Two years ago my life changed forever.
I was an overworked science teacher with two kids. I felt I was failing in the classroom and failing at home. I was clinging on to my way of life by my fingertips and, two years ago today, I broke.
I’d broken before. In one episode, a little over 5 years ago, my brain had just shut down, it simply refused to keep going. I couldn’t string a sentence together. My speech was peppered with pauses and stutters. I couldn’t drive anymore as the required concentration was too much. I couldn’t care for my children and thankfully I have a husband who could. I was off work for 3 months, a zombie, and when I returned I resigned my promotion and switched my hours to part time. It hurt. I’d worked hard for those achievements but health is more important. My GP was amazed at my recovery and said that when he sees people in the state that I was in? Well, sometimes they never get better never mind within 3 months. I felt quite proud of myself.
But that was 5 years ago. When I broke 2 years ago it was worse than that. Much worse. Everything changed. I was already in ‘the system’ tangled in waiting lists and assessments and getting nowhere fast. I was desperate. Why wouldn’t anyone help? I paid for private help but it wasn’t enough. I was very poorly. My work were actually great and tried to support me, reducing my workload and putting an escape procedure in place in case I needed to escape my class (not easy with 30 x 14 year olds with Bunsen burners on the go!) With my GP I had started on the antidepressant merry-go-round (there is nothing merry about it right enough).
But I broke. I broke. I broke.
I just couldn’t do it.
And the course of my life changed.
It’s been awful but, in retrospect, maybe it needed to happen. In lots of ways I am unrecognisable to the person I was 2 years ago.
I couldn’t run upstairs 2 years ago. I was 5 stone heavier. Then, in January 2017, I tentatively put on some trainers, borrowed a top from my husband, pulled a cap down over my face and went out for Run 1 of a C25K app called Get Running.The app said to go out 3 times a week. I couldn’t do that. I went out once a week and wow! What a difference it made.
With running I had started to rebuild my broken self. I had no identity but running helped me to shape one. I could begin to achieve again. Sometimes I could even feel proud of myself. I have never been a runner and that actually helped. Doing something I was ‘bad’ at meant that every achievement felt significant. My confidence grew and I needed a challenge: The Great North Run 2017.
And I did it.
And I loved it.
I was pleased to raise £1300 for Samaritans. It was a practical way that friends and family could show their support for me and it meant the world.
The GNR was 6 months ago now and I’ve done lots of running since.This year I’m going to do my first marathon, The Yorkshire. Next year I am desperate to do London and raise money for Dementia research so fingers crossed on that one.
My children are proud of me.
I am getting better but it’s still hard. People don’t see that.They see the success but not the struggle because mental illness is invisible and I’m the worst culprit for hiding mine. It’s second nature.
Well today I’ve got a lot of DIY to do but I’m going to try and squeeze in a teeny run later, even a mile, to look back and remember where I was two years ago. And, you know what, it’s kind of exciting because I wonder where the next two years will take me. There will be the darkness unfortunately – that seems like something I’m just going to have to learn to live with but it’s not so scary now.
I find the running community are very understanding of mental health issues. Whether they have a diagnosed condition or not runners understand about pushing themselves, about overcoming that negative voice in their heads, about hitting walls, about perseverance and self care.
Keep running with kindness 🖤