Coming of quetiapine which has caused horrible side effects and increasing aripiprazole to make up for it. Really, really hoping it helps!! Anyway, would DEFINITELY recommend this book to anyone who has, knows anyone who has or is interested in BPD/EUPD- it’s an incredible book 🙂

Insomnia: an atypical glose

“into that world inverted

where left is always right,

where the shadows are really the body,

where we stay awake all night” – ‘Insomnia’ by Elizabeth Bishop

You know that feeling right before you fall asleep,

when liquid time floats your body in drifting

seas of semi-conscious paradigm

into that world inverted

by the senses? A mirror world where hours slow and quicken,

the mind loose and mutable as water.

A space where the mind’s eye is blind,

where left is always right

and everything’s identical qualitatively

but reverse like light through a pinhole.

The self does not matter or maybe too much,

where the shadows are really the body

and you’re there/not-there all at once.

A too-fast mind scattering thoughts like bright stars

through vertiginous skies. Brain interprets, distorts,

where we stay awake all night.

Explanations and Anxiety

Seem to spend way too many posts apologising for not writing recently!  But yeah, it’s another apology post…sorry!!  Haven’t been feeling great again recently and got ridiculously intense anxiety at the moment which is HORRIBLE and getting in the way of basically everything.  Kind of a long story and won’t go into too much detail but in brief: went to GP, got prescribed lorazepam (on top of sertraline, quetiapine and aripiprazole) and it really didn’t agree with me, was hallucinating and losing hours at a time with no memory which isn’t great when you work in a school, back to GP and got signed off work for a week to stabilise, having pretty major anxieties at school and panic attacks so not in lessons at the moment and doing lots of office-based work instead.  Not fun and genuinely the worst anxiety I’ve ever had.  No idea what’s triggering it but it’s horrible.

I’m trying to see it as Voldemort entering my mind again which for me is the only way really I can make sense of it.  I wrote about this a while ago in Occlumency but basically I try to imagine the negative thoughts and horrible urges as Voldemort planting thoughts in my brain like he does with Harry in Order of the Phoenix, and it’s not actually ‘me’.  Which would be a massive relief because I hate this part of me SO MUCH but I’ve recently lost some very close friends by being too negative and self-critical so I can’t even bloody hate myself properly because of it which is making me feel horrible and trapped. But anyway, back to Occlumency…

I’m trying to focus on the idea that the thoughts aren’t actually ‘me’ which should (in theory) make me feel less guilty about them and be able to challenge them more easily.  I’m really not there yet but that’s the aim, and then I can start to ‘close my mind’ to them the same way that Harry tries to with Occlumency and the mental exhaustion he feels is definitely something I can relate to.

I know this isn’t the most interesting or groundbreaking post; I’m genuinely feeling rubbish and shaky pretty much constantly atm and EVERYTHING is making me cry or have a mini meltdown so I’m kind of impressed it sort of makes sense at all!  Will try to write more detailed posts when my brain is less fuzzy and jittery…