Hope 24 2021

I’m so sorry I haven’t blogged in ages! Been having a lot of sleep and energy issues recently and sleeping more than I’m awake, and haven’t had the motivation to do much writing. I’ve started a few posts and not finished them, and I really am going to try to keep up with blogging more…

Last weekend was Hope24, which is my favourite running event of the year. It takes place in Newnham Park near Plymouth and it’s all trail running, across a field and through woods and it’s so scenic. Every lap is five miles and you can set a tent up near the start/finish line to keep food etc, or to have a sleep. The atmosphere is amazing and the organisers are incredible. Such an awesome event!

I was a bit nervous going into the run because I haven’t been running much recently as I’ve been sleeping so much and had no energy. I’d also run London to Brighton a few weeks ago which was horrible- so, so hard both mentally and physically and I wasn’t sure another ultramarathon was a good idea. But I love Hope and didn’t want to miss my favourite race so I went ahead with it. I made sure I had lots of sleep the night before and stocked up on electrolyte tablets with caffeine to try to stay awake during the run!

The first lap wasn’t too eventful but was HARD. I genuinely think my body has forgotten how to run- even when I try to make running movements, it’s like forcing my body through sludge and I’m slower than if I were walking. At the end of the first lap, a guy I know asked why I wasn’t running and my reply was “I am!”; my running speed was so, so slow and I couldn’t go any faster. London to Brighton was the same and it’s so frustrating to consistently get overtaken by walkers. But I was determined to run as much as I could however slowly I was going.

Mentally, the race was really, really tough. I’m having a lot of issues with obsessive and distressing thoughts at the moment and it was really hard to distract from them. I tried everything I could think of- DBT skills like observing and describing my surroundings, turning the mind, radical acceptance (which I still can’t get my head around and which I’m planning a blog post about), half smiling, thought blocking, imagining thoughts on a conveyor belt, thinking of thoughts as firings of the brain… I even tried listening to Blackadder in the hope that laughing would help! But nothing seemed to make any difference, and it got worse as the race went on.

The scenery was amazing though and describing it (out loud) did help to distract a bit even though the thoughts came back as soon as I stopped. The route was so nice- up a hill and through some trees, over a field and up another hill, a long downhill through the woods then up the other side. No bluebells this time of year but there were foxgloves and thistles.

After 20 miles, I stopped for a coffee break as well as the caffeine tablets because I was starting to get really tired by that point. Had a cereal bar and a ten minute rest, then back to the running. I had a ‘photography lap’ where I took some more photos then it started to rain so I had to put my phone away.

By the evening, I was completely exhausted and finding the obsessive thoughts really, really hard to manage. I was also feeling upset and angry which didn’t help, and having a lot of negative urges. It had also started to rain which got heavier as the night went on, and by midnight the trail had turned to rivers of mud and it was really hard to run without falling over, especially when you’re already totally distracted and feeling horrible. At about 1am, I stopped to get more coffee and some food, and waited for the rain to ease off which ended up being two hours later by which time I’d tried to quit then asked for my timing chip back!

At 3am, the rain was more drizzly than deluge so I headed back out again. To be honest, I can’t remember much of the night apart from feeling really upset, crying a lot and lots of obsessive thoughts. When it got light, the rain was on and off which, along with the light, helped a bit but by 7am I couldn’t deal with the thoughts any more and decided to stop. It was the right decision, I think- I was so tired I couldn’t see straight and things were moving that shouldn’t be, and I felt horrible. So I handed my timing chip in and got my medal.

Once I got back to the B+B, I slept all day until 6.30pm, briefly tried to watch the F1 but fell asleep partway through and slept till 6am the next morning. Drove home and had DBT, then fell asleep again for the rest of the day! So I think it really was the right decision to stop. I feel rubbish about it though :/ it’s the first time I haven’t finished a 24 hour race and I feel like I should have been able to complete it. But I’ve realised that the people who keep telling me that I’m not well enough for ultrarunning are right- physically I don’t have the energy and mentally I can’t deal with the extended thinking time. But it’s yet another reason to fully commit to DBT and trying to recover!

Thoughts on social distancing and isolation

I’m so sorry I haven’t written in so long; I took the blog offline for a while because I got a bit paranoid about people reading it and became completely convinced people I knew were reading it even though I hadn’t shared it with them.  I’ve since changed the domain name and *hopefully* if anyone was, then they won’t be able to find it now but I don’t know how they would have found it anyway and tbh, it was probably just me being over-paranoid anyway!

SO…back to blogging.  I’ve really missed it; it’s one of the only ways I can try to actually make sense of my brain in a way that other people can understand and maybe relate to, and I miss that connection.  Which is especially true now we’re in the middle of social distancing and self isolation!  It’s a weird and disconcerting time for everyone and I’m swinging between being kind of relieved that for once it’s not just me feeling lonely, anxious and guilty all the time but then feeling really guilty for thinking that and just generally overwhelmed by the whole situation- again, like most of the world!

It’s weird that in one sense, not much has really changed- I was signed off work for two weeks before lockdown started anyway and it’s not like I had a particularly active social life (or even one at all).  But I had school and it was the hope of going back to school that had kept me going while I was signed off, and the idea of schools closing before I could go back felt really horrible and disorientating.  I know that a massive proportion of the country are feeling similar with schools closed and exams cancelled, teachers are feeling disorientated and kids are stuck without the structure of school, and for many Year 11s and Year 13s, they didn’t even get a chance to ‘leave’ school properly.  So in the context of that, how I’m feeling really doesn’t even compare to how a lot of people will be feeling at the moment but for me, it was the loss of hope and possibility of structure, purpose and social contact that really got to me the most.  And it’s still so, so hard to deal with.  I’ve set up a website of fun activities, quizzes and puzzles for kids off school to try to keep them entertained and I’m updating it every day but it still doesn’t feel ‘real’ or like there’s any actual point to it.  Trying to focus on it as a distraction and purpose but it’s hard when I don’t know if any kids are actually using it!  It’s Purple Jedi Activities if anyone’s interested ūüôā

It’s hard to work out what’s going on at the moment because before coronavirus took over the news and lockdown started, I was already having issues with medication, mood swings, anxiety and paranoia and the current situation really hasn’t helped.  It’s been going on for months- I started to feel rubbish again just before Christmas and it got progressively worse up till February when I kind of hit a massive low and just felt horrible, guilty and lonely all the time but so much that it hurt.  I had a couple of overdose attempts (which I’m rubbish at anyway- both times I panicked afterwards, tried to throw up, felt ill later and went to A+E) and have been having a lot of issues with mental health services recently because I “make people anxious” and it’s a “barrier to treatment” but I honestly don’t mean to and it’s making me feel so shit and trapped.  Long story; I ended up increasing medication to the point when I felt genuinely stoned and spun out all the time which wasn’t safe, was signed off work and have been trying to get the right balance of medication since then.  Currently on a mix of vortioxetine, quetiapine, pregabalin, lorazepam and zopiclone and trying to find the right amounts of each one so that I’m not too hyped, panicky or suicidal but can also function relatively OK day-to-day.  Really tough!!

But anyway, that’s just background :/ I think even without the Covid-19 situation, I’d be a bit all over the place atm but now it’s like the world has honestly gone nuts.  And for once it’s not just me!  It’s crazy to realise it’s a global issue and that the majority of the world is feeling scared, overwhelmed and anxious atm which is weirdly reassuring as well as a bit scary in itself.  For me, the hardest parts are the lack of structure which leads to feeling chaotic, ‘vertigo-y’ and like there’s no point, and the isolation which leads to intense loneliness and feeling cut off from everything.

One of the things I really struggle with is the idea that people will totally forget I exist if they don’t see me, and it’s so so hard not to keep contacting people I care about all the time to check.  And it’s SO BLOODY LONELY isolating on your own and not knowing when you can see a real person again.  I’m not a physical contact-type person but right now, I could really, really use a hug and I need it so much it actually hurts- my whole body is physically aching and tingling with anxiety and loneliness. And that must be a million times harder for people who are used to physical affection!

I realised recently that one of the main criteria for diagnosis of BPD is ‘fear of abandonment’ and being isolated on your own feeds into it- it really does feel like you’ve been abandoned by everyone and everything and I’m having to keep reminding myself that it’s a global situation and not just ‘me’- support groups stopped because they had to with social isolation not because they didn’t want me in the group, I’m not on the school rota v often because they’re limiting staff in school not because they don’t want me in, people aren’t messaging back because they’re overwhelmed and scared like everyone atm or busy with other things not because they hate me, social distancing was not introduced because I’m too intense and people need a break from me! I know it sounds over-dramatic, self-centred and ridiculous (which it is) and I know that rationally but it feeds into the main idea that people just don’t want you around which still really hurts and makes you feel rubbish.

One of the other criteria for BPD is ‘chronic feelings of emptiness’ which I’ve always referred to as ‘vertigo’ and it’s so, so intense at the moment without any real purpose or connection.  For me, that’s the part that leads to pretty much constant suicidal thoughts because there really is no point and I’m so scared people I’m close to will forget about me, and it’s so hard to manage.  But I can’t act on any of it atm anyway because I don’t want to put any extra pressure on the NHS by having to go to A+E so feeling really trapped and rubbish.  Which I’m trying to channel into more positive distraction but is leading to a lot of negative behaviours which I hate but tbh if it means I’m not overdosing or ending up in A+E then it’s not the end of the world.

The other overwhelming feeling atm is guilt.  Which tbh isn’t just atm- I feel guilty A LOT of the time anyway but it’s constant now and literally taking over most other feelings.  Part of it is justified- I know I can be too intense and needy and although I really try to manage it and not keep contacting people, I am still ‘too much’ when I talk to people because I honestly am feeling so horrible so much of the time and it’s hard not to let that show.  But I keep apologising and trying to let people have the choice if they let me contact them or not, but I still feel shit for being like this in the first place.  I really am trying to change it- I’m doing a lot of online courses in Food and Nutrition, Health and Social Care and some self-help courses for BPD which challenge viewpoints and behaviours but it seems to be taking a really long time to see any change at all which is frustrating and I just wanted to be a nicer, less draining person.  But at least one positive to social distancing is that people don’t have to put up with me in person any more!

One of the other issues I’m finding hard (and links to guilt) is feeling like everything is my fault.  This is something I’m challenging a lot atm- I know rationally that I am not all-powerful and I definitely didn’t start coronavirus or create the crisis that the world is in at the moment, but I still feel really, really guilty that people are dying all over the world and it feels like I should be doing more to stop it.  I’ve signed up for NHS volunteers and for social care volunteering but haven’t heard back yet, and I’m aware I’m a drain on NHS resources even without Covid-19 pressure which makes me feel really guilty.  I’ve been in touch with CMHT, ED services and the crisis team a lot over the last few weeks because I genuinely don’t feel safe in the house on my own, partly because of intense suicidal thoughts pretty much every night, partly because of medications making me feel stoned or spun out and partly because I’m still getting occasional extreme mood swings which can make me really impulsive.  But they can’t do much atm- they’re not admitting any new inpatients because of the pandemic and all they can really suggest is to keep a mood diary, have a crisis plan and take lorazepam which I’m doing but it still doesn’t feel safe a lot of the time.  But I’m still trying!!

The last issue I’m going to talk about here is the idea of feeling chaotic, out of control and scared which for me, is a big trigger for eating disordered behaviour which I’m trying SO HARD not to fall back into atm.  It’s taken 20 years and some v direct honesty from a couple of friends to get into a ‘healthy’ eating routine and I really, really don’t want to lose that.  So I’ve literally made a timetable to structure the day around a ‘school day’ with set mealtimes which I have to stick to.  And it feels so much safer because it’s not my ‘choice’ and apart from a couple of really horrible, chaotic days, I’ve pretty much managed to stick to it.  Will share it here in case anyone else finds it useful ūüôā

 

But even though the world is chaos and scary, there have weirdly been some positive effects!  Which I’m trying to focus on and see as proof that things can change…

  1. Thanks to necessity for medical appointments, helplines and crisis calls, I can actually make and receive phone calls now without getting panicky!  Which is a HUGE thing for me.
  2. I have several friends who are amazing and some of whom put up with sometimes ridiculous texts or calls.  Several being a BIG change because before I’ve only managed to keep one or two friends at a time and now I have a few!  And I’m really trying to believe they won’t forget I exist just because I haven’t contacted them in a few days…
  3. Social media is not all paranoia and anxiety and with only close friends, can be an absolute lifeline.
  4. I can go to the supermarket only twice a week, buy more food at once without being convinced everyone will think I’m a greedy, lazy bitch and actually keep the food in the house without bingeing on all of it!!  Which, as someone who used to only be able to buy a day’s food at once, is a BIG change.  Mostly helped by my equally intense fear of germs meaning that I’m genuinely scared to go to the supermarket but I’m still taking it as a positive!
  5. I now wash my hands in a normalish way.  Which again is a big thing- I used to have to use 2-4 pumps of handwash and sometimes 2-4 more depending on if they ‘count’, and careful not to accidentally hit 13 overall so sometimes even more but now, thanks to restrictions on how much handwash you can buy, it’s 2 pumps ONLY and they both necessarily count.  And it’s amazing how much less anxiety I have now about washing my hands!
  6. I bought a weighted blanket to help with anxiety and needing a physical ‘hug’, and I’ve never slept so deeply in my life.  OK, it’s still not for very long and not always at night but it’s seriously amazing!
  7. Focussing on Jedi living is actually a lifesaver atm.  I won’t go into it too much now because I’m planning a whole post on it later on but there’s something really grounding about connecting with a Force greater than yourself and trying to really focus on quieting your mind and letting go of attachments and fear.  I know it might sound a bit weird but it honestly does really help.
  8. I have never spoken to my little cousins on FaceTime so much in my life (or ever, in fact)!  They’re all off school and bored atm and it’s so nice to connect with them, watch them play lego/do crafts/just hang out.  Living in England while they’re in Scotland means that sometimes I miss out on my little cousins growing up and it’s so nice to connect with them properly now.  Feels like I’m actually in Scotland with them!

Anyway, this post is a lot longer than I’d intended so will leave it here ūüôā REALLY hope everyone is managing OK and sending lots of hugs to anyone else self isolating on their own.  It really is hard and can feel like it’s never going to end but IT WILL and reach out to as many people as you can ‚̧

What I learned from running 10 marathons in 10 days

Sorry I didn’t post last night; was completely exhausted both physically and emotionally but finished the 10 in 10!! ¬†Honestly one of the hardest things I have ever done- I was just about prepared for it physically but really wasn’t ready for the mental challenge of getting to the startline every day for another marathon, keeping going when you’re too hot, everything hurts and you’re exhausted or (especially) the emotional overload every night after the race and occasionally during it. ¬†But DONE ūüėÄ probably not something I’ll ever attempt again but so glad I did it, really needed the challenge and good to have achieved at least one positive thing this summer.

The emotional side of the running was definitely the hardest bit. ¬†Usually I run ultras where you have 24+ hours of just zoning out and running at your own pace which is totally different to running marathons. ¬†Plus there are so many more PEOPLE which I know is good and motivating but sometimes I really just wanted to be on my own which was impossible on a lapped marathon. ¬†The people were amazing though- everyone was so lovely and encouraging and without them, I probably wouldn’t have got past day two but it’s definitely a different type of running to what I’m used to. ¬†There were a few days when I genuinely couldn’t stop crying and it’s hard when there are people all around you so spent a lot of time crying in bushes or anywhere people couldn’t see, and I hadn’t realised how emotional marathon running can be. ¬†I think it’s because you’re having to push physically all the time to meet the cut off times and you can’t zone out in the same way as during ultras so you’ve got too much thinking time and my brain was going to some pretty horrible places without enough distraction. ¬†Definitely not the kind of running I’d want to keep doing but definitely good for a challenge!

The other big challenge for me was being away for ten days on my own and managing the time in between marathons. ¬†It was really, really hard and had some pretty massive mood crashes between the runs but I kept reminding myself that it was still better than how I’ve been feeling at home recently and it was a massive challenge. ¬†I actually made some (for me) pretty sensible decisions- when I was having a really bad night and constant suicidal thoughts, I called a mental health helpline who contacted the psychiatrist I’m seeing at the moment so she called me, and I gave my medication to a running friend to look after so I couldn’t overdose on it which is definitely more sensible than I’d usually be. ¬†But I really, really wanted to complete the 10 in 10 which would be pretty impossible if I did anything ridiculous or stupid and my whole focus last week was getting through the challenge.

The other unexpected challenge was the heat- it was bloody hot especially over the last few days!! ¬†Running a dry, exposed course in 33 degree heat with no breeze is bloody tough and definitely made the challenge harder. ¬†Even though I was dipping my cap in cold water every lap, drinking as much water and electrolytes as I could and wearing factor 50 kids suncream, I was massively overheated all the time which really wasn’t fun. ¬†I’ve lost count of the amount of times I ran into the petrol station near the course to buy some diet Coke and even ate a ridiculous amount of ice poles and ice lollies which I’d never normally eat because of the sugar and additives but it was so, so needed and was desperate for any way to cool down. ¬†Never want to see an ice lolly again EVER and feeling a bit shit about how many I’ve eaten over the last ten days but it did seem to help stop the path from spinning so much.

Anyway, back to reality today :/ still on a bit of a high and trying to make it last as long as possible before the inevitable mood crash that people keep warning me about. ¬†So I’m trying to get as much washing, blog writing and productiveness done as a I can now! ¬†Felt a bit weird this morning not going to the Cyclopark for another run but definitely nice not to have to force down porridge with cornflakes and cereal bars when I’m already feeling sick or cover myself in green gunky suncream (because I hate white things) and feel yucky and greasy all day. ¬†But it is a bit lonely without the amazingness of awesome SVN people and how bloody incredible and supportive you all are- THANK YOU so so much!!

Been a bit of an epic and exhausting week, and actually learned some stuff! ¬†SO…

  1. The human body is AMAZING and is capable of incredible things.  Especially if you feed it.
  2. David Bowie is a lifesaver and playing Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide will make you feel alive even when you really don’t feel like it physically or mentally.
  3. Use the people around you- they are amazing. ¬†I’ve met so many awesome and inspiring people this week and thank you all so much!
  4. Ice lollies are GOOD and can save your race.
  5. Just keep moving. ¬†Even if you’re walking, you’re still getting closer to the finish line.
  6. It is possible to run, cry and breathe all at the same time and is actually kind of therapeutic.
  7. Sleep can completely reset your mind and is really, really important.  Even if you need Zopiclone to get it!
  8. You are capable of way, way more than you think you are and half the challenge is just starting it.
  9. Food is fuel and without it, you can’t even get past the first lap.
  10. I like icing even if I don’t like cake and it’s a bloody good energy boost!
  11. Whole albums are better than playlists because you actually feel like you’ve accomplished something when you run through a whole sequence of albums.
  12. Don’t listen to emotional audiobooks while running; you will cry uncontrollably.
  13. Listen to your body.  If you need to slow down, then slow down and enjoy the scenery.  Even the bloody rabbit bridge for the 160th time!!  Pushing through pain is never a good idea.
  14. Exhaustion is more mental than physical- your body can do pretty much anything, it’s your brain you need to convince.
  15. Mental and emotional exhaustion are two separate things. ¬†You can push through mental exhaustion and feel accomplished by the end; never try to force through emotional exhaustion because you’ll spend the evening feeling rubbish, overwhelmed and not safe.
  16. A text message from a friend can literally save your day.
  17. Running is a bubble away from real life where you’re not really alive or dead and neither really matters. ¬†It’s like being in an alternate universe where all that matters is that particular lap and that’s a pretty amazing escape.
  18. I am definitely more of an ultra person than a marathon runner!  But it is pretty cool to have ten rainbow coloured medals.
  19. Your worth isn’t defined by how many marathons you’ve run or how far you can push yourself. ¬†Everyone has their own individual limits and that’s OK; it’s working within those limits and feeling OK about yourself that matters.
  20. People are amazing. ¬†Even if you’re feeling shit and don’t really want to interact with anyone, they’re still there being encouraging and so lovely and it’s amazing watching people achieve incredible things.

Just want to say THANK YOU so so much to everyone for being so amazing and supportive this week, both in person and online and I really, really appreciate it. ¬†Genuinely didn’t think I’d manage even one marathon and I probably wouldn’t have without the support. ¬†Been a v v surreal and exhausting week physically, mentally and emotionally but also ironically one of the most ‘sane’ weeks I’ve had in months and really ¬†want to channel that!

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 ūüôā 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‚Ķ¬†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…

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…

Why I really need to make changes :/

Sorry I haven’t blogged in over a week, haven’t been feeling great and not really had anything useful to blog about. ¬†I did manage the soup last week though which was a massive positive! ¬†Took a LOT of psyching up to; there were several attempts where I’d planned to have it but talked myself out of it (I’m too tired, not done enough exercise, got too much going on, don’t need it etc) but I’d promised I’d do it once in a seven day period and last Wednesday was the seventh day so I had to. ¬†The pressure really helped- it meant that it wasn’t a ‘choice’ and I had to do it which took away a lot of the guilt and anxiety about it although I still felt really nervous and ‘wrong’ because it wasn’t what I’d usually have and I didn’t really need it. ¬†But I did it though and went straight out for a walk afterwards listening to Harry Potter to distract, and it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I’d thought it would be. ¬†I was really anxious afterwards that I’d suddenly gain lots of weight but weirdly I didn’t which was a massive relief! ¬†Tomorrow will be another week so will try it again tomorrow night, *touch wood* it will go OK again…

Things have been a bit rubbish since then though and haven’t managed to do anything else particularly positive which is a bit frustrating. ¬†Had a bit of a mood crash towards the end of last week which lasted into the weekend so spent most of Saturday and Sunday on the cross trainer or bingeing which wasn’t ideal (although I went to an amazing Roger Waters concert on Saturday night so wasn’t all bad) and still feeling overly emotional and rubbish, really hoping it’ll lift soon. ¬†I think it’s a build up of lots of different things- I work in a school and it’s end of the school year which is always hard because of changing timetables and not knowing exactly what’s going on, and kids have left after exams which is also tough because I get attached to kids I work closely with and takes a while to get used to new ones.

We’ve also been studying Of Mice And Men in one of the English classes I work in which is my least favourite book and I find really difficult to read, and it’s been affecting my moods a lot recently. ¬†It makes me feel really guilty, upset and horrible because of Lennie and how he accidentally hurts things without meaning to and it’s NOT HIS FAULT, and he’s actually trying to do what he thinks is the right thing all the time. ¬†The ending is HORRIBLE and so, so hard to read (we had to watch the ending of the film today which I hadn’t seen because the teacher last year let me go and work in another room when the kids were watching it, and it make me so shaky and I couldn’t help crying although I managed to mostly keep in in and thankfully only one boy I was working with noticed and didn’t make fun of me). ¬†It was actually harder to read this year than last year because I was already feeling a bit emotionally overloaded, and it triggered a lot of not-very-helpful thoughts about how hard it is not being able to manage your own emotions and how sometimes it really feels like it would be a good thing to have a friend like George in the last scene of the book (then I feel really guilty for thinking that and the whole cycle starts again). ¬†Not nice!! ¬†But thank God it’s a whole year till I need to read or study it again…

I think one of the massive downsides to trying to challenge your thoughts is that you’re suddenly more aware of everything your brain is telling you and that you’d usually just accept, and it makes the brain arguments so much more intense. ¬†This morning was a really good example of that and it was EXHAUSTING because I was trying to rationalise too many irrational thoughts at the same time but I did actually manage to successfully challenge one of them in the end! ¬†It went basically like this (‘B’ stands for brain/bitch in my head- bold is where I actually managed to challenge it):

*4am, waking up*

B: Get up, time for coffee and go for a run.

Me: I’m tired, I only slept an hour and a half last night and I’ve got a full day of school.

B: Stop being so bloody lazy and get up, you need to run to use up the extra energy from last night because you didn’t go for a walk after tea.

*gets up, immediately feels dizzy and goes back to bed*

*5.30am, waking up again*

B: YOU FAT LAZY BITCH, GET OUT OF BED.

Me: But I’m still tired, I really need to sleep.

B: STOP BEING SO BLOODY LAZY AND GET UP.

*gets up, goes downstairs feeling like a zombie, steps on scales.  Have put on a pound overnight which definitely wakes me up*

B: See how fat and disgusting you are?  Have coffee and get out running NOW.

Me: *feeling like shit, makes coffee and drinks it. ¬†By this point it’s 6am*

B: Stop being so fucking lazy and get ready to run.

Me: I’m still tired, I just want to hide on the beanbag and sleep.

B: Stop putting it off and just fucking RUN.

Me: It’s nearly quarter past six, I won’t have time to run properly anyway.

B: A short run is better than no run you lazy bitch.  Just bloody go.

Me: But I won’t have run enough to earn soya milk and I’ll feel dizzy if I go to school without it.

B: That’s your body playing tricks on you to make you eat- override it, you’re in control. ¬†Just fucking run.

Me: I was planning to go on the cross trainer later…

B: And you’ll come up with a million excuses- it’s too hot, I’m too tired, I’ve been at after school club running after kids… ¬†Stop being so fucking fat and lazy.

Me: But even if I do run, I won’t have time to shower afterwards and I need to get to work.

B: Who cares? ¬†It’s not like you sweat anyway you lazy bitch- you’re not even working hard enough for that. ¬†Just RUN.

*puts on trainers, goes for a run. ¬†Runs further than I thought thanks to constant ‘motivation’ from bitch in my head*

B: See, that wasn’t so hard was it?

Me: But now I feel really weird and dizzy, and I’ve got ten hours of work to get through.

B: But you ran which is the main thing and you can go on the cross trainer later.  That should be enough to balance it out.

Me: I’m dizzy and shaky, I need food.

B: No you don’t you stupid bitch. ¬†It’s your body messing with you, ignore it.

Me: No, I need to eat something, I need the energy for work.

B: No you don’t- stop being so fucking greedy. ¬†Just go to work.

Me: No, I didn’t eat enough on Friday and people at work noticed that I was dizzy and disorientated, and I can feel it happening again. ¬†I’m going to have some soya milk.

B: YOU DON’T NEED IT YOU FAT BITCH. ¬†You only ran four miles, that’s nothing and you haven’t even been on the cross trainer yet.

Me: But the soya milk will keep my blood sugars more stable then I’ll have more energy for the cross trainer.

B: JUST GO TO BLOODY WORK. ¬†You don’t need anything.

*ignores it and has soya milk, then goes to work*

That was bloody HARD!! ¬†Normally, I’d run further than I did this morning and wouldn’t even consider having the soya milk but last week, I felt really ill a couple of days at work and a few people I work with noticed which I REALLY don’t want, and I know it was low blood sugar levels (I was shaky and zoned out, parts of my body felt disjointed and not real, and I was really itchy all over). ¬†I did go on the cross trainer after work and felt ill again afterwards but luckily I had tea pretty much straight away and although I’m still a bit shaky and zoned out now, it’s a lot better than it was. ¬†But it’s things like that that are making me realise that I really do need to learn to manage it properly and I really, really want to be able to. ¬†I hate the constant tiredness and feeling rubbish, and it’s exhausting having to constantly argue with your brain.

I’m REALLY hoping that the more I challenge it, the easier it’ll be but it really doesn’t feel like it at the moment. ¬†It’s hard as well because of feeling generally rubbish and not very motivated, and it feels a lot like ‘I’m never going to be able to change or get rid of it so what’s the point in trying?’ but I also really, really don’t want to lose my job or have to go inpatient again so I know I need to do something. ¬†Feeling so trapped and horrible atm! ¬†But also determined to start feeling more positive about it…