Exercising for a better mental health

The road to Ironman Part II

Monday 17th September 2018 (9.56am)

As the months went by I was able to tick off the events which I had planned in my calendar. First up was the Big Vitality Half marathon in London which I was invited to do. Unfortunately this did not get off to a great start as in March thick snow began too fall. Having booked my train and accommodation, I had to cancel late on due to no trains departing. 

Not being the only one to be disappointed by the snow, London Marathon Events made the decision to award medals to those who completed the distance within 7 days and evidence it on Strava. A few days later as the snow meted I completed my London half marathon around the streets of Barry and Penarth. Medal number 1 of the year received. 

My Ironman training continued, using the events as training sessions for variety and to monitor progress. As I started into April, the focus of my training changed and became more run orientated as I prepared for the London marathon.  I knew that I was both physically fitter and mentally stronger than when I completed the marathon in 2017. Never expecting to run it again I was given the opportunity and not one to say ‘no’ I jumped at the chance. 

In the lead up to the event I was invited to the 2018 launch of the London marathon at the Michel Roux restaurant in Parliament Square. Whilst talking to the organisers of the London marathon a seed was planted in my head to go for the London classics medal which consists of the marathon, a 2 mile swim of the Serpentine and Ride London (100 miles). I will be swimming the Serpentine on Saturday and plan to ride London next year.

The day of the London marathon was hot and I knew I had to play it sensibly. I had no particular time in mind but based on current fitness levels I knew I would be able to finish around the 4 hour mark. The punishing heat bouncing off the tarmac meant that I had to slow my pace down. I had to remember that this was a training run. I had been having treatment for plantar fasciitis for the last 5 months and it was not worth the risk to push it above a comfortable level. I finished in 4 hours 31 with the body still in one piece. Medal number 2 in the bag.

On returning from London I began working with a new coach. The sea temperature now deemed acceptable (by who I don’t know) for swimming meant that it was time to get in and get used to the unpredictable conditions which the current and waves chuck at you. I was not new to competitive sea swimming having completed Tenby Long course 2.4 mile swim for the last two years. All I had to do was control the sea sickness and I knew that I would be ok. 

The first swim of 2018 was a shock to the system. Whilst it was a lovely sunny day in early May, the sea temperature was baltic. I had the worse case of head freeze ever and I was unable to move my hands and feet which I am convinced turned to ice. Not one to moan (much) I enjoyed my swim out at Jacksons bay, Barry. It was good to be back in the wetsuit putting all of my pool sessions into practice. I was also beginning to have faith in my sea sick tabs!

Late May, I needed a break and decided to go abroad for a week. My head was ‘going off on one’ and things felt pretty crap. It was also the only time which I could get away before Ironman. I took my trainers with me and did a few runs in the hot morning sun. The holiday was what I needed to refresh the body mentally. Physically the rest was good for me and on returning I knew that the hard work was about to begin.

On June 3rd I had my first triathlon of the year. It was sprint distance with the aim of enjoying it, practicing transition, trying out new kit and getting through it in one piece. All of which I managed.

I began swimming at the age of 3 or 4 and did so competitively until the age of about 14. Other sports then took over causing me to completely abandon swimming. When I decided to do my first Tenby Long course swim in 2016, I knew that I had to get back in the pool. The first few sessions were hard  (I was much faster when I was 8) and I lacked any sort of structure to my training. I was out of touch with drills and I had no idea what my technique was like. I did see improvements with distance and time so I thought that I must be doing ok.

It was only when I started working with a coach at the end of last year did things start to click into place. I finally had structure and progressive drills and techniques to work on. In June I had my stroke analysed in the endless pool (pool treadmill). Thankfully, I only had to make some minor adjustments to improve my efficiency. My subsequent pool and sea swims enabled me to practice and refine what I had learnt. It made me think about my stroke and body position which I am still working on today. Improvements can always be made.

Next up was a new bike. I decided to go for an aero road bike with tri bars. Not a necessity but the body position and comfort which it offered would be a massive help when riding 112 miles. The bike was put to good use the following week at Cardiff triathlon (Olympic distance) and a few weeks later Velothon Wales (87 miles).

The big test for me was to be Tenby Long Course weekend in July. The swim would be the same as Ironman and the bike distance would be the same 112 miles but a slight change of route. I decided to run the half marathon rather than full as I did not want to put the knees though another marathon when there was no need to. It was the swim and bike I wanted to crack.

I got off to a really good start on the Friday evening with the swim, knocking over 10 minutes off my time from last year. I felt confident in the water. I was happy with my stoke and I knew I had extra in the tank in terms of my fitness.

I have tried the 112 mile bike route on two previous attempts but the hard hilly course has got the better of me so I only ended up doing the 66 miles. I was not going to be beaten this year. I knew I had it in me after hours and hours of structured training on the Wattbike and work out on the roads. It was a tough day in the saddle but having thought about and practiced nutrition I completed it. This was a biggy for me as it gave me the much needed confidence going into Ironman. My physical fitness and mental strength evident. These two events gave me an indicator as to where I was and what we needed to work on. The final event of the weekend, the half marathon went without incident giving my a hat-trick of medals.

The final event before Ironman was the Barry Island 10k. A chilled out fun event saw me collect my 9th medal of 2018.

The road to Ironman part III to follow

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The road to Ironman Part I

Thursday 13th September 2018 (11.58am)

At 1911 hours on Monday 18th September 2017 I signed up for Ironman Wales. One week before I had been watching it (again) and knew that it was something that I had to do.  I sat at the kitchen table looking at the details I had filled in on the website before closing my eyes and hitting the enter button. I felt sick for having just spent over £400 on an event that was going to cause me pain and consume my life for the next 12 months. I did not care, the ‘all or nothing’ in me knew that no other event would ever be good enough. This was the one I wanted. This was the one I was going to get.

I knew that I was in good shape after training for and completing the London marathon and Tenby Long Course weekend. I knew I had the distance in me, it was just a matter of the body holding out for the training which would take me to another level.

I told my parents (mother panicked) and publicised it on my social media. There was no going back after that. Excitement of a new challenge gripped me knowing that I would push myself to the max mentally and physically. I gave a shout out for a coach on Twitter and was overwhelmed by the number of people who responded.

I continued with my normal training clocking up the miles in the pool, on the bike and on the road.

My coached program started on 27th November 2017 and this is where I began to record my Ironman miles.

I liked the structure that the program provided. Mentally, it was what I needed. It gave me something to do each day. I am an organised person who likes routine, without this I could easy waste myself away into deeper depression. Not only was I accountable to my coach, but more importantly I was accountable to myself. If there was an activity on my program then I did it, and it did it well. Even early on into the training there was no point in cheating my way out of it. I would be the one come Ironman day to suffer, nobody else.

The cold winter months were hard, I spent time with relatives in London pre Christmas and would run, taking in the sights of the London marathon route but this time being able to enjoy the beauty of the iconic sights around me. The snow eventually stopped me in my tracks, but I used this as rest. Christmas Day took me home to Tenby and of course my trainers came with me as I ran through Kiln Park, the South beach and through the town. 

As the new year began, I continued with my program. The days were cold, the days were short, and the evenings were colder. I would take Olly out at 3pm walking along the beach in the biting wind, knowing that when I got home I would have to do a strength & conditioning session and/or a run, having already either done a swim or bike session earlier in the day. I recall many times laying on the sofa trying to motivate myself to get into my PE kit to a run hill session. I would use every excuse in my head not to go. I would then give myself a sharp reminder ‘Do you want to be an Ironman or not?’ Reluctantly I would change and step out into the cold air whilst trying to start my Garmin with thick gloves on. As always, it was never as bad when out there running, the relief of getting home knowing that it was done and your activity turned to green on Training Peaks was a great feeling. Another session ticked off. Another day closer.

When I signed up 12 months in advance, it felt like I had plenty of time; yet it was amazing how time suddenly was eaten away. 12 months became 7 months, then 4 months, then 2 months, then 2 days. I am glad I got myself organised quickly in order to have a progressive plan of training. I changed coached in April and as time ticked away, I continued to see fitness gains and improvements. I worked on my swim technique, bike strength and performance and running efficiency all of which were specific to me. Power output, watts, and swim drills became second nature.

I worked to time, not distance (apart from in the pool) so I was never consumed by miles or data. My coach took care of this, I  only counted all of my miles just for interest. The variety in my training kept me motivated and on track. Weekly discussions with my coach made sure that all was going to plan. When things were hard, or I felt rubbish, I trusted him, I trusted his knowledge, and expertise. Importantly he also trusted me.

The road to Ironman Part II to follow 

The blog of two questions

Monday 13th August 2018 (2.50pm)

The questions I am being asked at the moment are:

1.  ’What will you do after Ironman?’

2.  ’What is your favourite out of the three – swim, bike, run?’

Firstly, tackling question 1, my carefully considered response is ‘retire’ (again).  With less than four weeks to go until the big day I am thinking about my options. These though depend on A) surviving the event itself and B) employment status.

What I do know is that my wetsuit will be left to sail into the Bristol Channel, my bikes will be in the nearest skip and my daps will be burnt somewhere along my favourite run route.

Then I remember that two weeks after IMW I am swimming the Serpentine, then two weeks after that I am running the Cardiff Half Marathon. Maybe I wont retire after all. In 2019 I have plans to run the London Marathon and to Ride London. My aim is to get the London Classics Medal. To date only 649 people are recognised in the hall of fame.

In reality I do not know how I will be either physically or mentally four weeks today. Physically I have an idea that my body will be broken. Currently, my knees hang on by bolts and threads and my left hamstring / glute scream if I sit down for too long. I am seeing a Physio on Thursday who I am hoping has a magic wand. I am not too bothered by these niggles and they are not concerning enough to keep me from the start line.

I have trained for this since last November and I can say that I have done my absolute best following the plan and directions of my amazing coach. There is no way that I would have been in the shape I am in today without such guidance. The structure has been what I have needed giving me focus each day. My body has achieved things over the last few months which I never thought it would. If it was left to me alone, I can assure you that I would not have had the discipline to do what I have done.

I have enjoyed every moment of my training (well 99%). I look back to the cold dark winter months being out in all weathers which was a serious test to my commitment. Sitting here now (in Costa) I cannot believe where the time has gone. I have met some supportive people on this journey, both in real life and through social media. Such people have been so inspirational in their own journey which has given me the motivation to keep going.

I will not just stop training when this is all over. I will drop the intensity then maybe take a short break. I don’t know. I know that mentally, exercise is my therapy and has become a lifeline over the last few years. I will need time to reflect on what I have achieved over the last year, often through some tough times. I usually book my activity diary up in January so no doubt I will be looking.

I have said to myself that I will not commit to a full Ironman again. I have other things that I would like to invest my time in which are as equally as important and therapeutic. I have had to put my book on hold and I would like to do more with my blog. I have a number of ideas in terms of where I want to go and what I would like to do but most of this is dependant on what happens with my employment situation. 

What I do know is that I have to keep my brain active as this helps it declining into a negative slump. I have even considered doing another degree or course (online). I will not be putting any pressure on myself for anything, and these are just ideas which are currently floating around my head. I need to do things in my time and not be dictated by anyone or anything.

The answer to question 2 differs every day. I do not have a favourite as I enjoy all for different reasons. I love the freedom that I get from hours on the bike, the places that I discover and sites I often miss when driving. 

I love the buzz that I get after a run and the friends which I have made through the local run club. I will never forget how lucky I am to actually be able to run after being told that I never would again. 

The feeling I get when hitting the sweet spot through the water is incredible. Mastering the skill and technique takes patience and time and it is an area which I have worked hard at and seen big improvements.

There are times when I am cycling and my legs are screaming at me and all I want to do then is put on my run legs. This works both ways. 

Though I have no particular favourite, the one I see as least going wrong and the one I will look forward to is the run, yep 26.2 miles of running (or shuffling). Not only is it the last event, but I feel that if I can get to the run, I hopefully will get to the finish. The bike cut off times scare me and there is always the chance of a mechanical or crash. Before any of this though is the swim. I just hope I can keep the sea sickness away and not get eaten by Tenby size jelly fish.

Remind me why I do these stupid things?

Today I am a Proton

Wednesday 8th August 2018 (11.44am)

The last couple of weeks have not been great, hence my avoidance of any blog. I have felt that I have not had my shit together to put into context what has been going on. My mood has certainly not been as low as it has been but it is different. There are NO suicidal thoughts or urges to self harm, it is more of a deep downer compounded by what has felt like extreme fatigue.

Last Monday I had an appointment at the Psych Centre where I saw 2 mental health nurses. It was a follow up appointment combined with a new referral from the primary care team in relation to having some emotional regulation therapy in the near future. Once again, I put on the professional face (not advised, but its what I do) and confidently and competently answered the questions which were asked. The crux of my mood and state of mind is primarily down to being stuck in limbo with the whole work situation. I have spoken about this rock and hard place before so wont dwell on it here, but the not knowing and the anxiety and fear I feel regarding this plays heavily on my mind. I am awaiting any decisions / outcome of this meeting. My GP has also increased my medication.

This has sunk me back into my bubble where all I have wanted to do is hide from the world and isolate myself from everyone. It has required honest conversations with myself and my partner as to how I / we get through this phase of uncertainty. My attitude towards my training and writing which are usually my forms of therapy has been poor. I have simply not had the motivation or desire to do either. Thankfully, the training has continued but not with the level of enthusiasm which I normally apply to it. There have been times when I have felt like quitting the whole Ironman thing but I have travelled on too far a journey both physically and mentally to let this go. It would also be one of my biggest regrets if I was not on that start line (in the dark) on Sunday 9th September.

Now I just want answers and a decision to me made. Everything is out of my hands which makes it harder. Stuck in a process which I can do nothing about. Stuck in my head of confusion. I just want to be able to move on with my life in a positive manner and that is away from the police service for my own health and wellbeing.

The title of the blog ‘Today I am a Proton’ reflects that I am sitting here in Starbucks (I have just swam 3150m, and have to run for 1hr 8 mins later) reflects that I have a positive charge about me (those of you who listened in Chemistry will get this) more so than over the last few weeks. I am hoping it will last, who knows?

Too many tabs open

Tuesday 24th July 2018 (2.23pm)

It’s been a while since I last wrote as things have been really busy in terms of training and events. I have certainly clocked up a few miles in the pool, sea, on the bike and on my feet. I am pleased with how my training is going and the hard work is starting to show. With Ironman Wales less than 50 days away, I have a tough few weeks ahead. Physically the body is withstanding the intensity I am smashing it with (thankfully).

Mentally I feel like I am not on the same page. My head resembles a busy interchange with signals and craziness flying all over the place. Once again I have the image of Mr Messy from the Mr Men in my head, with his pink messy scribble character unwinding and unfolding so the mess becomes looser before tightening back up again. This does not go away. 

Having too may tabs open is a permanent feature of my brain which I wish I could just switch off as it scrambles around at super speed. This is not easy to live with, and my partner deserves a medal for putting up with me. My mood is erratic which I cannot explain. I hide behind my eyes as I stare into space trying to fathom out what exactly I am thinking to try and put some normality on it. When I am asked to explain, I can’t, it is too complex and I complicate things putting it into words.

I just wish I could find some stability and consistency within my brain as minute to minute it may have spun around so many times before coming back to the initial thought. I continually question what am I doing and where I am going. This applies personally as well as professionally. My partner is aware of this as together (often after I have gone off on one) we try to work out how and why. This is not easy and it is evident that I still battle with my diagnosis of a personality disorder and adjustment disorder. My last Psychiatrist said that I no longer suffer with this, but I believe it is still there. It is like I play two characters off each other, ‘nice George’ and ‘pain in the ass George’.  With the latter, I know that I am behaving or acting like an idiot but there is nothing I can do to stop it. Words come out of my mouth which I do not mean and do not want to say, yet I cannot stop it. It is the same with my actions, I back away from any closeness or attention and all I want is to be alone… but I don’t, as all I want is a hug. I agree that this all sounds off the crazy scale, but with me it is there, day in day out as I try and function with some normality. 

I am lucky to have people around me who put up with me. I am grateful that however often I push people away, they are still there. I certainly do not deserve it. I am due to see my GP Thursday, where no doubt I will discuss the above. It could be a matter of altering my medication dosage, I don’t know.

Being in limbo with my work situation does not help. Things are out of my hands as reports are prepared and decisions are made which are out of control. What is evident is that my deterioration happened the same time as the outcome of my SMP report. This is in the back of my mind as my future, which ever which way it goes will be determined, I am hoping in the next few months.

For now I continue to keep my focus on Olly and my training as this is what gives me purpose, direction and some sort of meaning.

Stuck between two worlds

Wednesday 11th July 2018 (12.16pm)

Yep, that is how I feel, stuck between two worlds, between the life I once had and the future I saw, to where I am now and where I see myself going. I know I can’t turn back the clock to the past and I have no crystal ball to see what will happen. I feel that there is something stopping me from moving on and embracing the happy future which I could have. I cannot erase memories of good times and I don’t want to; yet as I sit here, my brain spins around knowing that it is wrong to look back. People (whoever these people are) say you should not go back and move on, but is it really that easy? How can you suddenly chuck out a piece of your life which has been so important and so significant.

It is like the ‘sliding doors’ moment where your whole future changes based on a split second where you either miss the train or make it. I sit here and reflect on how different things could have been in my life. I could have had an 18 month old child, I could have been juggling child care, work, the rat race of promotion. Instead, I sit here in Costa training for the endurance event of my life, on the back of a life changing two and a half years. Different paths based upon the outcome of IVF treatment and a marriage break up.

There are no regrets as to what has happened. I am certainly a better and stronger person for it. I do not dwell on the past, but at times, things flitter through my head as a Facebook memory unexpectedly pops up or friends announce their new arrival. I am not saying I want children, I cannot even look after myself 😂. I have the crazy pup who is more then enough for me.

Why this now? I don’t know, perhaps it is because I have started a new chapter personally. Perhaps there are some things which I thought were boxed away and are not. I don’t know. I thought things were dealt with.

I hope this does not sound glum, that is not my intention. I am ok and I will be. Just put it down to a moment of overthinking. This is what mental illness does to me. It is like the devil chipping away with negativity when things are seemingly going ok. Constantly reminding me that I am not worthy of what I have. Getting in the way of life, altering my mind set and mood. Telling me to put up barriers which I have tried to drop. Encouraging me to push away relationships and isolate myself from friends. I know I am stronger than these thoughts which plague me. I know this will pass.

As for work, the next stage is progressing through my Federation Rep. It is just a waiting game. Things are out of my hands. There is nothing I can do as I await further reports. Frustrated and let down by a system whereby I still receive no pay even though I cannot return to work. Tomorrow I see my Force Dr, nothing has changed and nothing will. Formality.

I am always grateful and thankful for what I have. Over the last 20 years a verse from Scripture has guided and encouraged me on so many occasions and today it is shouting at me:

Proverbs 16 v 9

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps

Part 3 – Where I am now

Monday 18th June 2018 (11.51am)

I have purposely left part 3 for over a week or so I could (hopefully) report on some improvements. Are things more positive? Yes, but I feel that I still have a long way to go with it. After I wrote part 2 on Friday 8th June, things got progressively worse for me. I could not control my mood, I pushed my partner away saying that I wanted to be alone and was no good at relationships. I felt angry at myself for not being able to change my stroppy, obstructive behaviour. I felt angry for pushing people away. It felt like my body had been taken over by the demon destructive alien which I could do nothing about. 

Something had wormed its way into my head telling me to act like a complete and utter tit and nothing could stop it. I felt a tornado ripping through my body and look out whoever got in my way. All day I simmered as I fought to keep my temper and anger under control. I was angry at me, no one else. I was angry for feeling the way I was. The tornado had spun me around in a destructive circle and all I wanted to do was punish myself for it. After throwing things across the kitchen, banging my head on the cabinet and punching my fists down the worktops, things which I had not done for years, I knew that I had to go back onto my antidepressants. It was only then that I realised that over the last 2 and a half years it was those pills that were keeping me stable. Those pills which I had neglected to take for over a week. Those pills which I wanted to flush down the toilet as I didn’t think I needed them.  I reached out for them and ever since things have stabilised. 

I am not saying that I have returned to a fully functioning human being (if I ever was one) but I am getting by. Thankfully I have an understanding partner who did what she could to help, even though I pushed and pushed before completely losing it. I have a focus on my training which gives me structure each day, and of course I have Olly who probably understands me more than I give him credit for, as he cuddles in to me on the sofa staying close, looking after his human.

My work situation is still uncertain as I await my next instructions with the appeals process. This is not helped by the no pay situation, as I continue to sit between my rock and my hard place as the process drags out. 

I have not been able to concentrate on writing my book since returning from holiday, but I feel now that I am able to pick it up again. This demonstrates a more positive mind set as my brain settles down back into a calmer rhythm and pattern.

I am looking forward to taking part in a triathlon on the weekend, the buzz of an event bubbling away in me as I continue to see fitness improvements demonstrating the pay off of all of the hard work which I have been putting in.

I am ok, I know I will get there and things will improve. it will take time; however, If anyone has any spare patience just send them my way 🙂 

Olly’s Blog

Me and my human thought that it had all been a bit serious on here lately, so to lighten the mood my human has allowed me to take part in a one off ‘blog take over’.

If you didn’t know, I am Olly, and I’d like to share with you my latest holiday experiences in Tenby with the ‘Clampetts’, otherwise known as nanny and bampi. They are two old retired people who do very little exercise except go to the gym a couple of times a week, when they have the energy to get out of bed in the morning, play some warm weather tennis and green bowls in the summer.

When my human mum said I was off on holidays again I was super excited and even let out a little bit of wee. Prior to leaving home I was taken to get my hair cut and didn’t recognise myself when I looked in the mirror, I was bald, all my beautiful curls were gone. In Tenby they call it a summer cut.

I knew my accommodation would be OK but brought my own bed and toys along with my favourite treats to make me feel at home. There is a garden to run around in and although it is not big it is full of vegetable plants and herbs but nothing to eat.

The day starts with bampi dragging me off their bed at an hour I’m not accustomed to and pushing me out into his beloved garden for a wee and poo. I can’t do these to order and sometimes it takes so long, you know what its like when someone is watching you, that the tea he has made for nanny, who is still lying in her bed goes cold. I can hear her moaning at bampi.

During my stay I managed to wee on the lettuce, onions, radish, mint and rosemary. I think I ruined a few as he went around pulling up the plants and putting them in the bin. Bampi didn’t look happy but when he pushes me out there, what am I expected to do?

One day nanny was playing bowls, and bampi had to remove me from the bowling green because I was barking so loud. All I wanted to do was play with nanny and the old folks chasing their bowls on the nice green grass. Bampi was muttering under his breath about where to go so we take an old pathway home, it’s overgrown but I am happy to explore, bampi is not because I’m pulling him along at my pace not at a pensioners pace. Nearing home he shouts out for me to stop as he has been stung by nettles all over one leg, it’s not his day.

One of my walks is in the field next to the house which has lots of buttercups in. I love to do zoomies when I’m happy, this is running around in all directions, wild and free and very fast.  Getting home after one walk I run up the stairs looking for nanny, and jump on the bed only to discover that I have changed the colour of the white duvet to yellow with the pollen off my tummy. Oops. This is not the end of the story when nanny gets home she wants to change the bed so I try to help as I caused the problem. They lift up the mattress to turn it and I slip under only for it to be dropped on me. I’m flat out and stuck as it’s heavy, I can hear them calling for me not knowing I’m trapped. After what seems a lifetime in dog years I am released unharmed and get loads of hugs and kisses for starting this chain of events.

On another day whilst nanny was up town shopping I annoyed bampi so much that he threw my bed and toys out of the house. All I did was eat cats poo. His face was as red as my human’s trainers. I would not go to him as I had not finished eating it and had to avoiding him catching me. He tried tricking me with treats but it didn’t work. Well I am too fast for the old man and managed to keep out of his way in a neighbours garden for a half hour then returned home with my tail between my legs. By this time he had cooled down but I did notice that my evening meal was not as much as I normally get, I had no treats before going to bed and nanny wouldn’t play kissie, kissie with me. Must make a comment on Trip Advisor.

Tenby has some lovely walks and outstanding views especially on the coastal paths but I don’t care much for heights and bampi even less. From May to September I am restricted to certain beaches and areas on beaches. I like the walk to Penally beach and Giltar Point but my favourite is Manorbier beach guarded by an impressive Castle where the fresh water running into the sea is refreshing and I can imagine it tasting like chilled white wine to a human. The beach is a great place to meet other dogs and do zoomies, it also has loads of rock pools to explore although I have a fear of deep water caused by a traumatic experience when I was a little puppy (whilst in the care of Bampi).

The walk I have done the most is across the South Beach to Black Rock (where I always stop for water kindly left out by the home owner) and then along passed the Golf Club. One day I was off the lead and getting bored so I took off and ran on to the first tee to join some golfers, then I ran up to the Club’s veranda where loads of people were waiting their turn to start play. Bampi was shouting “catch him” so I ran into the Club House where I was collared and returned to be shown a sign “no dogs allows”, oops. A couple of hours passed before I got a treat.

Bampi likes a bottle of wine on a Saturday night in front of the telly and when he finishes it he takes me for a walk. One Saturday he couldn’t be bothered to put my lead on so I took off and went walk about. I could hear him shouting and stumbling about but he could not see me because it was dark and I was in the field hiding. He was panicking but then out of the darkness a hand grabbed my collar. It was a friend of nanny who had been walking in the field in darkness, strange what humans do at night. I didn’t get my Dentastix that night but a verbal scalding.

Besides eating cats poo, I also ate foxes poo and I sniff at everything. I chase bikes, runners and flying birds.

Because I am toilet trained I’m allowed to sleep with nanny and bampi on their bed but I know that I keep them awake but that’s the fun of looking after me. I’m going home happy from my stay in Tenby. The ‘Clampetts’ are both fitter and very tired but they love me.

                                                                                                                                        

Part 2 – Crisis Team and Missing Person report 

Friday 8th June 2018 (11.38am)

I  am usually good at talking things out with people, but at the moment its hard, so this is the best I can manage. Putting what is scrambling around in my head onto this screen is the only thing that I can do at the moment as I sit here in yet another coffee shop pondering what the hell is going on.

If I thought Part 1 was hard to write then I am in for a test with this one today.

Last Thursday morning I received my letter from SMP. I had my weekly NHS counselling session arranged at my GP surgery for 2pm (coincidently). I did not want to go and even considered just not turning up (something which I have never done). I wanted to avoid the questions, I wanted to avoid talking, but most of all I wanted to hide from my counsellor how I was really feeling and the thoughts which were zooming around my brain. I knew that if I disclosed how shit I felt, my feelings of self harm, and wanting to run away and not be found then I would not be allowed to leave. My intention was to go there and say that I was ok. You did not have to be a trained counsellor to see through me straight away. The smile tactic did not work as all the verbal shit spilled out of me.

I was not allowed to leave the surgery before seeing my GP. After our conversation and her assessment I was deemed too vulnerable and too much of a risk to be left alone and arrangements were made there and then for me to attend locally for a Psychiatric assessment. I waited in a side room for my partner to arrive and take me there. When I got to the centre I  was seen by two mental health nurses. I spilled out the same shit. My head hurting from talking. I could not be bothered. Being sectioned was discussed but we agreed that this would likely be more detrimental for me. I was lucky to have someone who would be able to stay with me over the weekend. We also discussed medication and the possibility of trying an anti-psychotic drug. The MH nurse said that she would discuss this further with the GP. I left under ‘watch arrest’.

I struggled over the weekend, I was conscious that I was not me, I could not find me. I felt like things were going on around me yet I wasn’t there. A brain fuzz, likened to the black and white picture and sound on an ‘untuned tv’. I had my first triathlon of the season on Sunday, yet on Saturday I was not even going to turn up to it. I did turn up and when negative thoughts came into my head on the bike course I just pedalled faster to try and make the thoughts fly out of my ears!

Since Thursday, I had been planning and scheming in my head not letting on about how, when and where. I knew I was going to just go. On Tuesday, I dropped out of phone contact, not wanting to be reached. I needed time away. I needed to be alone. I grabbed Olly, packed up enough of his food and water and jumped in the car. I did not know what I was going to do as thoughts of self harm whirled around my head. I drove, we parked up, we walked, I contemplated, we walked more, I drove more. Repeat and repeat again. Time was passing. Olly my comfort blanket not letting me out of his sight. We are a tag team. He was / is my life saver.

Concerned friends who knew of my mental state had no option but to contact police. When I turned my phone back on, I had so many messages and missed calls. I was given a time frame to make contact and if I didn’t police were going to be called. When I picked up these messages I had a police officer sitting next to me in my car. I had been located.

Part 3 to follow (where I am at now)

Part 1 – Losing the fight

Thursday 7th June 2018 (10.47am)

This past week has been extremely difficult and I have not been able to write about it until today. Even now, I am only writing because my head is busy, it feels as if there are too many plugs in sockets, everything is misfiring and the danger of this is that it will explode. I have been asked lots of questions by professionals over the last 7 days but I have felt that I do not have the words to verbally articulate. Outside of my head, I have tried to continue as normal. I completed a triathlon on the weekend, the smile in the pictures masking the demons which have been attacking from all angles. I am ashamed of my thoughts of self destruction and the deceitfulness of lying to my partner as I pretend to take my medication; instead I hide it and discard it when she is not looking.  I no longer want to take it and haven’t done so for a week. This is not me. This is not my behaviour and as I sit here in Starbucks I am doing my best to hold things together.

Things have changed for me, it is like the recent bit of happiness and stability which have eluded me for so long have been snatched away, as if I am not supposed to have it, or that I don’t deserve it. This is not some sort of self pity, or that I am feeling sorry for myself; far from it. It is what mental illness does, it steals lives and I cannot even say at the moment that I am grateful to be sitting here typing this out. I know this will make hard reading for those closest to me. Trust me, this is one of the hardest blogs that I have written. The next blog will be equally as difficult. What I am thankful for, is that I am meeting two friends for lunch who will no doubt take the piss and cheer me up. These are friends that have stuck by me over the last few years, gluing back pieces of the broken me.

Last Thursday I received my medical report from my SMP (Selected Medical Practitioner) who assessed whether I was fit to carry out the ordinary duties of a police officer, and if not, whether this unfitness is permanent in line with police pension regulations. It was concluded that whilst I am UNFIT, my condition is NOT permanent which means that between now and pensionable age there is a likelihood that I may be able to return to work as a police officer. This contradicts two previous Psychiatrist reports who both state that I should NOT return to the organisation. If I do, there is a likelihood that I will self harm or worse. I will not go into this here as I will cover in a separate blog when I have the reports in front of me to refer to for accuracy.

I have always been honest with professionals saying that if I have to return, I wont because of the level of anxiety I experience when thinking about work or stepping into the place. I would rather end it here and now. Suffice to say, my all or nothing personality has taken over, my impulsive behaviour has rocketed and my mood is currently rock bottom. I am horrible to be around, I have shut off from my partner, closed doors where otherwise I would have opened them and have even considered pulling out of all of my sport events which I have planned because I simply cannot be bothered with any of this anymore. My body is continually trying to catch up with the speed  my brain is going which leaves me mentally and physically drained.

Where I saw happiness and a future, I no longer see this. Where I saw light at the end of the tunnel all I see now is the dark tunnels in the London Underground.

I am in discussion with my federation rep.  I do not have the mental strength left in me to go through the next stages. I have given up. I have lost the fight and as this progresses I am left without pay. Another flaw in the system which is not great for someone off with mental health and no income. 

To follow …… …. Part 2 (crisis team, being reported as missing and being located by police).