We all must change sometimes

Change – The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as…….

Nah, enough of that crap. But it is a subject that has been playing on my mind over the last few days and something that has been bugging me if I am honest. Some of us love change, love that every week or even every day is different, a new adventure. The rest despise it. They like to live where they know the “plan”, whether it be Taco Tuesday, Dress down Friday or just what their TV schedule is going to be.

Me? Well I like to think in a lot of ways I am in that annoying grey area you get when the circles over lap. In some ways I crave control and order. I work well under pressure, I like to know what is needed and when and get antsy if there isnt a routine of sorts. School holidays throw me out of whack! If you ask me, kids should have the same annual leave as adults. Get them ready for the working world 😉 …………………………… for anyone who is easily offended, that was a joke. Kind of!

However, I do embrace change. I am fully aware that change has to occur for things to develop. You have to make decisions without knowing what the final outcome is actually going to be. I find that exciting! Scary as well, but mainly exciting. Look at me now compared to this time last year. Granted, my personal circumstances dont look great on paper but ultimately they were my choices. They will help me become a better person. In fact they were two of the most “selfish” things I have ever done BUT I HAD TO. For me.

Look beyond that and what you see, I hope, is a lass that this time last year was terrified of even staying alive. Now, she has made monumental decisons over the last few months that will shape the future. Volunteering, starting college, about to go to uni, starting her own peer support group, being vocal about her mental health issues, helping others, about to run a marathon, etc.

I have so much to look forward to, I have achieved so much, yet the last few weeks the thing that seems to have changed the most is…..ME! My emotions are all over the place, I am losing grasp of my motivation and drive, issues I thought had been put to bed are starting to raise their ugly heads again and I feel, quite frankly, shit! Yesterday was an eye opener to me. I am used to the feelings of blah and sadness. Depression is being a massive dick at the minute and not seeming to give me more than one good day in a row, two if he is feeling particularly generous. Yesterday though, I had a whole new emotion I normally keep a tight lid on. Anger.

I am scared of my angry side. I struggle to control it properly and when it goes off, people get hurt. Often, innocent people. People who have done nothing but be there for me and want the best for me. Yet, in that angry phase comes pure hatred. Very occasionally it can be aimed at someone who has hurt me but mainly, it is aimed at me. Yesterday, I hated me. I hated my stupid head that couldnt focus, I hated my injuries that are stopping me from doing what I need to do to get my motivation back, I hated the insecurities that were playing around in my brain, I hated the voices in my head telling me everything was my fault – I was weak, worthless, an idiot, ugly, nasty, selfish. Oh the whole lot came out. So along with anger, was genuine sadness. A feeling of defeat. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, just vicious name calling and deafening darkness. I still believe I am not as low as I was – I can honestly say I want to live, but I sure as hell didnt want to be here. I didnt want to be me. I wanted to scream, shout, throw stuff and push everyone away as they didnt deserve this absolute mess of a person dragging them down to her depths of despair. Why would anyone want to put up with this person?

My ability to catastrophise things was in full swing. I hurt my calf on my long marathon training run the other day. Nothing serious, but certainly enough to halt my running for a few days. Oh well, that meant in my head, no way can you run a marathon. In fact, why bother running at all? These few days will see you getting fat again. You might as well, your skin is shocking, you look like a scruff and so on and so on. How can your own mind be so horrible? How can your own eyes look in a mirror and make your mind see an image that makes you feel so horrendous!? The only thing I could see was my faults. It took away all feelings of achievement, success, satisfaction at how much I have changed over the years. I felt like my head was going to explode! I couldnt be this person. I AM NOT THIS PERSON!

You see, for those who dont understand, a mental illness has the power to fully control you. It takes over your mind, body and even at times, your soul. You know what is happening, a bit like a puppet on a string in those old fairground shows, but can you hell change anything! It is one of the biggest fights you will ever have, trying to break free of those strings. Of getting back control. I believe that every scar is a blessing, a sign that you survived and stepped forward stronger but I tell you what, it is exhausting!

So, there I was, in my little funk, Depression pulling my strings. I could have just succumbed to it. I suppose many people wouldnt blame me if I had. It’s been one shitter of a bloody year so far. Maybe I do deserve to sit and lick my wounds. You know what though, that is not who I am. Even with this hideous illness that seems to be really attached to me, I am not a sad, angry, negative person. I am CC. I see silver linings, I hunt for the positives in every negative, so much so I probably make people vomit in their gobs sometimes. I use every bad thing as a springboard on to the next amazing thing. I am a good friend, a good listener. I believe everything happens for a reason and I am starting to believe in myself! I was not going back in my hole for anything!

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So on to the last part, you can breathe a big sigh of relief, go on, I know you want to. Lent. Ok, I am the least religious person ever. Unless you want a massive explanation, to probably somehow be offended and a debate, I wouldnt ask me why. However I do see a purpose in Lent. It is the time where you give up something that is important to you, something that would be a huge struggle to survive without. The common ones – smoking booze (why, I have no idea), chocolate and other sweet stuff, bread etc.

I racked my brains yesterday as to what I could do, even posted a FB status, as you do these days. Yet nothing was clicking, nothing was what I wanted to do. I had sat stewing over all the above and more and I happened to glance at myself. That’s it – I would give up – ME! Not in all my entirity, obviously I am aware from what people tell me there are some pretty decent things about me. I wanted to draw a line though. To mark this as an official end to all the personal negativity, to stop letting the broken part of my mind win. Last time it did, it did nearly won physcially. Not on my watch Depression. So as I am all for symbolism, I gave up – my blonde hair! I have been blonde for over two years now. My hair is important to me, it is an extension of my personality. You could look back and probably see a pattern emerge. That miserable, angry, negative, blonde CC could do one! In her place, a new, determined, aware, brunette CC came forward. It was a shock to me, I went quite literally from one extreme to another but I think I needed to. I need to go forward  now onto my new adventure. I need this time to explore me, my needs, my wants. I need space, I need freedom and I need to come back fighting. The cracks in my brain may never be fully fixed, but if I can only keep them from opening more, that is a win in my eyes.

I wont be miraculously better any day soon but I sure as hell wont be the lass I was yesterday. I dont know who she was, where she came from or what but I tell you one thing, I kicked her arse!

To anyone struggling, you CAN and you WILL get through whatever it is. Please remember though, you dont have to do it alone.

Rant over

CC xx

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12 days of #ChristmasinMind

Yesterday saw Middlesbrough & Stockton Mind kick off their Christmas campaign #ChristmasinMind to help people see that even at the “happiest” time of the year it is OK to not feel OK. I personally think it is a fantastic campaign as being someone who is often called the Grinch for her dislike or at least her complete lack of interest in the festive season apart from the mulled wine and having a valid reason to be hungover (or still drunk) on a Tuesday, it is important that people can see behind the fairy lights, tinsel and brightly wrapped presents to what is a reality for so many people.

For those who love every bit about Christmas, I am not trying to be Debbie Downer. At the risk of sounding like a giant piece of Stilton I would LOVE it if everyone could have the same festive glow and happiness at this time of year, the same way I wish everyone had a warm, cosy home, food in their belly and the feeling of love and safety. But at the risk of sounding blunt, please, let’s get realistic. If you want to live in your little snow globe of candy canes, Christmas trees and mince pies, I urge you to stop reading now. Or at least invite us all in for a big piece of cake 🙂

Have you ever sat in a room full of people and felt utterly alone? What about at a works party, where you seem to be having the time of your life but where in fact you are drinking to numb the pain? You end up being the drunkest person this side of the equator and go down in “legend” or “joke” status for how the night ended, with your face down in your doner meat? Have you been that person that has craved attention, even of the sexual kind, and will take it from anyone, just to try and even temporarily cover the disgust you feel at yourself? ………….. I have.

Whatever it is that you are suffering from, be it an established mental health condition like me, a result of a terrible experience like bereavement or maybe having a stressful time in your current life where you just cant seem to get your head straight and have no Screenshot_20171213-074740.jpgidea whether you are coming or going, it can be really hard to admit to even yourself just how bad you feel. You might be one of those people who hide away from the world, you  may get up, slap on your game face and go about your day like you are not emotionally breaking inside as you just don’t have the time, you may go opposite end of the spectrum and get completely wrapped up (no pun intended) in the season and seem like Mary Christmas in the attempt to do anything to cover up how you are really feeling. I just want to say, all of these things are completely OK. However you cope with things to get you through the day is so very OK. You being here, with us, with those that care about you and love you is all that truly matters. Not how much you might have been able to spend, or how entertaining you have been, how big and bright your Christmas tree is or how many Christmas films you have managed to binge watch in one go.

Honesty I really believe is key. There is something to be said for the whole “fake it till you make it” scenario, sometimes you can even find yourself having an unexpectedly good time. At the same time though this can be completely exhausting and if it is what is making you feel worse, please, do not suffer in silence. It is good to talk. It may not be your nearest and dearest, it could be an online group (join Run Every Day January – what an amazing group of people) it could be your GP, your significant other, your best mate or just someone that you know might understand. I always have a listening ear if someone feels lost and not sure where to go. I cant offer professional advice or diagnosis or anything like that, but what I can offer is friendship and someone who genuinely cares.

It goes a different way too, you may be completely great and going about your day in your usual jolly way, but have you noticed someone round you has changed? Are they quieter than usual? Are they cancelling plans? Are they acting out of character? Are you worried or concerned about someone even though you cant quite put your finger on why? Then I ask you, please, give them the greatest gift you could – your time. It could be as simple as a “Are you OK?” message – they might not have been asked that little three word phrase yet it could be a lifeline for them to open up. If they are avoiding social gatherings, invite them out 1 on 1 or for a coffee at yours. If they really don’t want to talk, and some people, speaking from experience, simply wont until they are completely ready, just be there. Be their friend. Send them daft GIFS, meme’s, keep them included, let them know, no matter how low they are feeling, they are not alone.

Social media, although I am using it as a huge positive in campaigning and registering my achievements, unfortunately it can be used and seen in a negative fashion. Although you want to show the world you are having the biggest, best Christmas, do you need to show the world? One, is it the genuine truth? but please, think of the people who may be struggling – financially, emotionally, mentally. I am so not saying you should feel bad about what you post, it is your social media, your life, but maybe just stop, for one small moment and think, why am I doing this? If it is to show the massive pile of presents in comparison with others you have seen?

There is a lot of pressure put on us, commercials and shops start their Christmas messages and promotions earlier every year, but I think what we are starting to lose, is genuine Christmas spirit. It is becoming so much more materialistic year on year. Little Jimmy NEEDS the brand new games console, Jane MUST have the latest trainers etc. I was thinking about this the other day. If I look back over my Christmas’s, especially as a child, I can barely remember what I got, apart from a few things that stand out as I really wanted them, but they were little things, things that wouldn’t have cost much money but that my Mam realised how much I would appreciate. What I do remember though is family meals at my Nana’s. We might have had a small family but it was lovely to be all together. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect, there would be arguments, tears and the lot but we were together, Even my Grandad would come and sit at the table! That was like a MASSIVE deal. There was also a lot of love and laughter. I miss that, so much and I know now, I never appreciated it when I had it. Not really.

This Christmas, I want my children to appreciate not what has been bought for them, but how loved they are and for what they do have not what they might have wanted and didn’t get. I want them to feel safe, happy and content and I want to make memories that they wont forget when the latest model of whatever comes out next year. I want them to believe that they are worth it, that they are special in their own way.

Screenshot_20171213-074503.jpgFor myself, I am going to actually try and believe that I am worth it. That I don’t just have to be there and do everything for everyone else. That it isn’t selfish to want to do something for myself, whether it be an undisturbed bubble bath, a run or just going to the shop without my rabble so I can have a bit of space. That if I want to work on my college work or blog for a little while then that is OK. That will go such a long way in helping me overcome often negative feelings at this time of year. I am not going to stress that I haven’t been able to spend a fortune, or that I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping yet as I have been so ridiculously busy building a foundation for a potentially fantastic 2018. Christmas is one day and what I do promise, is to give me, my time, to those that I love.

I am lucky that I have battled a lot of demons this year and that Christmas is hopefully not going to be the emotional mess it has been in previous years for me internally. My journey is far from over but I am strong and I will keep fighting.

For those struggling, remember, it’s ok not to be ok, even at Christmas time.

CC xx

 

Battling demon’s you cant always see

Gutted! My run streak, although no where near as good as it was at the beginning of the year, was going well and for about 95% of the time I was genuinely enjoying every run! I am doing only about 2% treadmill runs  now, where it was the opposite way round in January. Then, SHOCK, I fell ill. Monday and Tuesday this week I have been so poorly even my eye balls hurt. The worst part wasn’t that I was in so much pain everywhere, it was that it stopped me in my tracks, literally. I was getting out of breScreenshot_20171205-140959.jpgath walking up the stairs! Now, I have had my little pity party, moaned like only I can, played myself mournful tunes on the worlds smallest violin even! The thing is, what do you do when you can’t do the only thing that you know will guarantee to make you feel better?! It was a tough one. Monday I pretty much just spent in bed as I couldn’t actually do anything else. Extra shame being added that even then I didn’t sleep as I couldn’t breath. But yesterday, I could move around so I was determined to get better! The thing is, once I stopped focusing on woe is me and being all pathetic, I got thinking. Oh dear!

The thing with me is I live life in the fast lane as much as I possibly can. Stopping is not an option for me; I don’t have hundreds of years on this planet so I need to move quick sharp to ensure the amazing things I want to achieve occur in my lifetime and while I still have at least a couple of my marbles left to enjoy the success. When I get forced to stop, like when I get ill, it gets my head all busy, in the wrong way. Sitting with my lemsip yesterday I got thinking about fear. What I am scared of and why. I try to stick a brave face on as much as possible, some of my fears are ridiculous but some are deeply ingrained in me and if I fall too far and feel too weak, these fears could hold me back from fighting and going forward.

Now I have the standard little fears that most people have; moths and butterflies for instance. Only in real life, I don’t like the way they fly at you and yes, even butterflies. They are basically just moths in HD! Ironically I do love the metaphors that come from them, a grub into a gorgeous creature etc and I do love pictures of them, as long as they are not gigantic. I even have a tattoo of one down my upper back. Weird – well that is me! It is the wings flapping and their deely bopper things. Give me goosebumps!

My most ridiculous fear? Gimps. They scare the bejesus out of me. All that leather, not being able to see their faces. Terrifying. If I ran into one I think I would melt into a puddle. To be fair to me though, it is the mask thing. I can’t stand not being able to see someone’s face. It is freaky! Halloween can be an interesting time for me. I beg you all, stick to the face paint!

As I have got older, heights slightly worry me, flying causes me anxiety and I doubt very much that I would get on the rides I used to love any more. You see, I worry more that something will happen and my kids will lose me. Sounds extreme. Again, that’s me. All or nothing!

But here are my personal fears, the thinking fears. The daft fears that I have no control over. I am scared that if I stop, I wont start again. That all the things I have started to build will come crumbling down around me. I am no quitter but I am absolutely terrified that if given a chance my brain will just go, erm, nahhhhhh. That I will give up. That the place of numbness and just existing will appeal again and I will just want a quiet life. Don’t get me wrong, my new found feelings scare me themselves! Some of them are very strong. The feelings of love I have mean I have the ability to feel loss and pain. Big style. But I now know that the feeling of love and happiness is worth that risk, that fear, of pain.

I am scared that I am completely kidding myself. I have such high hopes and grand plans for the future. Yet I feel a bit of a fraud. I know I put so much pressure on myself to do well that if I fail in anything the affect it has on me mentally can be quite brutal. I know this is what spurs me on but at the same time I don’t want it to be what destroys me if I don’t do as well as I think I should. It links to rejection I suppose. I know I have put weight on over the last few weeks so all I see in the mirror is the lass from this time last year. I know my fitness levels have peaked despite this but even the idea of not exercising scares me. The fact that I will lose what I have worked so hard to gain. I will lose my speed that has been amazing to be fair since my half marathon. I will lose my strength and muscle definition as I haven’t got a weights routine in place at the moment. I am utterly scared that I will lose my passion for it! If that was to happen I feel like everything would become meaningless. The foundations of my future and my principles are based on exercise and it’s benefits. I think it is because I don’t fit the stereotype of a person of fitness and I feel that even at 33 I don’t have age on my side.

So this is the thought spiral that occurs when CC cant run. Pretty shocking isn’t it?

Well today, today has kicked me up the bum and I can celebrate what I can and have achieved. I truly believe that facing your fears and going out your comfort zone is a compulsory part of self development and appreciation. If you don’t know what scares you, you cant really know what pushes you. I constantly keep surprising myself at the minute and I love that feeling. Feeling poorly for 2 days I expected the gym to be a bit of a disappointment and I was just going to get back in to the swing of things BUT

I RAN A SUB 25 MINUTE 5KM!!!! What the actual??

Go on CC!!

On top of that, yesterday I received an invite to my very first awards ceremony for my local MIND. Makes me so proud to be a volunteer and I am so excited to meet people and see what other amazing things happen across the charity and our local community. Our Christmas In Mind campaign kicks off on 12 December too. I have a little quote featured in the press release and I have written a Christmas Blog that will hopefully be featured on one of those days.

As well as this I have finished the assignments I had due and I am as prepared as I can be for a presentation I have to give tonight on social divisions – inequalities in gender, race and ethics within employment in modern society. Not even 50% I have a clue what I am babbling on about, but I keep thinking, it’s just one more assignment closer to Uni. So for 3 whole hours this afternoon I had the absolute luxury of doing……….. NOTHING! And for the very first time in forever, I could appreciate it, because I knew I deserved it. I wasn’t procrastinating, I wasn’t poorly, I wasn’t stressing or overthinking or beating myself up. I was just… ME.

So all in all, it’s been a sunshine and showers couple of days but I love the changing seasons in myself as it all just adds to the colourfulness that I like to think I have. Yes I have many fears, but I am not scared to admit them. That means they cant hold any power over me and Depression cant use them as weapons. I have never been more determined than I am right now, in this minute and the fact I have had a smile on my face all day – result! I do look so much better with a smile.

I believe I can so I shall!

Much Love

CC xx

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Self Care – but what does that mean?

OK, at this moment in time I am a mix of completely raging and on the verge of tears, I had pretty much finished this original blog but somehow I managed to wipe the whole lot off my screen! Now I could lose my head and toss this laptop across the room, but there are 3 things stopping me, 1) I need said laptop for my college work 2) It could have been a lot worse, it could have been said college work and 3) I shall make this new blog post insanely better. FML! *deep breaths*

Anyway, back to the point in question, self care. I have just completed day 13 in my self love  challenge. Self love challenge? What is that I hear you say? Well, glad you asked! During one of my regular social media scrolling sessions I came across the 30 day self love plan, every day it has a different thing in which you need to focus on in regards to yourself. I thought this was such a great idea! We spend so much time focusing on others or concentrating on our flaws we often overlook our elements of amazingness. The things that make us tick, make us thankful, make us feel good. We don’t always focus on what we could do to feel better, to enhance certain aspects of our life further or just to step back and see what a beautiful person we are. To further extend this challenge, I decided that each day, thIMG_20171116_173215_775.jpge particular answer to whatever question would be written on a coloured Post It note and stuck on a wall which I had no choice but to look at every day. Said wall being that to my “office” aka the sofa near the window that I am currently sat on surrounded by college work. I should be doing an assignment but I am procrastinating and doing this blog instead. If it counts, blogging is a necessity to me so I am not technically procrastinating. No? Not buying it? Was worth a try!

I wont lie, as much as I would class myself as a positive person, I really do try to find silver linings in every day, I fail miserably at looking at myself in a positive light and even worse at looking after myself. I know what I can do to make myself feel better and to feel good but more often than not I feel guilty and find something else that needs doing for someone else that is more important. I wont change wanting to do things for people and I love being busy with a lot on my plate but after a trip to the Doctor a few weeks ago due to my serious sleeping issues I have finally had a stark wake up call (no pun intended) that I MUST start looking after myself, properly! Currently I am rattling off the tablets I am taking, my skin is horrendous, I am putting weight back on because of the anti biotics I am on and I am mostly just feeling generally crappy. The irony that if I had just taken more time out for me, to look after myself, I wouldn’t be in this position, is not lost on me. A positive spin on this – I learn from my mistakes………..eventually! This is certainly one such occasion.

The thing is, I hate to be a hypocrite, so how can I expect to help people, motivate people and (in my dreams) inspire people if I do not practice what I preach? Simple answer, I wouldn’t be able to. I would theoretically be doing all this work and study for basically no reason as I wouldnt be in position to help anyone in any way. So, the purpose of this blog is to get down in writing the things I know will help me. Everyone will have their own things that help, it is certainly one of those things that you certainly cant compare with others, apart from to get ideas and tips maybe. I think it is important for me to take a step back and appreciate what coping techniques I actually do have in place that I probably don’t give myself credit for. To remember what makes me feel good and happy. The things that make me, well, me!

Here are my ways to self care:

  • A hot bubble bath – it has to have LOADS of bubbles, the water has to be hot, so hot in fact that I have to swing my legs over the side at random intervals to cool down. To make it absolutely perfect it has to be free of family distractions, candles lit, a playlist of my choice depending on my mood and a large glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Bliss!
  • Following on from the bath really but something I very rarely do – pamper myself. Lush smelling body lotion, sorting out my eyebrows, painting my nails and doing my hair. As a rule I am a shot hair up in a messy bun, slap some mascara on and go type of lass, but I love to do this and to be honest it feels so much more satisfactory when I am not going anywhere. When all I have planned is to chill in the house but I am doing this simply because it makes me feel good. I can remind myself that around being a Mam, Wife, Friend, Worker etc I am still a woman. Again, music features prominently, normally something I can sing along to.
  • Reading a book – for this to really work it has to be when I don’t have to keep an eye on the time for whatever reason . I like to get a drink, curl up on the sofa and just lose myself in a different world. Genre wise I am flexible but I wont lie, there is something so lush about a good love story!
  • Binge watching a TV series – this NEVER happens anymore. Mainly I just don’t have time and partly that the husband basically dislikes everything I suggest haha. So many things people rave about that I just haven’t even had a chance to look into. Currently I have season 6 of Scandal and basically all of the American Horror Stories to get my teeth into. Christmas holidays cant come quick enough! This binge watching comes with nice food and drink to make it really special
  • Blogging – I love blogging. I am never going to be one of those shiny professional bloggers, I am way too common! To be honest, as much as I always get a buzz when people read my random thoughts and I love seeing my stats climb, I genuinely blog as it helps empty my mind. I can rant, I can be sarcastic, I can chat absolute nonsense, it is a complete freedom that I had never discovered before. I actually enjoy reading them back and sometimes I feel like I am reading another persons story. The things I have learnt about myself since I started this in April is amazing!
  • Going for a child free drink with Darryl and/or friends. I love my children more than life but sometimes it is so good to remember who CC really is. I don’t even care if it is during the day or I have a curfew. An hour can have the same effect as a full on sesh. For those who don’t have kids, appreciate the freedom you have now, don’t take it for granted, trust me.
  • Little things like colouring in, baking muffins and cooking a new receipe from scratch. These just take me out of the here and now, stop me thinking about the gazillion things I MUST do and help me appreciate what I can do.
  • Finally, one that will start from 10th December, one that I am so excited for and that I believe will have a massively positive impact on my Depressio20171125_110609.jpgn – my new baby girl, Hope. I named her that as I wanted something meaningful from what I have learnt this year. I want to wake up every single morning with a guaranteed bit of Hope in my life. She is my self care saviour, she will look after me as much as I look after her. We connected instantly and I know she is my spirit animal. I can also guarantee one thing – she will be the fittest canine in Teesside! She is a cross between a German Shepherd and a Serbian Defence dog so she will grow to be a big girl! I cant wait for the cuddles, the laughs and seeing the unbreakable bond I know her and Noah will form.

So, that is my list in a nutshell. You may be wondering, but where is running on that list? Where is exercise? That is CC’s ultimate coping mechanism, the one that saved her life, in more ways than one. That there is the reason why it doesn’t feature on a list. It doesn’t as it is not something I can put off, it is something I have to do as a matter of necessity. Currently due to challenges I set myself I am not having any rest days (today was day 28 of #runeveryday November and saw me break through the 400 miles barrier for outside running miles this year!) but even when I do, the maximum I have, for my mental health is 1. Exercise and especially running keeps me balanced. If I have a bad day it keeps me from losing it completely, it gets my blood flowing, it makes me appreciate what my body can do despite me not liking what it looks like. I can celebrate my achievements and it makes me proud to be me. So yes it is self care, but for me, it is so so much more.

On a quick side note from this I need a mini rant. I saw an article on the benefits of running for physical and mental health and being the nosy cow I am I read the comments. Now, this article was featured on a mental health page and to be honest, although I completely understand that everyone is entitled to their opinions, some of these comments were disgusting and should have been monitored! I am aware I am very vocal about fitness and mental health being linked and it is where I want to end up. However I am well aware that it wont work for everyone. All I try to say is exercise comes in many forms, you never know what you might find that you like. For those people who say that if you can run you cant be suffering, well I am trying not to swear in my blogs anymore but F YOU!! Just because I am not taking anti depressants, just because I can motivate myself to do some sort of exercise everyday, just because I am working and going to college DOES NOT MEAN I AM ANY LESS OF A SUFFERER THAN YOU! I have tried everything, tablets (they just don’t work for me) counselling (my counsellor was an angel) and everything else I could think of, because I wanted to get better. I am determined that I will not let this horrible illness dictate my life. I have my bad days, bad weeks even but I fight them as hard as I possibly can. I have days where I want to give up, where I want to quit but I don’t. Exercise saved my life. It helps me clear my mind, it makes me happy. Here is an idea, how about we all support each other, try and fight these illnesses together instead of comparing! I don’t want to be better or worse than anyone. I want us all to be in a place where we can help each other. What works for one, wont work for another and that is completely fine, because we are all different. It is not a bad thing and NO ONE should feel bad for believing what they believe, in any form.

Rant over! I wont apologise as that needed to be said. None of us get out of here alive in the end, let’s enjoy what we can while we can not spend our time judging and bringing down others.

Ok, I think I have babbled on enough for today. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have genuinely enjoyed writing it.

Much Love

CC xxx

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If I can do it, you can! My Half Marathon Mini Series – Day 1

OK, so my new brainchild this morning, my new blog inspiration, is to do a 7 (ish) day series of blogs leading up to, including the and then the day after the Half Marathon. I have put the ish in there, just in case I get side tracked or swamped and I genuinely cant get one typed out. Why? You may ask. Well good question, are you comfortable? Then I shall begin………….

13.1 mile – 21.082km to be exact. This will be, up to this point, the longest I have ran, ever! I decided to do this little blog series to keep my mind off things, to try and control the anxiety and worry that I have over it. I know I can do it and I know I can do it well but that doesn’t mean I can just stop being me and catastrophising it all. What could go wrong? Oh so many things!

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I only started running with any genuine interest in January. I have ran or should I say “ran” on treadmills for a couple of year but never with any real motivation or drive. Just mainly to help whittle the fat and inches off my gut to be fair. Joining RED January saw me take the very tentative step into the great outdoors. It took a few weeks to really get my MOJO with it all, I was very obsessed with weights and HIIT up until this point, but the more I tried it, the more I started to enjoy it. Maybe it was the general mix up of my surroundings? Maybe it was going out with no clear plan of where I was going – just seeing where my feet took me? Whatever it was, that love started to grow, until I was signing up for an organised 10km race and before I had even done that, a bloody Half Marathon. Any one that knows me knows I don’t do things by halves. I just get swept up in it all. To add pressure to myself, as I so love to do, I decided I would do it for charity. Because running 13.1 mile isn’t a challenge unless you give yourself a generous fundraising target to obsess about – FML!

Now, 6 days until I go out there, the sudden realisation of what I have done is becoming clear. I am no athlete that is for sure. I am still the wrong side of 11 stone for my height and not even at my lightest this year. My training has been very hit and miss, with my longest distance ran so far only being 8.7 mile. Add into this lovely bowl of craziness, the fact my sleep patterns range from not enough to I need a caffeine IV and my Depression giving my brain good old daily left hooks and elbow drops – well it’s not really a recipe for the most successful or tastiest cake.

BUT

This is exactly why I want to go out and do this. I want to set myself a precedent. That despite all the things that I see as being against me, I can still go out there and do it! I have been fixating on times I think, a bit too much. Under 2.5 hours would be great but I wanted to aim for under 2. Now, I have had to begrudgingly remove those factors as they are starting to take over my life. Every run before today has seemed harder than usual as I was so fixated on my pace. Today, as I was poorly yesterday, I decided to take it easy and just get out there. I had no idea of how far I wanted to go or how long I would run for. I decided to just do what felt right. I smashed out a 5.5km in 31 minutes and I loved it! I had a genuine smile on my face all the way round. My playlist was freakishly motivating, like it knew I needed a little support. The air was calm, the streets were quiet and the colours around me were simply stunning. I do love the colours of Autumn, the reds, yellows and oranges. They remind me of fire, of strength and of life; which is pretty ironic as it is actually the leaves dying :-/

Anyway, I even managed to bang out a PB with my lap of my favourite park. This morning was good. The pain in my brain ceased as I was running, yes it came back when I stopped but it didn’t seem so annoying anymore. I had something positive to focus on. That is how I beat my Depression. How I manage to keep myself on an even keel. I look for the positives. Depression HATES positives. If I could have a chat with him I reckon it would go something like this:

D: You do know there is no point in you going out there? You messed up last week, you are just going to fail again!

CC: Nope. I am just going to go out and see what I can do. No pressure.

D: No pressure? Behave woman, pressure is all you know! Get another cup of coffee, curl up on the sofa and sit and feel sorry for yourself. You know you want to…….

CC: The appeal of a cup of coffee may be tempting but NO! I am lacing up my shoes and I am going for it. Starting my week right!

D: I’d say good luck but you need more than luck. Don’t know who you think you are? Thinking you can have it all. Get a grip! Get back to your little office job and no aspirations. You are getting on a bit now, what’s the point in starting again? 

CC: Fuck you Depression *slams front door – loudly!* 

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I truly believe that anyone can do whatever they want to do if they are willing to dig deep and just try. Nothing worth having ever comes easy and from my experience the best things in life hurt the most! Childbirth ladies?! It might happen successfully first time round, it might be something that takes a few attempts. I think it all depends on how much you genuinely want it. I wont let not being perfect stop me. I wont let my mental health issues have more control than is necessary. I can fight every bad day but if I get a few decent kidney jabs in on my good days I reckon I have a pretty decent chance of eventually winning the war. Because I want to. Because I need to.

So, today’s word of the week – FUN. This week I will have as much fun as I possibly can (without risking injury or illness). I want to wake up on Sunday morning simply bursting with motivation and happiness, because I have smashed this week! I may end up not being so much of a long distance runner, I may find that 10k’s are my limit. So I am treating this as a once in a lifetime experience, as who knows what state I will be in come dinner time Sunday. I tell you what though, there will be a massive smile and a thank fuck that is over as I cross that finish line!!

Until tomorrow lovely people.

CC xx

High highs – low lows

Relaxing has always been an issue with me. I just cant seem to be able to sit still for a decent period of time without feeling like I am wasting time or being lazy. When I am sat I am constantly thinking of what I have done and what I need to do, my brain seems to go in to overdrive. Unfortunately a lot of these thoughts aren’t always positive. I start to over analyse everything, I tell myself I could have done this and that better, I put pressure on myself by setting myself even more goals. I start to pick apart my diet and feeling like I haven’t trained well enough and I need to up my game. I start to feel fat and ugly and just generally minging. I don’t know why, it is just the way my brain works. The voices are starting to get quieter but they are there.

This week has had it’s fair share of highlights, World Mental Health Day was fantastic, the feedback I have had since has been lovely too. I passed my first assignment from college which was a massive relief, although to be fair it’s my level 3 assignment I am more concerned about. I am, as I do, aiming for distinctions, however at this moment in time a pass will do me! I also got my gorgeous new tattoo, well had the first sitting………….IMG_20171011_160445_704.jpgAs with all my tattoo’s, this holds significant meaning. The tree is the symbol of me this year, I started as a tiny seed, weak and small but I am growing into a big, strong person. It takes time, it might even take years but leaves are starting to blossom and my branches will continue to multiple. The branches are extensions of me, my exercise, my studies, my volunteer work etc. I had to incorporate my beloved balloons, these are not coloured yet, but after a little squabble with my tattooist, we decided to do them in different colours. I am not black and grey anymore, I am living in bright multi coloured glory. I have a firm grip on my balloons at the moment, the wind is blowing very strongly, a storm may be on its way, but I refuse to let go! It has taken me too long to get them all in one place. My 3 Red Balloons are there, pride of place at the top. A nod to my blog, to my future peer support group and my eventual empire. Those 3 Red Balloons mean more to me than I can ever really put into words. They are my future, my trophy for winning this fight. Finally, there will be one falling brown leaf. My dedication to Depression. I could and I do say a lot of bad things about Depression, it is a horrible illness that I spend my days fighting, every day. However, if it wasn’t for it, if things hadn’t panned out the way they did, I don’t think I would be on this path.

Mainly though, this week I just haven’t been myself at all. I have been very introverted. The noise in my head has been louder than the past few weeks but it just doesn’t make sense yet. Add in the excruciating headache I have now had for 4 days, well it hasn’t been the easiest time. I had planned to do my last long run before my HM next week, which I am starting to worry about to be honest, but I just cant. I know I need this time, I know I need to relax and self care, but for me, exercise IS my self care. I have had the worst week training wise since January and now it’s Sunday I am really feeling it. I feel like I need to pass the reset button. I cant keep dwelling on what I haven’t done, I need to look at all the things I have done, but when you feel so shitty it is so much easier to go into yourself and beat yourself up. Old habits die hard and all that jazz!

So, I have surrounded myself in planning tools and college work. I may not be able to get out there and run today, it would be too dangerous and far too risky being just 7 days away from the HM but that doesn’t mean I cant be productive. I can make sure that the unorganised messiness of this week is not repeated. I get a sense of relief in being able to see what I can do mapped out. As usual blogging is such an important tool for me and I love that I have discovered it. It just gives me that little outlet, to just, rant. Even though I have no idea what I am even ranting about. College is a fantastic addition at the moment as I am just so interested in what I am doing. I am actually looking forward to doing my assignment, which is so relevant to me – how mental health services, attitudes and treatments have changed over the last 100 years. I get so wrapped up in my research! I cant decide if I want to focus more on asylums or post natal depression. As it is an essay I am sure once I start writing, I will be pulled in a particular direction. My problem will be keeping to the word limit! I do get a bit carried away I must admit.

I am still sticking by my decision to not be on anti depressants but I realise that I definitely need to focus more on the things that help me. Yoga has become something I absolutely love. I cant quite explain how but it has such a powerful, positive effect on me. I am absolutely appalling at it and can I hell empty my head but it is just great. As a person who is naughty and doesn’t stretch nearly as much as she should for what she does, it is also physically beneficial.  I have so much on my shoulders now, I need to be strong enough to carry it all. I am only human, I know that but I also know that I work much better under pressure and I have taken on what I can manage, even if it does seem daunting. What I need to remember is not to lose out on fun, in whatever way that may occur. I cant believe that this time next week, my half marathon will be over and done with! Where is this year going??

One thing is for sure, I am determined to make sure that 2018 kicks 2017’s arse. Considering what I have achieved this year, it’s going to be one tough job, but if anyone can do it, I can.

Much Love

CC xx

 

Eating is cheating! Self hate is not so great!

The thing with studying mental health when you suffer with mental health issues is you often come across yourself. You see yourself in a textbook way and it can be quite surreal. Seeing all the things that make you, you, written down so matter of fact. It can create a whole lot of thinking and wondering, if it was this “obvious” how have I gotten this far without professional help. Did people notice and reach out and I just chose not to see it? I am that good an actress? Should I apply for film roles? Ok, I’m going off topic there but hopefully you see my point.

The other thing is it can also highlight things you have tried to ignore, avoid or maybe haven’t even noticed. For me, it was something I do know about myself, I have skirted around the issue a few times maybe but mainly I try to avoid it and it has never been officially diagnosed as I have never made a declaration to anyone professional.

Basically, it is becoming abundantly clear that I suffer from an eating disorder albeit one I am kind of managing myself but as for whether I am doing it the correct way is anyone’s guess. The way I am currently feeling and the things I am doing tells me, most probably not!

I think what has thrown me all these years is I don’t LOOK like I am suffering, I don’t look like I struggle with food apart from not being able to stop scoffing my face. Sorry, negative comment, my counsellor would be very unimpressed with me! No, what I mean is, let’s be honest, when you think of someone with an eating disorder you think – skinny, emaciated, starvation, over exercise (way beyond the levels of what I did), secretive, bones jutting out all over the place, etc. Now, this is not me, not at all. I have a healthy to occasionally overweight BMI, I certainly don’t look like I starve myself, I can be secretive in ways I suppose but basically I look “normal”. I have a massive muffin top, flabby bits and the rest.

The reason I am doing this is, is enough is enough. I need to put this into words, I need to admit I am massively struggling as things are starting to get out of control, my thoughts are getting carried away in a very negative direction and if I don’t stop this train of destruction it will wipe out everything I have tried so hard to build up this year. I cant keep hiding and saying no that’s not me, I am just a typical lass. No, that’s not me, I have stopped making myself sick. No, that’s not me, I am just trying to look my best. Guess what CC, it is you, whether you like it or not! Now is where it stops, now is where you admit you need help and you get it! So here goes, I am Claire and although officially undiagnosed professionally as of yet, I suffer from Bulimia.

Do you know what, I feel absolutely pathetic saying that. I feel like I should go back and delete that last sentence because I am being daft. I feel like I am being overly dramatic and a bit of a hypochondriac but at the same time, the feelings of shame, disgust, fear and genuine deep sadness tell me that I am kidding myself if I go and delete this blog. It would go against my new mantra of always being honest. It would be another aspect of my life I am hiding and I know now that hiding things makes them grow into things that can cause me to lose control, big style. Last time I kept things hidden they grew so much, they became so utterly overwhelming that I was seconds away from making the biggest mistake of my life.

OK, so here goes. How I feel. What I do. As open and as honest as I can be. I do apologise as some of my thoughts can often get quite dark so if you are wary of potential triggers maybe this isn’t the blog for you.

Every lass has issues with themselves, even the most confident. Every lass has days where they feel fat, where they feel bloated, where they feel spotty, greasy, scruffy etc, mostly at certain times of the month. Every lass has outfits that they feel make them look less than their best, have areas of their body that they hide wherever possible. Me? I feel these things every day but sometimes on a much larger scale. For those who follow my Instagram, you must be thinking, what a pile of crap, you’re always posting gym pics, transformation pics, selfies, etc. Yes, very true, I do. I also realise I have made some good progress in the weight loss/fitness side of things. But do you know what? When I look in the mirror I don’t see any of those things. I hate myself. All I see is wobbly, jiggly, fat, disgustingness. I have one angle that I take photo’s in, it is the same pose in EVERY single full length photo as it is the one I have got down to a T where I can just about hide the bits I hate. Plain and simple, I make myself feel sick and not in a million years can I see what people see in me. I understand why I have an issue with accepting compliments, I simply do not believe them! I constantly feel bloated, I feel ugly. I feel shame that I have let myself go again when I got myself to a decent point where  my levels of self hate were kind of in line with pride at all my hard work.

I am in a constant battle of trying to starve myself then giving in and thinking what’s the point so going on a binge. Where I used to be able counter act this with throwing all the binge food up, now I am stuck in a new hell where I cant do this as I made a promise to my family. Now I am stuck in a constant continuous loop of internal arguing with myself. I feel shit, I think what’s the point so I eat. Then I have a rant at myself for giving in and being so weak. I feel disgusting and shameful. This then sends me into a pit of despair that makes me want to eat again. When I threw up I used to stop this argument in its tracks. I would feel a massive release and for a while feel, well good. Like I had won something. I had the best of both worlds. I got to stuff my face but then get rid of it. If throwing up wasn’t working and I was still bloated I would pop laxatives like they were tic tacs. That always got rid of the bloated feeling. The stomach pains were often crucifying but the end result was worth the pain. No pain, no gain right?

The ironic things, that does not escape me, is when I was doing this I was actually over a stone heavier than I am now and about 8 inches wider round the gut. I know how well I have done. I know I have worked hard to get where I am now but I just don’t see it and I no longer feel it. I can feel myself falling back in to my hole and going right back to where I was. I keep looking at old photos when I was at my biggest in the hopes that it will give me that old feeling of the switch clicking but so far it has not worked. I honestly, right now, just want to give in. I do not feel strong enough to fight myself anymore when I am fighting so many other internal battles. Yet, this one is the one that if I can get back to that place that made me believe I could be a Personal Trainer, it will make me stronger and more able to fight the other battles. What a mess!!

I am beginning to get obsessed again. The thoughts are taking over my days and are never far away even when I am trying to focus on something else. If I can see my reflection I think things about myself I would never ever want to think that anyone says or thinks about someone else. When I sit down I feel like I can feel my stomach rolling onto my legs. Sometimes I get so fixated I wish I could take a knife and cut it off. Luckily self harm has never been an issue for me as to be frank I am too much of a wimp. Never thought that would be a good thing! Instead of focusing on the parts of my body I don’t mind, all I can see are the parts I hate, all I think others can see are these exact same parts. I feel like people tell me what they think I want to hear but behind my back are laughing at me.

I don’t want to hate myself anymore. I want my pride back. Hate is such an exhausting emotion. I keep thinking it’s all my fault for having that first rest day when I was on such a good streak. I keep blaming myself for giving up that day and that is why I have put a bit of weight back on, why the parts that were firmer and thinner have now become lumpy again. Why I feel so demotivated and like I am “playing” at fitness being a complete fake. I am writing everything down I eat, every bit of exercise I do. I am not just calorie counting, I am fat, carb and protein counting. I am fixated on how many calories I burn. I measure myself every other day. I weigh myself daily. I obsess over other peoples photos wishing that was me, reading their stories and feeling inferior and no where as good as them. I feel like I am stuck in a loop. Please, someone, grab my hand and pull me out before I corkscrew myself into the ground!

The future of my empire feels like it is hanging in the balance. I cant lose this. This is my life. My reason for moving forward. My gift to my children. I need to get out of this self hate, self pity, shame spiral. I need to create my peer support group. I need to help others. I need to listen to what I tell others! I would never let anyone talk to me and degrade me the way I degrade myself. I am 5 days away from seeing my counsellor and at the moment that feels a million years away. All I want to do is cry and hide away from the world, but I wont. I need to stand in front of that dreaded mirror and have a good, hard look at myself. I need to re read this blog. I need to go back and look over my journey and see if I can see where things went wrong.

I wish there was one of them pens that they use in Men in Black that could erase my mind and help me start again, but unfortunately there isn’t. It is all down to me. I need to re train my brain before something that is so simple could completely destroy my life. I need to be strong. Can I do this?………Time will tell.

 

CC xx