Running Through Recovery

Day 388: Running is a good way of describing being in recovery. Running is a process that has different variables from one run to another, very much like each day in recovery.

I was out running yesterday and my head was saying ‘throw the towel in, you’re tired and you don’t need this’ – In the past I’d have really battled with that voice (the beast) telling me to give up. I immediately thought about the bigger picture of my life journey at the moment – compared it to a run – moving forward but forever faced with doubt, pain and the desire to stop. End the journey. But no, I haven’t given up on life which at times has been a long, tortuous mental and physical battle. Pretty sure I can power through a few miles of tarmac after years of lows. I did. F*ck the beast. I won. The beast went quiet.

My mental health in general can best be described as a Half Marathon – 13.10 miles to those non-runners reading this. A roller-coaster. Things can be ok, pretty steady and calm then I feel my anxiety getting stronger – I try to fight it head on and I get breathless, tired and low. I want it to stop but I know deep down it will stop in it’s own time if I help myself. How can I help myself? Breathe. Distract myself. Ride it out.

An odd type of euphoria often follows anxiousness. That feeling of release and lightness. I get a spring in my step, I feel myself going faster but not fast enough to hurt myself – fast enough to get the juices flowing and the adrenaline pumping. I’m smiling internally and maybe, just maybe externally too. I feel naughty smiling – as if I was destined to never be happy but I continue in the moment and forget about the pain I have already endured and the pain I’m likely to face once again.

Onto the biggest chunk of my mental health half marathon – around 60% of the whole event and I’m neither euphoric or in crisis. I’m not even overly anxious or depressed which means I can operate pretty much on autopilot to a high standard and float along getting the job done. It’s boring and very repetitive but we all need this mode at times because it gives our brain a break and our mind can do it’s own thing. The beast can’t make too much noise because there is nothing for it to latch onto and try to wear down.

Then comes the bumpy bit where the road gets steeper and the wind gets stronger. At first I shrug it off but then somebody bumps into me and doesn’t apologise. I’m angry and want to lash out or say something but don’t. This makes me more irritated because I’m letting myself get bullied. God, I hate bullies. The beast wakes up and get’s excited because it can smell vulnerability and irrational thinking. I start telling myself it was an accident and to let it go, but before I can process it somebody runs in front of me and nearly trips me up – that’s it, I want blood. Nobody messes with me.

Hang on! The beast is alive and loving this. Don’t succumb to the tricks. Don’t take the bait.

Again, it’s a case of riding it out and whatever time I need, I take. The beast will get bored of no reaction and soon wander back off into the shadows. The wind weakens and the path ahead of me softens. We are back to that nice gentle feeling of nothingness. Just how I like it.

365 Days for Me

Day 319: Firstly, Happy New Year and all the best for the year ahead! I spent NYE in my PJs eating an Indian Takeaway and watching World’s Strongest Man.

In 2022 I’ve decided I’m going to do at least one thing FOR ME each day. It’s so important that we look after ourselves. Our Mental health. Physical health. Mind and body. Even the smallest gift to ourself each day can make a difference. We can’t care for others if we don’t care for ourselves!

Today I’ve been for a 5.5km run. Running is one of my favourite ways to switch off and unwind so I suspect it’ll regularly be my ‘go to’ for my daily self care. I haven’t actually ran beyond 5km in recent months so whilst it might not be much further physically it’s mentally a step forward as I aim to get back to 10km distances.

I hope I record at least one positive thing each day, all year – even when I’m ‘busy’ or feeling low. Especially when I’m feeling low. It could be Yoga, going for a walk, reading a chapter of a book, making some banana bread or listening to an old album I love. There are no rules. Just something that makes you smile and feel like you’ve accomplished something.

When I was in hospital last year I was in such a bad way mentally that just getting out of bed and having a shower was my daily goal. Then it was shower, make the bed, get some clothes on. Then it was shower, make the bed, clothed and compete a crossword! – There wasn’t much else I could do in isolation in my room!

Hopefully you will do something similar this year. We only get one shot at life so let’s give ourselves a head start each day.

What have you done for YOU today?