Bucking the trend!

I was reading an article in Women’s Health while I was away about how we don’t “blow our own trumpet” enough and are more likely to dismiss our achievements in order to conform to what society expects us to be like.

I am here today, on this blog to say – sod that!!

If you read this and think I am so far up my own backside then fair enough. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and I certainly don’t appeal to everyone! But today is about me celebrating me! I am my own worst enemy generally, I give myself way too hard a time, slag myself off, put myself down and just generally treat myself like crap 90% of the time. It’s sad but it is very true. I would NEVER treat another person the way I treat myself so why I think it is ok is a mystery to me. Maybe most of it is my mate Depression and his equally horrible bestie Anxiety. They really do have a sick ability to warp your mind! But then maybe a lot of it has been my past experiences and the way my brain has been “trained” to think over the years. I have never ever felt good enough in any aspect of my life. Never clever enough, never pretty enough, never nice enough, etc etc etc. I am sick to death of never being enough so today I am going to prove to MYSELF that I am enough. In fact, I can be pretty damn amazing at times!

So, it’s been 1 month since I last posted on here. I have missed the clicky clack of the keys way more than I realised. In that month, it has been a whirlwind! So, in no particular order, here are a few things I have achieved:

  • Passed my Access to Higher Education with a Merit overall! This means I am OFFICIALLY starting University to study Psychology next month! WOW!
  • I am meeting with the PR people of the Great North Run today as part of Red Balloons and Mind volunteer as they possibly want to use my story as promotional material! They will be filming and interviewing me and people who have kindly agreed to say a few nice things about what I am doing. Nervous as hell!
  • Red Balloons is sponsoring a match ball for the local football team
  • I pitched at Stockton Soup and managed to raise £160 from donations as well as gain some fantastic contacts.
  • Permission has been granted to run my Community Rounders Tournament on Bank Holiday and so far interest has been good!
  • I have been accepted onto a level 2 distance learning course in Counselling Skills
  • I have been chosen as a Mind Media Awards Shortlister for the Entertainment category! Not only do I get to read some simply inspirational stories, I get an opinion on who may win an award! I also get an invite to the awards themselves in November!

I look over that list and in one way I feel like I am reading about someone else. But no, that is all me! I have other projects in the pipeline too around helping mental health in my local area. I am so proud! I don’t do any of this for acknowledgement, but I deserve to be proud and feel comfortable shouting about what I am doing because I work damn hard! I FINALLY truly love what I do, and the fact that I can help others, well that alone is the biggest accomplishment I could ever ask for!

August is not going to be the quiet time that I was expecting and I am actually over the moon about that. I love being busy, I love being useful. I love brainstorming ideas, meeting people, discussing ideas and every single day growing a little bit more.

I have just come back from a 2 week unexpected holiday and for the first time in 2 years, I properly let myself go. I ate what I wanted, I drank enough to sink a fleet of ships and I didn’t really exercise at all. The thoughts were there but I just didn’t. Yes, yesterday had me feeling crappy especially as an epic headache put a pause on my first planned run. I was starting to slip into that place where I would wallow and this in turn would end up with me in a bad place. That I can spot these things now is an amazing thing for me. It shows I am finally getting the hang of controlling my thoughts a bit more (thank you CBT!) So, I made a plan! Not a detailed one as I realise I have been putting far too much pressure on myself.

I set my alarm for 430am and surprisingly got up without even snoozing my alarm once! I had my usual bucket of black coffee then laced up my trainers and got out for my first run in over 2 weeks. I was stiff, it was difficult but 2 miles later and I was done! Yes, I set off too fast but so what? Yes I ache now, but to me that is a pain of satisfaction! And I know what I need to work on. I was honestly beginning to think I had lost my love of running but I know now I had just dulled my spark. I was focusing on the wrong things and beating myself up every time I thought I had failed. There is no such thing as failure if you simply try! Sometimes trying is the hardest thing you will do in a day.

So there we go. CC’s trumpet has been well and truly blown today and I personally think it was a hell of a good tune! It does feel weird and I will no doubt feel like a self obsessed idiot when I publish this (Rome wasn’t built in a day after all) but I bucked the trend. I gave a proverbial finger to anyone who thinks it is wrong to shout about how awesome you are!

Thanks Depression, you are definitely changing me for the better! Whether you like it or not! Thank goodness for my stubborn streak  😉

Love

CC xx

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A letter to my past self……

Dear little CC,

I know sometimes you think that there is no point any more. I know since you were small you have often felt like you lived in the shadows. That to be brutally honest it was the safest place to be at times, out of the way. Making no noise, crying silently into your pillow wondering why all this was happening.

I know it can be scary, hearing things you cant see. Your imagination running riot and turning up the music as loud as you can without drawing attention to yourself. I know you think you should be able to do something to help, that in some ways you even think somehow it is all your fault. It was never your fault. None of it. You were just a child.

What you will learn is that life can be really cruel. It will shot a lot of awful stuff at you. People will hurt you. Physically, emotionally and mentally. You will retreat. You will numb yourself to save yourself from the pain. Yes, the physical pain hurts but the real pain is the emotional pain. This is what will make you who you become. It will shape your future as you will be able to use your experience, your empathy and your honesty to help others. You have to learn to talk first. This will be one of the hardest lessons that you ever have to learn. How to talk and to attach emotion to things in your life, things you spent so long detaching yourself from.

There will be people that you put your trust in, who you lean on and who you love, that will leave you. Some reasons will be easy to understand, some will be heart breaking, some will be frustrating and some you just need to blow a kiss to the door closing behind them as they don’t deserve to be in your life. Trust me, I know there will be times when you feel so lonely, that you feel like you have pushed people away but you will be left with the most amazing people in your life. The one’s who love and support you in every way. Who are with you through the good, the bad and the absolutely ugly. You will drive them batty in every way as you are a hormonal nightmare! A complete mardy mare! But not once, even the newest people to enter your life, not once will they even think about ditching you or walking away. These are the people that are worth their weight in saffron!

CC, you are not broken, you are not wired wrong, you didn’t do anything to deserve the cards that were dealt, it was just how life panned out for you. What is important to remember is, it is an illness. Depression, anxiety and all the others, they are illnesses. You couldn’t have prevented them any more than you could have stopped catching a cold. The thing that you will do different is you wont succumb. You nearly will. It will very nearly destroy you. You will feel like you have lost everything. But you will fight. You will change and grow and turn all the negatives into positives.

You will live your life completely arse over tit. First baby at 19, married at 25, baby number 2 at 27. Then after a pretty much complete depressive breakdown at 32, you will realise that it is time for YOU. You will realise just how much you have to live for. You will reach people through a blog, through your volunteer work, through TV and radio and social media. You will be honest and real including sweaty, crazy selfies that show just how much exercise helps you. This will be your calling, this will be your reason for being. You will start university, yes university, at the ripe age of 33 so that you can go on and help people who have suffered like you. You will achieve things you never thought possible. You will be win awards and run half marathons and fundraise for charity.

CC, bad days will always be there. There will be days where you feel fat, ugly, worthless, lonely, unloved, hurt and all the rest. Depression is a liar! It will trick you, it will make you tired, it will make you lose motivation, it will have you thinking you should quit what you are doing because you think you will fail. DONT QUIT! Every time a voice in your head tells you “you cant” do something, you will go ahead and do it! You will get called stubborn but let me tell you, that is one hell of a quality to have. It is what will keep you alive and keeping you fighting, not just you but for everyone else who suffers.

You will make a difference CC. You will help more people than you could ever realise because you will be you. In full, raw and uncut honesty. You don’t sugar-coat anything. You are straight to the point, no bushes beaten, you say what you think, sometimes before you actually think, but you are sincere. You love with all your heart and you will give everything your all. You will put yourself out there, you will receive criticism and everyone will have an opinion on you and your life but you can handle it. The good and the bad as it is all for a higher purpose. It is all in the hope that one small raindrop can eventually cause a tidal wave and mental health stigma will be fought.

Dry your eyes CC, put that cheeky smile on your face and remember, bad things happen to good people but those good people take them and use them. You are in charge of you and who you become. You are strong and you are independent and Depression will not define you.

You will be proud to be you one day CC!

Love

Today CC xx

 

Barriers

Barriers are everywhere! They are a nuisance even if they are there for a reason. They stop you leaving a car park without faffing on having to pay, they stop you sneaking into your favourite places for free (I would assume, not that I have ever done that…… ahem), they stop you from getting close to Tom Hardy at public events! But the worse barriers are those that you put up yourself, in your mind. They stop you realising your full potential, they stop you trying new things, they delay spontaneity, they make you believe you are not worthy of what is on the other side. They are basically a pain in the backside!

Now there are loads of different barriers I could talk about, but as I am all about the healthy lifestyle and exercise I bet you know where I am going with this. Yep, the fact that so many people seem to actually FEAR physical activity. Setting up Red Balloons and it being what it is, I expected it to be a slow burner. The thing is, I believe 100% in what I am offering and I WILL make a difference. Red Balloons WILL be a success. I want to make exercise fun, easily accessible, something that people WANT to do, not just need to do. The benefits far outweigh any negatives.

So, lets look at the barriers that could be affecting people. I am one of these people, I have broke through many to get where I am, but let’s be honest, there will always be another one somewhere along the line. What changes is your ability to believe in how strong you are, the belief that you can smash through this barrier, like the others. Instead of looking and focusing on the problem, you will look for a solution. It is all a form of training your brain to access that confidence and motivation. It is not a quick journey and it sure as hell isn’t easy. I am over 2 years into mine and I still have so much else I need and want to do. They say patience is a virtue, it may well be, but it is a bloody hard skill to learn. Yes, a skill because without it life gets a lot more messy in my experience.

Barriers I have discovered/learnt:

  • Confidence
  • Motivation
  • Cost
  • Thinking your fitness levels aren’t up to scratch
  • Social anxiety
  • Physical ailments
  • Lack of access to facilities
  • Thinking that it will be like school (I HATED PE and all I would do is walk or dance like a tool)

There are many more than this, you may have your own and I know you will be aware of them. Some people may call them excuses, to a degree I would sometimes be inclined to agree in certain circumstances but they are your personal battle. No one has the right to belittle them, make you feel bad for thinking like that. No one knows what is going on in your mind or your life. I have learnt and proved that NO ONE knows what is going on behind closed doors. This is why I want to help, support and encourage. Yes these battles may seem completely impossible to win but I am here to say “Yes you can”. We can always find a way. Screenshot_20180310-091114.jpg

You don’t have to be a member of a gym or a running club, do you know what? You don’t even have to leave the house! Although I will say, I do strongly encourage even 5 minutes outside somehow for its other benefits, Vitamin D for example. The biggest part of this whole process is finding something that you enjoy. It may be yoga, it may be an aerobic video, it could be dancing round like a loony with the kids (one of my favourite things to do ever!), it could be walking the dog, going for a run or shotting weights around. In regards to gear, you don’t need fancy gym stuff in the house, you don’t need the latest Tikiboo leggings and whatever trainers are advertised as “the best”. Saying that though, I am craving the new Nike Reacts! But what I mean is, look around you and see what you could do. Try squats when waiting for the kettle to boil, lunges (are the devil) during an advert break, step ups on your stairs while the kids are brushing their teeth. All these little things add up and cost nothing, the added bonus, no one will even see you. But you will have that little feeling of, yes, I did that. Every day your confidence will grow a little bit more and something new could be added.

Another tip, what have you always wanted to do? Get back into swimming? Run 5km? Learn to lift weights? Go to a class? Learn a full dance routine to one song? Join a gym? Write it down. Somewhere you can see it pretty much every day. I am a fan of Post It notes for these kind of things as they are shiny and colourful. Having an ultimate goal, no matter how impossible it might seem at that moment in time, can be the ultimate motivation. Try and imagine how you will feel when you smash it. That sense of absolute euphoria, confidence, pride, general amazingness. On your bad days, try and focus on these feelings. The important thing is doing what you want to do, what you will enjoy. You cant do something because someone tells you it is good, or that it helped them, or that it is the newest trend. Enjoyment is key because then it isn’t scary any more, it isn’t a chore. That will be what reaps the biggest results. Trust me, I have been there.

Ok, let’s be honest. We all have bad days. Days where we barely want to open our eyes never mind do anything. What I need to say is, this is ok too. Have a bad day, embrace the bad day, do whatever it is that you need to do to self care. Rest is essential to a healthy lifestyle. I know to those that actually know me, I am being a huge hypocrite right now as I struggle massively with this part of my life, I actually need help to relax. I need people to pretty much force me to stop and even then I cant always enjoy it. My illness forces me to believe that if I stop I wont start again, so I go too far the other way and risk burning myself out. As horrible as it can be, sometimes you have to go in your head and listen to those voices that the louder voices try to continuously swamp. Those small voices are you! The loud voices are whatever issue you may be dealing with. Those loud voices WANT you to fail. They want you to believe you cant do this, that you are not worthy of trying to do something. I am telling you, you are!

The first step isn’t doing the moving or the exercise, or even believing you can. The first step is wanting to. Do you want to be fitter? Do you want to be stronger? Do you want to want to manage your weight and learn more about a healthier lifestyle? If you do, then you have started your journey. Well Done! That is the hard part over. Now, it’s time to start planning. This is where you may need help and support. This is where I, or your family and friends, or your GP or whoever is available in your area come in. I am here to help you believe in yourself, I am here to help shout the message of how exercise is essential for mental well being as much as it is for physical benefits. I am my own walking case study. I am doing this all from my own journey. I know the hard parts, the darkest days, the days where you feel a failure. But I also know the amazing days, where you beat your internal enemies, where the endorphins make you feel superhuman, when you hit a mini target you have set.

So, get that sledgehammer and SMASH that first wall. You CAN do this, you WILL do this and I cant wait to be on this journey with you. I have my cheerleader outfit and pom Screenshot_20180310-091022.jpgpoms at the ready! Woooo, go you!!

Hugs

CC xx

Why Red Balloons? Well, let me tell you…

I’ve been blogging a while now, well at least attempting to come across as a blogger when really all I feel is like someone who spouts randomness but is lucky that some people like to read it! A lot has changed since my first blog and I get asked quite often, “What is Red Balloons?” “What are you about?” etc so I decided, now that I have a few new readers and I have officially launched Red Balloons as a living, breathing entity, I would explain who I am and what I do, as well as why. A little insight to the crazy world of CC!

Very brief history, I have suffered from Depression for many years now, although extremely luckily for me, it was quite deep under the surface. I had ways of managing it where I could even forget I actually had it. Last year though, I had the worst flare up I have had in over 13 years. A flare up that very nearly cost me my life. My metaphorical bath was over flowing at an alarming pace and I could not see a way to let the water out safely. All of the things I had tried so hard to bury in my lifetime were determined to escape. Quite simply, they were too strong and I broke, into several pieces.

Luckily again, my attempt was unsuccessful. If I didn’t believe in Guardian Angels before, I certainly do now. And what I have realised is, it wasn’t my time. I have things I need to do here, things to achieve, people to help, a difference to make somehow, even if only a tiny one.

Counselling and my lovely friend introduced me to writing as a form of therapy and from there, this blog was born. My first blog post got 21 views. I was over the moon! I don’t write for others, unless asked for a blog piece for a particular reason, but that people chose to read what I had wrote was a lovely feeling. I began to feel that maybe if I could explain what was going on in my life, it could help someone else who was suffering, it could help someone not feel so isolated and alone, it could help those who have never really had any dealings with Depression or other mental health issues understand a little bit more. Although the word is getting louder, mental health problems are still HUGELY stigmatised. I am determined to keep campaigning for as long as is necessary to try and ease this stigma, a mental health issue can be just as crippling as a physical condition. Just because you cant see it, or maybe dont understand it, it does not mean the damage is any less severe, that the pain is any less than that of a broken limb.

So, why the name? The Red part, although coincidentally my favourite colour, was in homage to RED January. This charity event as such (to do some sort of physical exercise every day for the whole of January) was such an instrumental part of getting me onto the path I am on now. It was the very start of me being able to mix my passions, mental health and fitness, as well as being able to raise over £300 for Mind. It was the start of me giving back, doing my bit to help in any way possible. Through RED, I have met a whole new family, I am part of an amazing community who I am so proud of! We celebrate each other, support each other, virtually hold each other up when we are not strong enough to do it ourselves. EVERYONE should have a community like RED. I truly believe the world would be that bit nicer a place!

Balloons? Well in the spirit of me being different my version of the balloon metaphor is the opposite of the standard image. As a rule, the balloons signify being able to let go. You put your worries/stresses into the balloon and then you let them go. Yeah, I supposed I get that. For me though, every balloon signifies a part of my life. When things start to go a bit tits up, a balloon breaks free and starts to float away. I lose control. I need to chase that balloon to catch it, to get it back in the bunch where it belongs. I need to take control and hold on firmer. Sometimes more than one balloon breaks free and it can seem nearly impossible to chase them all down, but I don’t give in until all balloons are caught and back as close to me as possible. Also, balloons are a sign of fun, of freedom, of happiness. How can you not smile at a big bunch of gorgeous Red Balloons??

From the blog, I went on to approach Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind to do more charity events for my local service. I have now successfully raised over £1000 for them through a 10km and my very first (brutal) Half Marathon. During the chat I got taken on as a volunteer, first for anti stigma, then peer support and finally, recently for Active Minds (all info can be found on their website 🙂 ) It was during certain discussions that a tiny idea I had, of what I would love to be able to offer, became public. Exercise had saved my life, in more ways than one. I wanted to show how exercise could benefit you so much mentally as much as physically. That you didn’t need to be ripped or a marathon runner or anything to be able to utilise it’s benefits. Everyone starts somewhere! Exercise, physical activity should be fun, not a chore. You should WANT to do it. It might start off a bit hard to get used to making time to begin with but if you persevere it WILL become a habit. It gives you time for you, doing something that only has good results.

Mind saw the passion I had, saw potential in my idea and encouraged me to go forward for my group facilitation and peer support qualification. I was also on the development team for National Mind’s new peer support toolkit. My confidence and belief started to grow so I decided to take the opportunity with both hands and take the leap. I set up a Facebook page to start to send the message out. Through an amazing friend, I managed to secure the perfect venue, that support me and my ideas. Then it was time, Red Balloons is now a fully fledged, active, physical, peer support group! I now have the exciting yet nerve wracking job of ringing HMRC and making it all “official” and opening bank accounts etc. The business side of it, not the most thrilling tasks but all exciting in their own way!

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A brief description of what happens at one of my sessions, it is a mix of discussion and activities designed to get you moving. The activities will be chosen weekly by members, it could be anything from stretching to circuits to a team sport like rounders. All activities will be able to be scaled to a persons fitness/physical ability or an alternative option offered. Discussion wise, this is where people can be as open as they like or just listen. We will discuss barriers of exercise, why we feel people are wary of physical activity, discuss ideas to get us moving. I want my members to have ideal goals, maybe it will be to run a 5km, maybe it will be gaining the confidence to join a gym, maybe it is to make a personal pledge that they will do something for a certain amount of time a day. I want them to brag about their accomplishments, to speak excitedly about potential ideas, to be honest about how it is helping them or about anything that may be worrying them. I want to create a safe, open place where the emphasis is on being healthy, in all aspects, mind, body and soul. I want to be able to help people realise their true potential and to believe in themselves. I want to gain just as much knowledge and support from my members as I am able to offer them. I want to trap a sense of community spirit. Getting people to get together, to talk, to have fun, to get active, to support and to encourage.

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It is very early days, I am riddled with self doubt sometimes but what I do have is passion and a huge belief in what I am offering. I want Red Balloons to float nationwide eventually. I have high hopes and big dreams. Sometimes I think maybe I am being too ambitious. But no, ambition is ingrained in me, as is the want, the need, to help others and give back in any way I can. I will do whatever is needed to get these balloons as high as they possibly could go!

So, in a nutshell, that is Red Balloons. My dream for a better life. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, details below. If anyone is in a place where they could help spread the word, newspapers etc, please get in touch. Your help and support would be hugely appreciated. On that note, I shall leave that here. Looking forward to Red Balloons third session on Tuesday 😀

Much Love

CC xx

email: ccoulthard0413@gmail.com

Facebook: Red Balloons

Instagram: @girlwiththe_redballoon

Twitter: @balloons_red

Why I run

I started this blog back in April as a way to supplement the weeks I wasn’t seeing my counsellor and to set my self targets/goals. I could basically either brag about myself or moan, regular readers will know it has been a journey that would make one interesting rollercoaster. I suppose in a way it is my safe place where I can say what the hell I want, because it is all mine. I am acutely aware that people do upon occasion read my random musings and I am so grateful. I just want to say that anything I say is never meant to offend, upset, trigger or affect negatively in any way. It is just me, being me. 100% raw, honest CC.

Now, what I have begin to realise more and more is that misery attracts misery. I am, wherever I possibly can be, a massively positive person. Someone could have me on the floor, kicking me in the ribs and if I liked their shoes I would tell them……. before punching them in the private area. Yet recently I have started to become very self depreciating, very angry and mopy and just generally a bit of a miserable cow! A frown doesn’t suit my English dandelion complexion! However, from a blog point of view, I have started to hit some of my highest views and visitor numbers. To be honest this kind of unsettles me and leaves me in a bit of a limbo. I am so very proud of my blog. I am never fake, I never lie, I never beat around the proverbial bush. I appreciate so much anyone that reads Red Balloons. I hope that me being so open and honest can help people. That it can make people aware of mental health issues and how it could affect them or how it could be affecting some round them. Maybe I shouldn’t be rocking the boat. Maybe I should just accept that some blogs will get more attention than others. I just want the positive side of things, the fight side, the fact that ill mental health does not have to dictate who you are and what you can achieve to be what shines through.

Anyway, having went for a trip round the block to get to the point of this blog, to get started. This will be a HUGELY positive blog, because today I feel positive. In fact, I feel like CC. I feel happy. Genuinely happy. I feel like I have made myself proud. I feel good. I have been more productive today before 11am than I have for the last few weekends, in total! And do you know the secret? Ssssshhhhhhh. Listen carefully……………. it’s because I could run!

I was laid in bed this morning, a habit I am starting to develop that I need to nip in the bud asap! I was feeling utterly lazy. I wasn’t hungover, I hadn’t slept great but it wasn’t the worst I have slept, I just couldn’t be arsed. Scrolling through Facebook as you do, and I was reading all the posts from my awesome RED community and I could see so many of them getting ready for park runs and long training runs and I started to get itchy feet! What was this? It’s been a while! The sun was streaming in the window, I knew it was cold but it looked like a gorgeous morning. I wanted to be out there! Right now. Yet, it still felt like a bit of a challenge to actually move from horizontal to vertical. So, I decided to make myself accountable. And how do you do that these days? You post your plan on Facebook! So it was 0739, I would get my arse out of bed in 6 minutes (I like nice round numbers) and I would go! No distance, no time, I would just run. To see what I could do.

Clock turned 0745 and that was it, I was up, with an encouraging arse kick by MB’s comment. “Go!” Yes, Go CC! Gym gear on, headphones in, my running playlist on loud, out the door and off I went! Not even a coffee first. I didn’t dare. This motivation feeling has been sadly lacking for a while now.

First thought, f*”k me, it’s flipping freezing! To begin my feet felt heavy, like I was having to concentrate on just getting one foot in front of the other, but as my legs started moving, my body started to warm up, my breath started to become hoarser, I could feel the smile on my lips getting bigger, bit by bit. I decided to run a route that I find visually stunning. The sun was blaring down on me and with every step I could feel all the tension, all the negativity of the last few weeks starting to lift. I found myself saying morning to people as they walked their dogs. I haven’t done that for a long time. I found my lips singing along to the songs playing loudly in my ears. It got easier with every metre. I have to listen to my body at the minute, I have had so many different twinges and injuries and illnesses, I didn’t want to exasperate any of them. I kept waiting for the familiar Achilles twinge, the calf tightness, but they didn’t come! I could keep going! I could feel my confidence oozing back, I could feel my brain starting to switch off for the first time in what feels like forever! All that was in my head was the music and the appreciation of being able to run somewhere so lovely.

I honestly expected to have to stop relatively early. 1km came and went, 2km, ok get to 2 mile CC, that will be fab considering what you have been doing. But no, I kept going. Because I could, because I was truly enjoying it, because I wasn’t ready to stop yet. 4km came and went and then, finally, at a point where my chest was saying come on, don’t push it, 5km hit! Yesssssss!!!! After nearly coughing up a lung, I couldn’t help myself and did a little dance on the spot. Go on CC! You are back baby!

5km might not seem a lot to some people. You might think 5km shouldn’t have been such a milestone for me considering it wasn’t that long ago that I was running them daily just because. Today though, I felt like I climbed a mountain. I feel like I have FINALLY smashed through the mental block I have had recently. It felt flipping amazing! I was singing (well miming, no way I would subject the public to my strangled cat tones) and had a proper spring in my step on the walk home. I was so tempted to do Glee style dancing but I resisted, just! I got the biggest genuine smiley selfie I have done in ages, IMG_20180224_091037_533.jpgeven I admit my eyes look shiny. Yes the laughter lines of my 30’s are suddenly becoming very apparent, but I just see that as a good thing. It reminds me, I love to smile. I love even more to laugh. It’s the best medicine. I started planning my day, but not in a “eurgh, I need to do this” it was an “OK, first I will do this, then this”.

Today is going to be filled with music. Loud music. Currently listening to some Soft Cell – Tainted love. What a tune! I don’t always listen to rave and chavvy stuff haha but I will never be ashamed that I do because I love it! It is going to be filled with college work and planning for next week’s Red Balloons session. It is going to be filled with healthy food, lots of coffee but more importantly, a tonne of smiles. I will talk to lush friends, laugh and just be content to be me, in this moment. Yes, there will be bad days, of course there will, I have an illness. Yet, a day like today can make those bad days and bad thoughts that little bit easier to handle. Good day memories can put a fluffy, shiny edge on a dark, sharp day. That is what gets me through. That is what keeps me going………

That is why I run!

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Have a weekend that is filled with as much positivity, love and laughter as you can. If you are feeling low or bad though, don’t be ashamed. This will pass. Until it does though, I am here.

Lots of sunny smiles

CC xx

 

 

Darkness and Light

It’s going to be one those blogs where I am probably repeating a load of stuff I have said before but what I have started to realise is, that is exactly as it should be. I cant just say my bit once, draw a line and get on with things as that is not real life. If it was, well we would be carrying a lot less baggage as individuals! Imagine the ability to just be able to process something, analyse, evaluate and get rid of the thing that is driving you mad?! First time!! Wow! What a world we would live in!

Since we don’t, or at least I don’t, I obviously cant speak for everyone (although the way my gob goes ten to the dozen you would think I’d give it a damn good go!) I will just have to ramble away because, well put simply, because I want to! At the end of the day, you don’t need to read this but it has become something I need to do.

I do think it will be a blog of 2 halves. I am not all sad. I am not struggling with everything. Good, no, amazing things have been happening which are signs that although I feel like I am dragging myself through quicksand at the minute, I am still making progress. The cogs are still turning, the “bigger picture” is still being painted. The foundations are being put in place, maybe the builders are just having a break? Oh, they must be the council! *jokes*

OK, do I start with what the good or the bad bits? My head is very swirly at the minute and it can be hard to make things make sense so bear with me. I suppose I like to end my blogs on a positive note so lets go with the crappy bits. Why not ey? We all love a good rant. Now, where did I put my soap box??

I am SICK TO DEATH of feeling like crap! If it is not one thing, it is another and it is seriously starting to peeve me off! I NEED to exercise. I have to. I know this might sound utterly ridiculous to a lot of people but I quite literally need it to get through the day. It is my stress release, my feel good, my motivation, my pride, my success story. Without it, all my dominoes seem to fall at an alarming pace! Now, I know when you are injured or poorly you have to rest. Yeah that is fair enough. I didn’t always do that last year and I paid a small price some days. Yet this year I am doing as I should, but because I have been either ill or injured pretty much since New Year, I feel like my training and my fitness levels have decreased significantly. I feel like I am being punished for not being as strict with myself, that then makes me feel shame and crappy for “making excuses”. Then this kicks off my body issues. I start to see things again that people say aren’t there. There is a second chin, another tyre on the belly, my thighs are getting bigger, the bum I have worked so hard for is changing back. The list goes on. If you stood me in front of a mirror with a sharpie to mark the parts I currently dislike, well it would be an interesting picture. Screenshot_20180222-075639.jpg

I know this is all in my head. The fact that my scales have broke at home is probably a blessing as I cant weigh myself everyday. But for me it is torture because I cant weigh myself everyday. I have no idea if what I think is even right. So I start to overthink and it becomes of course you are right. All that hard work gone. It’s a tiring process honestly. I don’t want to be skinny/thin etc. What I want is be strong and healthy. What I want is to look in a mirror and see a body I am proud of. I want my mind to be healthy and focused and on point. All of this only happens for me when I can exercise. Addicted? Maybe. But as I have previously said, I am damn sure there are a lot worse things to be addicted to, especially with the frame of mind I am in at the moment.

I need to get out of this shame and disgust spiral and grab my motivation and determination back with both hands. I have the time, in a way, to train like a beast so you know what? As soon as this bloody cold does one, that is exactly what I am going to do! Ok, I am not where I wanted to be by this point in 2018 but do you know what? I am Queen of the Comebacks!

I got an email today that actually helped me see sense a bit (follow and subscribe to blurtitout.org if you suffer from depression or anxiety etc. Brilliant!) The quote below  was like it was written personally for me:

“Being busier than busy itself can bring with it a sense of pride, a feeling of purpose, and usefulness.

Not forgetting too, that resilience, ball juggling, passion, and grit, are all qualities and skills to be admired, at the right time.

But do you know what else is admirable, the ability to know when to stop.

And then stopping.

Because we all need to stop at some point; to refuel, for maintenance, for repairs.

It’s the knowing when to stop before ill health demands that we stop, that’s the tricky bit.

That stopping bit?
It’s far from easy.
There will always be eleventy billion things to do in this conveyor belt of life, people to see, deadlines, bills, things.

But there is only one you. 

And you are much more important than you give yourself credit for.”

I might not believe it right now, but yes! I am!

So, lets change it round for the last part of this blog. Because I am a positive person and these things are what keep me going. This weeks achievements:

  • I held my very first, very own, peer support group, aptly named Red Balloons (of course). I was incredibly nervous. My faith in myself faltered constantly. What started as a tiny seed of an idea in my mind many months ago has grown into reality! Stood outside the gates waiting for any members who might turn up, I wanted to run away. I genuinely thought I couldn’t do it. I was kidding myself. Fast forward 1 hour later and I was elated! 5 people turned up. 5! I was over joyed. We talked, I explained what Red Balloons was and why I wanted to set it up. We made plans as to what we wanted to do next week. They thanked me. They were smiling! Did I help? Even a little bit? I really hope so. I know this will be a slow process, especially with it having a fitness element. People are nervous of exercise. One thing I do have though is PASSION. I genuinely believe in what I am doing and I am determined to shout the message as loud as I can to anyone who is willing to listen. I cant wait to see what next week brings!
  • I got a conditional offer to DURHAM UNIVERSITY!!!! Now, it is subject to certain grades which, honestly, I wont achieve now. That hasn’t dragged me down though as firstly to get the grades I have been getting with what has been going on, well I am chuffed to bits! That Durham even wanted to offer me and place has made my actual year! That they could see in my application that if I could get the right grades they would be happy to have me as a student? Wow! Secondly, my heart was already set on Teesside. It makes sense from a practical point but I just feel with what I am part of with the Steering Group and meeting some of the lecturers, it just felt right. I am at an Open Day there to see all about the Psychology side of things and I really cant wait. I have been ordering Sports and Exercise Psychology books already as I want to get a firm understanding and a good footing to be able to explain exactly what I want to do and why. It’s a very exciting time! One I NEVER believed I would ever have an opportunity to experience.

So yeah, I am feeling crappy, I am really struggling on mornings when they used to be the best time of day for me, but this is a blip. I know it is. I can change things round. Look what I have managed to do in less than 1 year already!Screenshot_20180222-075730.jpg

Lastly, I just want to say a MASSIVE thank you. Thank you to my close friends who hold me up when I am slipping down, who have stood by me through the bad times. Thank you to new friends who I am loving getting to know and who are bringing new laughter and experiences into my life, thank you to my virtual friends who are always there to support me, give me a kudos, tell me I am doing a great job. Such an amazing community. Thank you to those that came to Red Balloons. Thank you to Mind Middlesbrough and Stockton for setting me on the right path and helping in anyway they can. And lastly, thank you lot, who are still here at word 1602 reading my thoughts and feelings. You are all amazing and I am sincerely grateful to have you all as part of my life, one way or the other.

So, here is to Thursday! Hope you all have a fantastic day in any way you can

Much Love

CC xx

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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