Being Chased By The Black Dog

So things haven’t gone to plan since my last post, after having to pull out of the Hangman Ultra I was still hopeful of being able to take part in the Chiltern Wonderland 50, but unfortunately my injury didn’t get any better and I made the very tough decision not to start the race. 

Fast forward a month and I have my next race coming up, the King’s Forest 50k. I have the Positive Steps Events grand slam on my bucket list so really wanted to do this race as I will hopefully be completing the other two races in the series next year, and King’s Forest is one of my favorite places in the UK. I was planning to run the race right up until the weekend of the race but once again the universe had other plans.

A bit of history about me……

My parents split up when I was 18 months old, and I grew up with my Mum. My Mum is awesome and one of the most inspiring people in my life, she brought myself and my sisters up pretty much on her own and is by far the strongest person I know, which I believe is where I get my strength to keep pushing myself through the challenges I set myself. As a young child I was always socially anxious and forever being told that I was too quiet (I don’t think people realise how much of a negative impact being told that can have on a child). School was a nightmare for me and I hated every second of it, when it came to leaving and finding a job I didn’t care what I did as long as it got me away from school and as I grew up I would mask my anxiety by being the class wally or, as I got older, by the things that you get into as a teenager, and I carried on like this for a big part of my life silently suffering from my anxiety and depression. 

Around 9 years ago I met Hannah and I think everyone that knows the real me will know what a positive impact she has had on my life, and because of her encouragement I have put myself outside of my comfort zone – so much so that I’m not even sure where my comfort zone is anymore, which has helped me to finally know who I am and given me very strong plans for my future. Together we’ve also found a love of Trail running, being outside in nature has really helped me to shut my head up and through running ultras I’ve found a way to push myself and keep those dark thoughts of uselessness at bay, and the black dog went away for a bit.

Back to the current day…….

It’s the week leading up to the King’s Forest 50k and although I hadn’t been training as much as I would like I still felt positive about the race, but for some reason I was about to get caught by the black dog, and my anxiety and depression hit an all time low. So badly that I woke up that weekend not wanting to be around anyone yet not wanting to be on my own, feeling completely helpless and overcome by it all. There was no way I could run a mile let alone 32 so I took the tough decision to not race, a decision that I know made me feel worse and strengthened my feelings of uselessness.

After thinking about it over and over again, typing and deleting several hundred times I also took the incredibly tough decision to share my story on Instagram and Facebook, something that i found incredibly hard to do, I also wanted to share it here on my blog but I kept putting it off. The love and positive comments I received from people on social media has been astounding and I can’t begin to tell you how much it has meant to me. It also made me realise how many of you out there also suffer from similar things and how we all need to keep an eye out for each other, so although it has been tough I have written this blog post, not for sympathy, not to gain more followers, but to hopefully let others know that they aren’t in this alone and that if we can talk about our mental health hopefully we can help each other. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or like the world is getting too much, I’m by no means a counsellor or expert but please feel free to send me an email or message and have a chat, problems really are so much easier to face when shared.

Neil

3 Comments

  1. Steve
    05/11/2018 / 11:57

    Hi there
    Just got to keep hanging in there.
    Things will certainly improve again, it is hard in the winter months though with the lack of daylight…
    Says he, who just a few weeks was sooooo low that the end nearly happened!
    Just got to keep going!
    Hang tough and thanks for sharing your story
    👍

  2. 09/11/2018 / 09:06

    That sounds like a series of hard decisions. Physical knocks can really have a psychological and emotional impact, can’t they? I hope that you’re still able to get out into nature and do a bit of running – hopefully you don’t need to compete to be able to love doing it.

  3. 09/11/2018 / 10:30

    Writing about our experiences with mental health is such a good thing to do. It does feel daunting when we do it, but hey, if opening up can inspire just 1 other person to do the same and get they support they need, then it’s worthwhile and every post like this goes some way to demolishing the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

    I do the exact same thing, every year or so I write really personal post and it’s not only cathartic, but it tells everyone else that we are all only human, and none of us are immune. I love your closing sentiment about the importance of keeping an eye on each other too.

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