Battling against the depression and trying to push the training!
There was some concerned voices about the intrusive suicidal thoughts that I mentioned being subjected to. All I can say to reassure you is that these are thoughts as opposed to intent; I have no plans to end my life.
I have pondered whether I should be blogging regularly about my mental health, this is something deeply personal after all. I think that it is healthy for me to do so and hopefully my journey will help those with similar issues. I encourage anyone with mental health conditions to talk freely about it. This is not our fault and we should never feel ashamed!
I can track back my bipolar symptoms to childhood, but my diagnosis was a lot later. I had my first break down back in 2008 and was subsequently diagnosed and treated for clinical depression with social and general anxiety. This breakdown was probably triggered by stress at work, my coping mechanism was at saturation point that was for sure. I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder a couple of years ago following another more significant break down. They say it is easier to look back and that is certainly true; I can identify at least seven or eight manic periods in my life and the depression has always been there throughout to a lesser or greater extent. The manic side of my illness seems to be under control with the cocktail of medication I am currently taking, but unfortunately the depression is an ongoing battle.
Post diagnosis has been and continues to be a really tough time. I have gone from travelling through the UK and abroad giving talks on my passions and how I use them for the good of wildlife conservation to barely being able to leave the house. I have had to turn down requests for talks and curtail my ambitions. I have had to step down from my role on the OSME Council, something that I am still very passionate about now. I feel like I have gone from someone that was making a difference to someone who is of no value to anyone or anything. I have gone from someone who could run multiple marathons to someone who has gained so much weight (courtesy of the medication to some extent) that he can barely run 2 miles. I am exhausted on daily basis because I have sleep apneoa on top of everything else that it is no wonder I don’t have the energy to drag myself out of this depression!
Things are hard at the moment, but there are potential positive changes around the corner. On Monday I have a trip to hospital to pick up a CPAP machine that should help me sleep better and reclaim my energy levels. This can only help me with the fight back I have ahead of me. I also have and appointment coming up in the next few weeks with my psychiatrist where my medication will be reviewed. Hopefully I will be able to change the anti-psychotic I am currently taking to one that does not promote weight gain.
There is no doubt that I am struggling to manage things at present, but I am not just sitting down allowing things to consume me. The fight back has begun. I have been attending a weight management course at the local hospital. We usually do and hours circuit training followed by an information talk to give some guidance of how we can best maximise our weight loss. The circuits are getting progressively harder, though I feel I am managing them quite well currently. The information talks are pretty useful too, most things we are taught are common sense, but put in such a way that they are more applicable to daily life. It is weigh in day on Monday and I am expecting to either have gained or stayed the same. This is mainly due to my eating habits over the early part of the week, I tend to comfort eat when I am feeling low. I am my own worst enemy! That said I thing weight loss is a big ask until I change my medication and have my sleep apneoa under control. I need to try harder with my eating habits however and not use the other contributing factors as an excuse not to try!
I am trying with the running, but it is really hard work currently. Last weekend I managed a 3 mile route with my friend Sam. It was gritty, but I managed to run all of it except a short section of hill.
It is frustrating how difficult running is at the moment, but the only way it will get easier is by keeping at it!
I am having to work hard at pretty much every aspect of my life at present, but I know why and that is a good starting block. I will move forward to where I was, I just have to accept it will take time and effort. Running the Pennine Way will be achieved at some point, but in the meantime as long as I hit smaller goals I will be heading in the right direction.
Please check back regularly for blog posts charting my bipolar journey and of course progress in my training. You can of course always support me with comments of encouragement or donate to the Hen Harrier LIFE project here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/henharriers