The Black Dog Bites

You don’t notice it do you? I’m used to feeling ‘bad’ so I don’t notice it. I don’t notice that it’s moved in, bit by bit, quietly and sneakily. Then, one day, I ask myself when was the last time you actually enjoyed a run? I can’t really remember. Every run has been a countdown, a pretty agonising countdown, to the finish. At the finish there hasn’t been any warm glow of achievement but rather relief that it was over and disappointment in my performance,m. Well maybe that’s Marathon training? You see you can excuse feeling bad pretty much all the time… I’m tired; I’ve got a lot on; it’s just one of those days; and so on.

So I cast my mind back. Fair enough if marathon training was sucking the fun out of running, it happens. So I tried to think about other things I enjoyed and I found myself staring back into months of greyness. For example I love autumn, I adore the colours and how the air feels but this year I have been emotionless. Acknowledging that oh that’s nice but not feeling anything.

Then I noticed how I have been withdrawing, how going out is getting much harder and that there are excuses aplenty: I can’t go to the shop, I’m too tired. I need to rest to just have enough energy to do the things that I have to do eg the school run. The last few evenings I haven’t cooked the evening meal but instead have had to wait for the husband to come home.

And there’s the shakes. I used to get the shakes a lot back when I was still working. My classes were very familiar with my shaking hands and we’d joke about them. Have you ever tried placing a lit split in a test tube of hydrogen with shaking hands? It’s certainly a challenge! Back then I was given propranolol and that stopped the shakes, which was fantastic. Now I avoid propranolol as it stops me running. The shakes are anxiety but it’s all part of the same not-being-well package.

One of the things I have to be mindful of is feeling an emotion, like being depressed, and feeling like it has always been that way – that’s a side effect of BPD. I thought back and I remembered weeks ago that I had slightly increased my antidepressant dose. Antidepressants are great when they work but they are not meds to mess with so if I had decided to increase my dose several weeks ago then I must have been feeling bad for weeks before that too. Funny how with a busy life time passes.

Speaking of a busy life, I’m stressed (shaking hands, paranoid thoughts etc). I’m stressed because I have so much to do… but I’m not on top of it. I noticed that I’m behind on my reflexology homework (stress!), I noticed that I’m delaying our house sale because I haven’t done various things (stress!), that I only shower if absolutely necessary.

Well, there’s the evidence. It’s something I’d rather not see and it’s something that would rather stay hidden but that’s not going to help. Fortunately I have techniques to manage. A daily night time reminder for a mindfulness meditation, writing a to-do list to share out the responsibilities, accepting help (like the massive lie in that I had today), adjusting my goals (I read a timely and brilliant article about that in Nov18 Runner’s World p56). Self care.

From Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’

Realising that I’m in a bad place can be upsetting but I’d rather not ruminate on that. Instead I’d rather plan my way through. Yes the marathon will happen in 8 days. At the moment I’m numb about that. I’ve also entered a 100 miles in October Race at your Pace virtual run. 100 miles is a realistic but challenging target to keep me moving. I’ve also decided to get into this heart rate training thing so that when I’m running I’m not busting a gut but taking it more easy and changing my focus.

We are. All of us. We’re doing great.

Sometimes conditions change, well if we’re talking weather it changes all the time and we modify our plans. A decline in mental health is the same. I just need to modify my plans and make sure I have what I need and I’ll get there. Be gentle with yourselves fellow runners.

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