Wednesday 14th March 2018 (6pm)
I took this photo at 8.04am on 14th March 2016. Exactly two years ago I was in hospital waiting for two bolts to be removed from my left knee. Ironically, I decided to read 220 Triathlon whilst waiting. I knew one day that I would be taking part in a triathlon. Goals. Challenges.
Roll back to September 2014 when I had a tibial osteotomy which resulted in my left shin being broken, moved and bolted back together to help with osteoarthritis of the knee. Later, the bolts became problematic and needed to be removed.
As I think back to two years ago I had began the biggest challenge that I would ever face. I did not know that then. I had already experienced suicidal and destructive thoughts but little did I know how my mental health would manifest itself and destroy who I thought I was. I was kept in hospital that night but I remember the pain in my head being worse than in my leg.
I was not coping but I was trying to keep strong and remain focused. One week later I knew that I would be sitting my Inspector board. I had studied hard, I was well prepared, I was doing the job after a temporary promotion. Yet behind the success of what I was doing in work, my world was broken, I was broken. I had been for a long time. I just did not accept or realise how much.
As I lay in my hospital bed that night, I had some lovely messages from friends, offering help, support, visits, doing stuff for me at home. I still remember those people and the kindness that was offered. I remember the following morning after an awful night, when a friend took time out of work and came to pick me up. My head was all over the place, I felt physically and mentally drained but all I wanted to do was go to Costa. So we went. I did not want to go home. I did not want emptiness as that is how I felt. I did not want to see my file of work for my boards. I could not face it. I wanted to hide, yet I wanted success. I was hoping that revision would be my distraction but I could not even look at my notes. My head was so sore, my knee was painful and the person who I wanted by my side was not there.
Not ideal timing, but I needed the operation if I wanted to get promoted. I had to prove that I was physically fit and in compliance with my fitness test. I wanted it so much.
I arrived at my Inspector board on crutches. Physically broken. Mentally doomed. I held it together and I was pleased with how I performed considering everything at the time.
I missed out on the board. I was not going to be promoted to a substantive Inspector. No excuse. My world around me crumbled. For those of you who have followed my journey you will know that this was the final straw. I tried to carry on in my role. I tried to be ‘happy smiley George’. I couldn’t. I packed up my things and left the office.
Failing the Inspector broad was the best outcome. I can see that now. I would have broken at some point. I was a ticking time bomb. I was a world of crazy waiting to happen. I was able to get the help and support I needed at the right time.
Two years on, mentally I am in a better place. There have been lots of battles along the way but I am doing ok. There will always be ‘blips’ and this I accept, just like I have ‘blips’ with knee pain. There is no difference. I just deal with it.
Physically, I am turning into a machine (laughs). I am fitter and stronger than ever. I am doing things that I never thought I would be doing. I believe I have smashed my biggest mental challenge, now it is just a matter of smashing my biggest physical challenge.
Ironman Wales I am coming to get you.