Exercising for a better mental health

I still smile. I have to

Sunday 15th March 2020 (3.02pm)

This sums me up perfectly at the moment.

I’m sat in my usual coffee shop with Olly and feeling the need to write. Not sure why I feel so rubbish when things have been going so well lately. Maybe that is why, maybe I am not supposed to have a glimmer of happiness. Maybe I am not allowed to move on. Maybe meeting someone new wasn’t meant to be. Maybe it felt too right. Maybe this is how it’s going to be. Sadness and vulnerability overshadowing peace, happiness and joy. Hiding behind my cap, hiding behind Olly. Wanting to run, but bound by life. Needing to move away from here, but not knowing where. Stuck in my head, kicking and fighting, but at the moment, there is no way out.

Yet in the photo above I still smile. I have to x

No (wo)mans land

Friday 28th February 2020 (1235pm)

In my early years of blogging I used to score my mood (as recommended by my therapist at the time). I haven’t done this for a while but if I was to score today I would probably be a 3/10. Not sure why? I have just been swimming and now sat in Starbucks with my daily hot chocolate. I have something to read but not in the mood. I have swam 10k over the last 5 days which I am happy with but today felt like more of a process than enjoyment. I am going out for food tonight with friends, something which I have been looking forward to but now feel that I have no motivation to go. I will though. The weather is grim outside which does not help anyone.

My therapist who I see weekly says that I am grieving. A topic which I will look into and write about one day. I agree that I am, unable to put aside what I have recently lost with feelings, emotions and thoughts all over the place. Just lost in no (wo)mans land with nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, no one to confide in.

Feel shit really.

That will do.

For now.

The reasons why I run?   Part 1 – The early years

Wednesday 19th February 2020 (1102am)

I have been asked to put something together on a similar line for a magazine and it got me thinking about my early years.

The reasons why I run have changed over the years. Earliest memories of races and my competitiveness go back to junior school where winning everything was my only priority. I could run, and yes in those days I could run fast. I was a sprinter. My mother, to this day will argue that she was faster at my age. I will argue otherwise. Nature or nurture, whatever you want to call it, or however you want to define it, both important. The sporting genes and the competitive streak combined turned me into someone with immense drive and determination by the age of seven. I spent four years in Tenby juniors, that meant, four years of sports days. Four years of having to win. Four years of wanting to get my hands on that silver cup. Four years of being the best at something. Academically, I was middle of the class, I had no musical talent, my creativity as I have learnt probably just as bad; but sport was my thing. 

I had two main rivals at junior school for this magic cup. One who was a better jumper than me (both into the sand pit and over the bar), she could also throw the rounders ball further. The other, challenged me at running. The cup champion was the athlete 😂 who built up the most points over all the events that led up to the big day, which consisted of events on the track. By track I mean an uneven grass field with wobbly white lines acting as lanes. Between the ages of 7-11 this was my Olympic stadium, as the mass of supporters (a small number of family members for all my competitors) stood chatting on the side line on a random week day afternoon. 

Us athletes (some happy to be there, some not) would sit in our house groups which were divided into colours and local areas. Red (Caldey), Blue (Goscar), Green (Monsktone) and yellow (Giltar). I was in red, the colour of champions.

Even at this early age I experienced nerves and the excitement which came with wanting to win. I recall one night, upset and frustrated that I was rubbish at skipping and I could not do the skipping race. On the big day, I would not be able to eat my lunch through nerves. 

I certainly had no external pressure put on me from my parents. I was not bribed with an extra 50p for winning. I won the cup every year and also won a trophy for being the best sporting girl in my final year (pictured). I achieved what I had set out to achieve. Did this ambition and success shape other areas of my life and follow me through to where I am now? 

What did I get from winning and from my early success on that wonky track? It made me feel good to know that I had won. A sense of accomplishment and at that age praise and recognition from teachers and family. I was good at something. I felt like a champion, I was proud and I could walk around with my head held high. If there was an open top bus through the town of Tenby, you bet I would have been on it showing off what I had won. That would never be taken from me. My name displayed on the big notice board which was on the wall in the corridor leading to the hall. I would often look up at it whilst in the dinner queue. The cups in the trophy cabinet nearby. My name. My prize. 

Still a few years away from being a teenager and I was showing early ambition and a level of pressure that I put on myself to be the best.

Did I enjoy running? Yes I loved it.

Sometimes running does not work 

Saturday 15th February 2020 (6.33pm)

I should be doing something else but binned that off as kind of feel that I want to write this. That is what writing / blogging is about (for me). It has to be in the head and ready to pop out, otherwise it is forced and does not happen.

This past week has been difficult, a 90 minute psychiatrist appointment on Tuesday, not only examined my current wellbeing but will also have a potentially significant bearing on what happens in my immediate future. This took its toll on me and left me with a bumping brain for 24 hours. I am not able to disclose what went on here for medical and professional reasons but super grateful for those who are aware and have stood by me this week. I am seeing my therapist on Monday, and after the last session where I was emotionally unable to put more than 5 words together I am hoping it will be better. I have other shit and emotions going on which I am doing my best to deal with but failing at. 

My running has had to take a back step due to a malfunctioning knee and getting over illness. For the first time in what feels like ever I did nothing for 6 days. For someone who relies on this mentally, it is no wonder that I have been on breakdown mode. After seeing my knee surgeon last week, it appears that one of my previous grafts or my rebuild has ‘gone’ which is causing my knee to slip off track and out of alignment.  Advice, don’t run. Unfortunately this is not an option for my head. Ironically, my knee does not slip out when I run but I am limited to a certain number of miles before it starts to give me grief. I am awaiting an MRI scan prior to operation #12. I have had to withdraw from a number of events but will carry on with the swimming and cycling (hopefully).

I must give a big shout out to my Saturday morning run crew (as pictured below) who are providing me with some ‘normal time’, laughs and company at the moment. These along with many others who are missing from the picture today are training for an ultra marathon so Saturday morning is long run day. In previous weeks we have been caked in mud, sh*t, fallen on our butts, ran into bollards, laughed together, sworn together then shared breakfast together. Today, we decided to take on storm Dennis, and to avoid the worst of the wind and rain met at 0730. Anyone who knows me will appreciate that I do not run in the rain; however, this was a mission that I knew I had to go on. My head wobbled yesterday (as does most days), knee had been rested, and had I not gone, I would have sat and thought about stuff, worked myself up into more of a mess and regretted missing the run. I knew I needed to go and be around people, even if it was to run 13 miles. I have had to pull out of the ultra but the run group has become a big help to me. They probably have no idea of this.

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Sometimes a run does not clear my head. Sometimes I get too consumed with the mass of wires in my brain which do not connect to form rational sense, but instead fire off in all directions overwhelming me with emotion which I cannot control. Cue today, managing to keep it in check until about 2 miles from the end where I had to stop, let it go, get my sh*t together and carry on. No point in beating around the bush, every step of my 12.2 miles was mental hell. I was somewhere else, away with other thoughts, battling the demons which took the joy out of my run.

I was glad to finish. I was glad to stop.

Today, Dennis didn’t beat me. I did x

Thin blue line

Friday 7th February 2020 (12.43pm)

I am conscious that I left things a bit grim when I signed off yesterday, and I do not like to leave things is such a way. I had obviously written that post on Sunday after a few days of feeling like I had once again hit rock bottom. I am also aware that many people would have read this with thoughts in their mind about a colleague who we so tragically lost on Monday. Someone who I had the pleasure in working with, who in the end could find no other way out. As my social media filled up with images of ‘the thin blue line’ I sat in my own world shocked as everyone, but deep down hiding feelings of how it could have easily been me. 

It takes a lot of strength and courage to fight this demon, but for those who cannot, I totally get what races through your mind. No rational thoughts. No answers. No care. No hope. It may sound selfish to those left behind, but trust me, this is not something you think about. I don’t think you actually can think about it. It is as if nothing matters than getting the pain out of your head as well as escaping the exhaustion ripping through your body. I know I am not alone in these thoughts. 

I have heard people say ‘it is the easy way out’. Trust me it is not. Tell me what is so easy about it? Unless you have been there, unless you have had those thoughts, unless you become so desperate that there is no answer then you will never understand. You will never understand what it is like to be consumed by a million emotions when all you want is peace. All you want is quiet. All you want is an end to your pain.

To my friends / colleagues who may be reading this, replaying those last times, those last words, those laughs that you had with our friend, cherish them. Cherish those moments. Cherish those stories which you may have had from shift, in the police car, on Cardiff after dark or dealing with prisoners or vulnerable victims. For me, I remember the infectious smile, the bubbly personality, the hard worker from our hub days, the one who would happily help and do her best.

Please never think ‘what ifs’. What if I noticed? What if I had rang her? What if I had spoken to her? What if I had done anything different? Trust me, you would have all made a difference and impacted in some way through your friendship and kindness.

Keep talking though people, keep looking after yourself and others, keep offering those ears, keep giving out that phone number, keep making yourself available. We all know someone, may all see it in someone but they themselves don’t, or wont admit it. There is no shame in admitting that you are struggling with  burnout, depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness. Yes ILLNESS! There is no shame in feeling the pressure of a work load. There is no shame in asking for help. That is what friends, colleagues and supervisors are for. Don’t think you are letting your team down. Don’t think you are the weak link. Easy for me to say now having done exactly that. Many of you may be chasing promotion, aspirations and dreams of the next rank. Please do not do what I did and break yourself to get there.

I am not afraid to say I first self referred to welfare around 2007 ish when I saw that I was changing, becoming a different person, not handling things as I should have been, becoming stressed over stupid things, snappy and irritable. I will never forget the words I said to the counsellor ‘I want to drive down the M4 the wrong way’. Obviously I had to give assurances that I wouldn’t and we worked through things over the coming weeks. During the years that followed I found myself in automatic mode, going through the motions of exams and promotion. Was I happy? Yes and I honestly can say that I loved what I did. Had my head gone at this point? Yes, but I did not see it.

Working in Public Protection we had to see welfare as routine due to what we dealt with. It was during one of these visits early 2016 (I think) that I knew I would be back sometime. Not long after I self referred. Of course I kept this from management, for all of the reasons I mentioned above. Weeks later I walked out, that was nearly 4 years ago.

I am now under the care of my GP and seeing a therapist through RED ARC. Job people, the number is on the federation app / web page. Its confidential, the support is amazing so use if you need to. I am seeing my Psychiatrist on Tuesday.

Seeing how everyone has responded on social media to the news over the last few days makes me proud to part of the police family. You are all amazing people, doing an incredible job. Friendships become like no other. Whatever happens to me and my future with South Wales Police, I will always be part of it, I need that.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support me. I do not put my blog out there for attention or any response. I do it because so many people tell me how they relate but do not have the courage to say. 

If what I have said prompts even 1 of you to take my advice then that makes for a happy me. 

You know who you are. 

You know where I am.

xx

Stuck in Transition

Sunday 2nd February 2020 (1200)

Do you ever feel stuck between two worlds or situations where you are doing your absolute best to get out of one and move into another? Well that is where I am at, miserably failing at transition, like I cannot get out of my wetsuit and onto my bike. All I want to do is feel the freedom and joy of the bike, but the heavy, wetsuit is weighing me down, taking up too many thoughts of how to get out, slowly exhausting me and sapping me of what reserve I have left.

The problem I have is that I love my wetsuit and don’t want to get out of it.

I have thought long and hard about making this public, but as I plan to post this later in the week I will. Yesterday I stood on the edge of a cliff whilst out running with friends. For about 30 seconds I stood there alone watching the sea crash into the rocks below me. It was a low tide, the sun was shining and I thought how easy it would be just to say ‘f**k it’ and go.

A friend came around the corner, gave me a nudge … I carried on running.

Its ok not to be ok

Friday 24th January, 2020 (2.37pm)

Whilst sat in a coffee shop earlier today, my attention was drawn to a young girl sitting on her own crying. She had no drink, but sat at the table next to mine. I had come to the end and was just about to leave. It was one of those moments where I thought ‘do I check she is ok’ or ‘leave her as she may tell me to do one’. The second option didn’t bother me, as she wouldn’t be the first so to me it was a no brainer. I also would have regretted it. I sat in the chair opposite her and asked her why she was crying. I could tell she wanted to talk (I told her that I was not some crazy weirdo ‘hmm’). 

She told me that she did not want to cry in the street. After 5 minutes of my best ‘Achieving Best Evidence’ interviewing (lol) I got to the issue and we worked out a plan as to what she was going to do on leaving the coffee shop. Before that though she stayed and got a drink.

I am not telling you this because I think I am some hero. I just did the right thing at the time, in those circumstances. I am telling you this, because I have been there many times. Sat in coffee shop, upset, not knowing where to look. Nobody ever spoke to me, people walked by. I remember once, leaving in such as haze of fuzz wanting to end it all. Would someone taking time out to ask if I was ok have helped?

There are so many people around us struggling, it may not be as visible as this girl today, but in 5 minutes the girl had completely changed. I hope I made a difference to her life today like she did to mine.

Identity

Thursday 23rd January (1.25pm)

Identity. What is it? What does it mean? Are you defined by it?

It is something that we all have legally, and anatomically through DNA and fingerprints, but do we look at other factors which give us our identity? Status, race, religion, gender, or any other characteristic? When talking about someone, you may refer to them as a footballer, actress, runner, doctor, teacher, the one with the silver mini, or the green hair. All of these things say something about us.  Whilst these descriptors may not define us or give us our identity they are often what people think about when you mention them. Mo Farah – runner, David Tennant – actor.

You may identify yourself in a certain way. I do, or at least did, or do I still? On 4th November 2002, I was given a number that would be attached to my shoulder for 30 years (if not more). That number 4045 became my identity. That number for many years defined me. That number I would say and write time and time again. The letters in front of 4045 have changed over the years from PC, DC A/PS, A/DS, PS, DS, T/DI as I progressed  through to CID and Specialist Crime. These letters, important in my eyes, these letters making me proud of who I was, what I was doing and what I lived for. They defined me, the way I was, the way I thought, the way I observed everything and everyone, the way I lived my life by rules and regulations, policy and procedure. These letters and that number made me get up everyday and do what I could to make a difference.

Georgina Lloyd – the police officer. Georgina Lloyd – Sarge.

Over the last few years my identity as a cop has slowly faded, and maybe new tags have taken its place, the runner, the Ironman, the mad one who runs around all of the time, the new friend, Olly’s mum. People who I associate with now, never saw me as what I was, instead they see me as who I have become. Which is the real me? I do not know? 

I have recently come to realise that this has been a major problem for me. Whilst my friends and partner continued in their world, with their lives, mine was slowly being taken from me. My identity and feeling of pride, normality, purpose and hope were getting further and further away from me each day. I became jealous, afraid, scared as I felt left out of the real world. I became further isolated as I tried to deal with these feelings of ‘who am I’. I kept it bottled inside as I bubbled, crumbled, became rotten hurting those closest to me along the way. Stuck in a world that I could not adjust to.

Everything that I had worked so hard for now appears like a distant memory. This is still very raw and even writing this is making me emotional.

Therapy is now steering me in the right direction. Like an onion, I am stripping back the layers and I am getting closer to the core. The core in this example is my identity as I come to terms with perhaps losing one identity and finding another. 

They say in the job ‘you are just a number’. Whilst this maybe true, the significance of those 4 digits will have an ever lasting effect, whatever I find when I get to the core.

Time for the big girl pants

Wednesday 15th January 2020 (3.11pm)

I am pleased to say that today has been a better day. I am currently out treating myself to a late lunch after having an hour with my mental health worker. Thankfully our meeting went better than last Friday, and after having final closure on one part of my life, I feel that there is no point in dwelling on the ifs, buts and maybes. It’s time for me to put the big girl pants back on and adopt the chuck it in the ‘fu*k it bucket’ before it destroys me any further.

This morning I met up with someone who I have never had a verbal conversation with but know from Parkrun. After making contact via social media we met for a run. This is not something that I would have done up until recently. We smashed out 10 miles and never stopped talking all of the way. Thank you so much RC, that was exactly what I needed. Time out, not having the chance to think over the things was a perfect start to the morning. A new friend made and a new running buddy 👌🏻. The running community totally rocks and I am so grateful I have this and these super duper people.

Myself (especially) and Olly stepped out for our morning walk with a bounce and new hope. Things are still tough, they will be until I have time to adjust (not good for someone who has an adjustment disorder). Trying not to be too cliched, I have to look at what is ahead of me. The next few months will bring lots of changes so it is time for me to embrace what, and maybe even who will be thrown my way.

Whilst I have a tear in my eye, I am actually happy and inwardly smiling.

Fuzz

Tuesday 14th January 2020 (7.24pm)

An early therapy appointment (8am) has kind of left me feeling pretty bleurgh all day. I wasn’t feeling good on my drive there with lots of negative thoughts and emotions going around in my head. I arrived, admittedly in a bit of a mess, which continued throughout my session as my brain raced at a million miles an hour thinking over recent events. Again we talked about my want to escape from the mess I have made of things personally, as well as what is going on professionally and financially. We got onto the topic of trauma, and somewhere there is something going on with me that I either don’t know about, or I have buried it and not realised, or I know about but will not admit or talk about, I guess for fear of reality and further rejection. Next session we will be doing rewind therapy to try and remove whatever it is. I left therapy in a haze of fuzz and after taking Olly out for a walk to the beach, I have tucked myself away all day. Weather has not helped. I have had no interest in doing anything. 

I don’t feel that I have the help and support that I need at the moment. This has probably come out wrong, because I have friends who contact me everyday doing welfare checks, I have friends who invite me out for coffee, walks or runs. Whilst this is great and I am so thankful to these people, there is something or someone missing. And this is what I am finding hard. As I sit here typing this, Olly moves away from me feeling the emotion, his little face peering over the arm of the other chair.

I have just done the PHQ-9 test to see where I am in terms of my depression. I scored 23/27. A score above 20 indicates severe depression.

I have no idea what to do anymore.