Exercising for a better mental health

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).

Time to slow down, lay of the hot chocolate and Chinese!

Monday 28th May 2018 (12.43pm)

Holiday is over as I sit here in Starbucks garden having just completed a 3.4k swim. I have a bike session and S&C to do later 🤮. First swim back after over a week and not surprisingly I wanted to chuck up at some point. Perhaps stuffing a Chinese last night is not good pre match swim prep but my excuse was that I was still in holiday mode. I am also going to cut back on my daily hot chocolate at a coffee shop and find some other healthier option. Me being a fuss arse (apparently) will mean that no doubt I will be reaching for the water (bore off like).

I totally tuned out whilst I was away to enable myself to refresh mentally as well as physically. It was what I needed with a few things going on around me at the moment. I learnt that I can actually slow my brain down, but carrying on with that now back in the UK will be a challenge. I have already broken rule 1 and that is turned back on my social media notifications. I felt unloved when my phone didn’t beep every 4 seconds (must apologise to someone who will tell me off for this).

A friend is trying to slow my pace of everyday life down. Things such as sitting still for 5 minutes (get bored), driving slower (not like I have stolen the car – but obvs within limit and safely 🙄) and walking without feeling that I have to get to A to B as quickly as I can (if I could run I would). I am sure there are more things but I probably switched off to them. Joking aside, I know what I need to work on but there are just too many things that I need (want) to do at once.

Whilst away I considered dropping out of some of my events and focusing my energy and effort elsewhere. This quickly changed last night when I saw my next months training plan and felt the buzz again for exercise. I exercise for a number of reasons and I know to stop this now would be detrimental. My ‘all of nothing’ attitude will be reassessed in October (maybe).

For now I am going to publish this, maybe not look at my phone for 9 seconds (I have to start somewhere) then head off for a walk (slow) with friend (who will tell me off if too fast).

Day 4 in Greece – still no update from work

Wednesday 23rd May 2018 (7.37pm Greek time)

I am having the most fantastic time away, lazing by the pool all day followed by an evening walk. Coming away was exactly what I needed to refresh my head. Mentally this evening I am not ‘feeling it’. Nothing is wrong, it is just one of those moods which is hard to shift. The mood that if not booted can land me up in a rut. I know it will not come to this, I am in too nice a place to dwell on any shit.

I have not heard anything about my SMP appointment which I had on Friday. I was told that I would have heard either yesterday or Monday. I appreciate people are busy and these things take time but I would like to know now. I will see if anything dumps into my inbox tomorrow. Until then I will continue to try and not care of what the outcome will be. I am starting to think that the information is being held in case it is thought I will take a long swim into the Aegean Sea.

Don’t worry I won’t 🙄

Coming away has allowed me to slow down and switch off. At home I feel that I am always busy rushing around, doing what I don’t know. At home, my head always runs around at a million miles per hour and my body feels that it is in a race to catch up. Here in a different time zone I am moving at a different pace. I wonder if I can bring this pace home with me? Things which I have not done for a while such as read books, listen to music (unless on the Wattbike or rushing around in the car) and just taking some time for me have reinforced that I should unconsume (is this a word?) or declutter myself with my own demands.

The other solution is simple – take more holidays.

Welcome to Greece – Day 1

Sunday 20th May 2018 (5.58pm Greek time)

Here begins my week in Kos. I have taken time away on my own to recharge and refresh after the last few weeks of limbo, stress and uncertainty. Either tomorrow or Tuesday I will find out if I still have a future at South Wales Police. I was asked if I wanted to know whilst I am away and I have decided to. I would not be able to ignore the email in my in box. Curiosity would get the better of me. I did think of having a WiFi / social media break but I like to check in now and again.

I saw my GP on Wednesday, my medication has been increased by half. I told her that I was going on holiday. She asked if I was going to come back. Depends on the outcome was my reply (laughing). I don’t know which way things will go after seeing the SMP (work Dr) on Friday. I answered what was asked of me, but I have no idea. Once again, I thank a couple of people for keeping me together recently. 

I have picked the perfect place to unwind and get on with the chapters of my book. Today has been a complete lazy ass day of sitting around the pool reading. It is pleasantly quiet, I appear to be the youngest around (apart from 1 child) and that is how I like it. People are friendly and I could not have asked for anything more for day 1.

I arrived just after 4am and after walking into my room I knew I would like it here. I don’t mind travelling alone, I have done it a few times and I am happy in my own company and space. I am 2 hours ahead of the UK, I sit here in the bar / restaurant area over looking the pool. The water is still, 2 people laze on the sun beds, and a couple of people mingle behind me taking pictures. The sun is going down but it is still very warm.

I am not sure what I will do this evening, probably nothing. I have been for a walk to the local town, sussed out the restaurants, found the beach and decided on a run route for the morning (finding my bearings mother). I will probably just stay here, have some food and watch whatever I have downloaded on iPlayer or find something on Netflix. 

I like have no plans. I like having nothing to do. After all, it is me time.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Tuesday 15th May 2018 (12.48pm)

It has been a while since my last blog post so I thought I would check in and let you know how things are going.

It is Mental Health Awareness week and ironically it is the week that I have my final medical meeting with work regarding my future to see if I will be medically retired on ill health. Friends are asking how I feel about it and my answer generally is that I do not know, as whilst I have thought about it, I haven’t in any detail or depth. Maybe I have parked it in that part of my brain which I only access if I have to. Maybe I am thinking that the process is about someone else and not me. Maybe I have accepted things, maybe I haven’t.

The reality is that I know that I cannot go back to a job which I once loved and lived for. If the decision is made for me to be retired then I will be gone within 28 days. I will be turning my back on someone I thought I was, but this last two years has taught me otherwise. This last two years has changed me and made me realise what is important. I have always chased a successful career, the next rank or promotion. Why? Partly that is what society tells us to do but more so because of my own determination and drive.

It has taken two years of contemplation and reflection for me to find me and realise who I really am. There were things along the way which I tried to hide, fight and box away, but I soon realised that they quickly resurfaced so it was better to smash them in the chops from the outset.

If I am not medically retired then I will cross that bridge as and when. If this is the case, there are things going on in my head which scare me but there is no point talking about that here and now.

As always I am grateful for family and friends who know when things are shit and just pick me up and pull me along.

Last night I was given the opportunity to talk about my journey at an event in Cardiff. People say that I inspire them, but I was truly inspired by people who I met last night, each with their own story of pain and success. Each with their own path in front of them, amazing business women who continue to develop and shape what they do.

Maybe one day I will be sharing potential business ideas, for now, its about having no pressure or stress around me, continuing with my blog and the chapters of my book, oh and the small matter of Ironman training.

Next up, GP tomorrow and my medical appointment with work on Friday x

The Highs and the Lows

Sunday 29th April 2018 (11.12am)

I will never understand depression, once I thought I did but now I am not so sure. It is like the devil, when things are going seemingly well there is an attack telling me I am not supposed to be happy. Not supposed to move on, stuck in a situation which is hard to deal with. I am going through change and a period of instability. In less than 3 weeks I will know what is going on with my job within the police. There is a distinct possibility that I will be medically retired. Whilst I have accepted this, I still feel vulnerable at the moment. Friday night is evidence of this.

I am still in therapy and still on my medication. This week I have my regular session with Mind and my 3rd counselling session through the NHS. I thought I was done with counselling but it transpires that I am not. Looking at things with a fresher head and new perspective has helped and it is good that I have the extra support over the next few weeks. My GP is always on hand but I do not have to go as regularly as I did. My head is busy, it will not switch off. The headaches are back but I know the reasons for this.

Please don’t think I am that low, I am not. I have a lot going on at the moment compounded by the fact that I am also going through a divorce. ‘They’ say as one door closes another door opens and I am confident of this both personally and professionally. It’s time to move on. It’s time for a fresh start and new beginnings. It has taken over 2 years but I finally feel ready. Ready to have that real smile back on my face, ready to see what my future is all about.

I have plans, plans which excite me, plans which involve me being me and doing what I want to do and when. Plans which may not make me the big bucks but I am not about that anymore. 

My training is still a big part of my recovery as I reflect on last week’s London Marathon and prepare for the next event. I feel physically and mentally drained and my coach is allowing for time out and easier sessions over the next few weeks. I am grateful for this. Soon I will also be taking time away to concentrate on my book away from day to day distractions. 

Time for me.