Change 

Sunday 5th July 2020 (5.52pm)

Wow, has it really been nearly three months since my last post? As we slowly edge out of COVID-19 lockdown and begin what is being termed the new normal, I thought I would pop my head out of my shell (yes like a little tortoise) and update you with what has been going on.

Hopefully you would have noticed a new name and look to my site as I am edging towards my third rebrand since starting this up. There have been so may changes in my life over the last few months I thought that I may as well change this as well. Change is good right? Every 12 months WordPress ask me to update and pay for my domain for the next year. When I looked at my site to do this, I had the sudden idea to change it. What was once depresseddetective.com mind-over-marathon.com (which still launches site) has now become swim-bike-runs.com. This starts a new beginning for me as my life has naturally evolved and changed, even within a short few weeks. The early years of my blog talked about struggles, pressures, illness, ideations of suicide, this moved on to a new relationship and happy times but being unhappy and stuck in a body and mind that  wasn’t me. Not being who I was and what I wanted to be drowned me in a toxic swamp.

I probably hit phase 3 of this weird journey I seem to be on in April when I was given the opportunity to move to a 3 bedroom house with a big garden in a lovely quiet location. Of course I jumped at it and not long after I spent a few hours each day at the house decorating. I painted every wall, door and skirting board. Bashed furniture together, put up curtain poles, lugged furniture around, built a lawnmower, BBQ, bought outdoor plants and pots (still alive after a few weeks), weeded the garden, moaned at utility companies and treated myself to an huge egg chair which is in the conservatory ready to build. As I look at what I have achieved, what I have gone through and what I now have around me, I can honestly say that I have not been this happy for years. As our COIVD bubble opens tomorrow, I cannot wait to welcome people to our home. I am back living close to friends who have been especially awesome over the last 6 months.  

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Hard life Olls?

I have continued to work hard with my online course which comes to an end in 4 weeks time. This distraction from my whole work situation has been a massive positive for me as I kept this overactive brain busy.

Seeing as my MRI scan in March was cancelled and any further knee surgery is in the unknown pile I decided to sign up for a couple of virtual run challenges. I am a person who is motivated if there is a goal and end result, otherwise it is all too easy for me not to bother going for that run when all I want to do is veg on the sofa.

The first challenge started 4th May and sees me running the 874 miles from Lands End to John O Groats in 6 months. This calculates to approximately 35 miles per week. Week 10 starts tomorrow and I am currently on 350 miles and near Knutsford. At the same time I am running the Welsh coastal path (something which I would like to do for real one day). Week 4 starts tomorrow and I am 89 miles into this 870 mile journey and kicking around somewhere just past Bridgend. It is also great to finally be able to meet up with friends to  both run and sea swim.

Apart from all of that, nothing much has happened. I am finally in a good place and I have met someone who is more of a pain in the ass than me! 

Subtle Art

Picture taken during today’s run

Wednesday 15th April 2020 (7.32pm).

Those who follow me on instagram (mind_over_marathon_runner) and Olly (olly_dog_cavachon) will know what we have been up to since my last blog and how we have been keeping ourselves busy. Whilst Olly continues to entertain, I am keeping my two feet moving and doing what I know will get me through the day and that is running. Grateful for some warm dry weather, I have got some good, enjoyable runs in and though it is the perfect weather for cycling, I have limited this to my local area due to the restrictions.

I am not seeing my therapist at the moment. I can via Skype or phone if I need to, but at the moment I am doing ok (yes I have my moments). I am banking my remaining sessions for another time.

My amazing friends keep me entertained everyday, with so many messages of support, encouragement and hope. Sometimes I am not the best in replying or I go off grid, but my friends know. I wasn’t looking forward to April and was dreading certain dates, but at the moment, they are becoming just another day.

I have a new life now. My past is exactly that. It has gone. No point reliving it. No point dwelling on it.  I have dealt with what I have needed to, accepted outcomes, had certain thoughts challenged by my therapist and reframed any guilt or grief that I was carrying and importantly should not have been carrying. Alongside this, I was sent a message on FB on Saturday which firstly made me laugh, and then got me thinking. This person, who I hardly know made me look at something from a different perspective. Since Saturday, their words have given me a nudge in the right direction. 

I am listening to an audiobook called ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck’ by Mark Manson. So much I can relate to of my past, but importantly so much I can relate to now as the next chapter unfolds. Writing this, I feel different, I feel like I have almost found myself again. For the last 5 months I have lived within what I can only describe as heavy cloud, where I had no strength to battle through. The boxing gloves I wore were like led weights stopping me from lifting my arms whilst my feet were trenched in thick tar, slowly lifting but making no progress. Now I am experiencing the cloud differently. It is a cloud as it should be, white, light and easy to glide through. 

Things have shifted for me and I smile as I right this. I have plans when all this is over. I am looking forward to a potential move (but happy here if it does not come off). I am looking forward to seeing my friends again, BBQs planned, nights out planned, runs planned and who knows what else we will get up to. I am looking forward to going home or across to London to see family. I am looking forward to whatever comes next.

The George that is writing this now has a new clarity, a freshness, a newness, a purpose, shit loads ahead of her, and a lighter heart to give.

Stay safe peeps.

xx

What. How. Will.

Friday 3rd April 2020 (8.18pm)

I started writing this on Wednesday but binned it as I did not have the words to articulate what I wanted to say. In fact, it probably was not the words, but the emotions, thoughts and feelings were duly lacking. I am not sure that I have them now, or whether this will go anywhere from the page that it is written on.

We are almost two weeks in to Covid-19 lockdown and I have asked myself a number  of questions:

  1. What has changed for me? 
  2. How am I dealing with these changes?
  3. Will these changes influence what I do in the future?

I initially thought that nothing has really changed for me, but I am not sure if this is true. I have always been happy in my own company and have been this way during many intermittent periods of adulthood. For the last 4 months I have lived alone, away from familiar surroundings, in a new town, adapting to change in many ways. I am living in an area and a street that I have always wanted to, but until lockdown felt it was not home and that it was a short term solution to where the hell I was going next. I moved here under difficult circumstances after a relationship break up, and up until the last 10 days felt trapped within, like a bird unable to fly, and blinkered to see what was around me. I would walk certain areas haunted and upset by the memories of walking there 12 months ago in completely different circumstances. Pre lockdown I would drive back to my previous town everyday, being drawn, not only by the beach, but because I considered it as home. I was craving to be back there, back where I lived, back in that life. Yet however hard I tried to look forward to a new future I couldn’t; maybe because it was because I kept returning. My drive to the beach would take me past my old apartment and home. Not once did I drive by and not think about whom and what I had lost. Sometimes I would pass twice a day, twice the pain. Not good for someone on the edge of fragility.

Lockdown has stopped me from going in my car, stopped me driving through my memory bank to the beach every day. It has forced me to look up and see what I have around me. I have Olly dog, I have to walk him as I have no garden. We have discovered new paths, new streets, new fields and new people. There are many more walks which we can venture to once parks re open, but for now, what we have is good. I am starting to see the same faces and whilst our dogs do dog things, I chat with the human(s) from a safe distance. I can often be found immersed in a podcast or audio book whilst chasing Olly and his ball. We have settled into a routine, and each day as we walk past the local shop he pulls me in to see the owner who gives him loads of attention and biscuits. It has become my shop for essentials.

I have found myself putting orders in online from the fruit and veg shop in the town, I have made visits to the local butchers and I cannot recall the last time I used a supermarket. I am finding all of this quite liberating and refreshing. I have been told to ‘slow down’ for many years and this has forced me in to it. I find that I am not rushing to swimming, or to a coffee shop, or to get across town to the beach, before getting home to do some study. I am going with the flow and getting everything done with time to spare. I feel less stressed and I feel more settled. Since the clocks went forward, I am also enjoying the late evening sunshine coming through my windows. I don’t feel boxed in anymore and I finally feel settled living where I do. I still do not know how long I will be here, I have seven weeks left on my contract. If I can stay I will.

That is not to say  I would not consider a move back to my old town, and yes of course I will frequent there when the restrictions are lifted. Both myself and Olly love the beach and our coffee shop there too much. The most significant change for me, has been not visiting my coffee shop (sometimes two) each day. My time of reading and reflection is now channeled elsewhere through audio and walking. Of course I miss my friends from running, my sausage Friday group, my Saturday breakfast crew and whatever runs or social events we got up to in the week. I had started to become quite sociable (laughing). Evidently grateful to the many people who have messaged me to check to see that I am ok. Also thankful to belong to a mad messaging group which keeps me entertained numerous times a day, in fact most of the day.

I am keeping busy, I have to. If I don’t, then my thoughts go back to happier times, I then think too much, dwell over stuff and that isn’t good. I have come a long way recently, helped and encouraged by my excellent therapist and friends. I am not the person I was, even two weeks ago. Slowing down, changing my routine and moving away from the known or habit has helped. There is still a big part of my life that aches, it will do for a while yet, I know that. 

I have a feeling that we will be under restrictions for some time to come yet. The biggest thing for me so far out of all of this is my new found ability to slow down and not to stress or worry about things that I cannot control. I am literally just going with things day by day. I will continue to shop local and make the most of what is on my doorstep. I am finally learning that simplicity is good. I even gave myself a haircut.

It would be interesting to hear if you will change anything in the future as a result of lockdown.

I still smile. I have to

Sunday 15th March 2020 (3.02pm)

This sums me up perfectly at the moment.

I’m sat in my usual coffee shop with Olly and feeling the need to write. Not sure why I feel so rubbish when things have been going so well lately. Maybe that is why, maybe I am not supposed to have a glimmer of happiness. Maybe I am not allowed to move on. Maybe meeting someone new wasn’t meant to be. Maybe it felt too right. Maybe this is how it’s going to be. Sadness and vulnerability overshadowing peace, happiness and joy. Hiding behind my cap, hiding behind Olly. Wanting to run, but bound by life. Needing to move away from here, but not knowing where. Stuck in my head, kicking and fighting, but at the moment, there is no way out.

Yet in the photo above I still smile. I have to x

No (wo)mans land

Friday 28th February 2020 (1235pm)

In my early years of blogging I used to score my mood (as recommended by my therapist at the time). I haven’t done this for a while but if I was to score today I would probably be a 3/10. Not sure why? I have just been swimming and now sat in Starbucks with my daily hot chocolate. I have something to read but not in the mood. I have swam 10k over the last 5 days which I am happy with but today felt like more of a process than enjoyment. I am going out for food tonight with friends, something which I have been looking forward to but now feel that I have no motivation to go. I will though. The weather is grim outside which does not help anyone.

My therapist who I see weekly says that I am grieving. A topic which I will look into and write about one day. I agree that I am, unable to put aside what I have recently lost with feelings, emotions and thoughts all over the place. Just lost in no (wo)mans land with nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, no one to confide in.

Feel shit really.

That will do.

For now.

The reasons why I run?   Part 1 – The early years

Wednesday 19th February 2020 (1102am)

I have been asked to put something together on a similar line for a magazine and it got me thinking about my early years.

The reasons why I run have changed over the years. Earliest memories of races and my competitiveness go back to junior school where winning everything was my only priority. I could run, and yes in those days I could run fast. I was a sprinter. My mother, to this day will argue that she was faster at my age. I will argue otherwise. Nature or nurture, whatever you want to call it, or however you want to define it, both important. The sporting genes and the competitive streak combined turned me into someone with immense drive and determination by the age of seven. I spent four years in Tenby juniors, that meant, four years of sports days. Four years of having to win. Four years of wanting to get my hands on that silver cup. Four years of being the best at something. Academically, I was middle of the class, I had no musical talent, my creativity as I have learnt probably just as bad; but sport was my thing. 

I had two main rivals at junior school for this magic cup. One who was a better jumper than me (both into the sand pit and over the bar), she could also throw the rounders ball further. The other, challenged me at running. The cup champion was the athlete 😂 who built up the most points over all the events that led up to the big day, which consisted of events on the track. By track I mean an uneven grass field with wobbly white lines acting as lanes. Between the ages of 7-11 this was my Olympic stadium, as the mass of supporters (a small number of family members for all my competitors) stood chatting on the side line on a random week day afternoon. 

Us athletes (some happy to be there, some not) would sit in our house groups which were divided into colours and local areas. Red (Caldey), Blue (Goscar), Green (Monsktone) and yellow (Giltar). I was in red, the colour of champions.

Even at this early age I experienced nerves and the excitement which came with wanting to win. I recall one night, upset and frustrated that I was rubbish at skipping and I could not do the skipping race. On the big day, I would not be able to eat my lunch through nerves. 

I certainly had no external pressure put on me from my parents. I was not bribed with an extra 50p for winning. I won the cup every year and also won a trophy for being the best sporting girl in my final year (pictured). I achieved what I had set out to achieve. Did this ambition and success shape other areas of my life and follow me through to where I am now? 

What did I get from winning and from my early success on that wonky track? It made me feel good to know that I had won. A sense of accomplishment and at that age praise and recognition from teachers and family. I was good at something. I felt like a champion, I was proud and I could walk around with my head held high. If there was an open top bus through the town of Tenby, you bet I would have been on it showing off what I had won. That would never be taken from me. My name displayed on the big notice board which was on the wall in the corridor leading to the hall. I would often look up at it whilst in the dinner queue. The cups in the trophy cabinet nearby. My name. My prize. 

Still a few years away from being a teenager and I was showing early ambition and a level of pressure that I put on myself to be the best.

Did I enjoy running? Yes I loved it.

Sometimes running does not work 

Saturday 15th February 2020 (6.33pm)

I should be doing something else but binned that off as kind of feel that I want to write this. That is what writing / blogging is about (for me). It has to be in the head and ready to pop out, otherwise it is forced and does not happen.

This past week has been difficult, a 90 minute psychiatrist appointment on Tuesday, not only examined my current wellbeing but will also have a potentially significant bearing on what happens in my immediate future. This took its toll on me and left me with a bumping brain for 24 hours. I am not able to disclose what went on here for medical and professional reasons but super grateful for those who are aware and have stood by me this week. I am seeing my therapist on Monday, and after the last session where I was emotionally unable to put more than 5 words together I am hoping it will be better. I have other shit and emotions going on which I am doing my best to deal with but failing at. 

My running has had to take a back step due to a malfunctioning knee and getting over illness. For the first time in what feels like ever I did nothing for 6 days. For someone who relies on this mentally, it is no wonder that I have been on breakdown mode. After seeing my knee surgeon last week, it appears that one of my previous grafts or my rebuild has ‘gone’ which is causing my knee to slip off track and out of alignment.  Advice, don’t run. Unfortunately this is not an option for my head. Ironically, my knee does not slip out when I run but I am limited to a certain number of miles before it starts to give me grief. I am awaiting an MRI scan prior to operation #12. I have had to withdraw from a number of events but will carry on with the swimming and cycling (hopefully).

I must give a big shout out to my Saturday morning run crew (as pictured below) who are providing me with some ‘normal time’, laughs and company at the moment. These along with many others who are missing from the picture today are training for an ultra marathon so Saturday morning is long run day. In previous weeks we have been caked in mud, sh*t, fallen on our butts, ran into bollards, laughed together, sworn together then shared breakfast together. Today, we decided to take on storm Dennis, and to avoid the worst of the wind and rain met at 0730. Anyone who knows me will appreciate that I do not run in the rain; however, this was a mission that I knew I had to go on. My head wobbled yesterday (as does most days), knee had been rested, and had I not gone, I would have sat and thought about stuff, worked myself up into more of a mess and regretted missing the run. I knew I needed to go and be around people, even if it was to run 13 miles. I have had to pull out of the ultra but the run group has become a big help to me. They probably have no idea of this.

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Sometimes a run does not clear my head. Sometimes I get too consumed with the mass of wires in my brain which do not connect to form rational sense, but instead fire off in all directions overwhelming me with emotion which I cannot control. Cue today, managing to keep it in check until about 2 miles from the end where I had to stop, let it go, get my sh*t together and carry on. No point in beating around the bush, every step of my 12.2 miles was mental hell. I was somewhere else, away with other thoughts, battling the demons which took the joy out of my run.

I was glad to finish. I was glad to stop.

Today, Dennis didn’t beat me. I did x

Thin blue line

Friday 7th February 2020 (12.43pm)

I am conscious that I left things a bit grim when I signed off yesterday, and I do not like to leave things is such a way. I had obviously written that post on Sunday after a few days of feeling like I had once again hit rock bottom. I am also aware that many people would have read this with thoughts in their mind about a colleague who we so tragically lost on Monday. Someone who I had the pleasure in working with, who in the end could find no other way out. As my social media filled up with images of ‘the thin blue line’ I sat in my own world shocked as everyone, but deep down hiding feelings of how it could have easily been me. 

It takes a lot of strength and courage to fight this demon, but for those who cannot, I totally get what races through your mind. No rational thoughts. No answers. No care. No hope. It may sound selfish to those left behind, but trust me, this is not something you think about. I don’t think you actually can think about it. It is as if nothing matters than getting the pain out of your head as well as escaping the exhaustion ripping through your body. I know I am not alone in these thoughts. 

I have heard people say ‘it is the easy way out’. Trust me it is not. Tell me what is so easy about it? Unless you have been there, unless you have had those thoughts, unless you become so desperate that there is no answer then you will never understand. You will never understand what it is like to be consumed by a million emotions when all you want is peace. All you want is quiet. All you want is an end to your pain.

To my friends / colleagues who may be reading this, replaying those last times, those last words, those laughs that you had with our friend, cherish them. Cherish those moments. Cherish those stories which you may have had from shift, in the police car, on Cardiff after dark or dealing with prisoners or vulnerable victims. For me, I remember the infectious smile, the bubbly personality, the hard worker from our hub days, the one who would happily help and do her best.

Please never think ‘what ifs’. What if I noticed? What if I had rang her? What if I had spoken to her? What if I had done anything different? Trust me, you would have all made a difference and impacted in some way through your friendship and kindness.

Keep talking though people, keep looking after yourself and others, keep offering those ears, keep giving out that phone number, keep making yourself available. We all know someone, may all see it in someone but they themselves don’t, or wont admit it. There is no shame in admitting that you are struggling with  burnout, depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness. Yes ILLNESS! There is no shame in feeling the pressure of a work load. There is no shame in asking for help. That is what friends, colleagues and supervisors are for. Don’t think you are letting your team down. Don’t think you are the weak link. Easy for me to say now having done exactly that. Many of you may be chasing promotion, aspirations and dreams of the next rank. Please do not do what I did and break yourself to get there.

I am not afraid to say I first self referred to welfare around 2007 ish when I saw that I was changing, becoming a different person, not handling things as I should have been, becoming stressed over stupid things, snappy and irritable. I will never forget the words I said to the counsellor ‘I want to drive down the M4 the wrong way’. Obviously I had to give assurances that I wouldn’t and we worked through things over the coming weeks. During the years that followed I found myself in automatic mode, going through the motions of exams and promotion. Was I happy? Yes and I honestly can say that I loved what I did. Had my head gone at this point? Yes, but I did not see it.

Working in Public Protection we had to see welfare as routine due to what we dealt with. It was during one of these visits early 2016 (I think) that I knew I would be back sometime. Not long after I self referred. Of course I kept this from management, for all of the reasons I mentioned above. Weeks later I walked out, that was nearly 4 years ago.

I am now under the care of my GP and seeing a therapist through RED ARC. Job people, the number is on the federation app / web page. Its confidential, the support is amazing so use if you need to. I am seeing my Psychiatrist on Tuesday.

Seeing how everyone has responded on social media to the news over the last few days makes me proud to part of the police family. You are all amazing people, doing an incredible job. Friendships become like no other. Whatever happens to me and my future with South Wales Police, I will always be part of it, I need that.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support me. I do not put my blog out there for attention or any response. I do it because so many people tell me how they relate but do not have the courage to say. 

If what I have said prompts even 1 of you to take my advice then that makes for a happy me. 

You know who you are. 

You know where I am.

xx

Stuck in Transition

Sunday 2nd February 2020 (1200)

Do you ever feel stuck between two worlds or situations where you are doing your absolute best to get out of one and move into another? Well that is where I am at, miserably failing at transition, like I cannot get out of my wetsuit and onto my bike. All I want to do is feel the freedom and joy of the bike, but the heavy, wetsuit is weighing me down, taking up too many thoughts of how to get out, slowly exhausting me and sapping me of what reserve I have left.

The problem I have is that I love my wetsuit and don’t want to get out of it.

I have thought long and hard about making this public, but as I plan to post this later in the week I will. Yesterday I stood on the edge of a cliff whilst out running with friends. For about 30 seconds I stood there alone watching the sea crash into the rocks below me. It was a low tide, the sun was shining and I thought how easy it would be just to say ‘f**k it’ and go.

A friend came around the corner, gave me a nudge … I carried on running.

Its ok not to be ok

Friday 24th January, 2020 (2.37pm)

Whilst sat in a coffee shop earlier today, my attention was drawn to a young girl sitting on her own crying. She had no drink, but sat at the table next to mine. I had come to the end and was just about to leave. It was one of those moments where I thought ‘do I check she is ok’ or ‘leave her as she may tell me to do one’. The second option didn’t bother me, as she wouldn’t be the first so to me it was a no brainer. I also would have regretted it. I sat in the chair opposite her and asked her why she was crying. I could tell she wanted to talk (I told her that I was not some crazy weirdo ‘hmm’). 

She told me that she did not want to cry in the street. After 5 minutes of my best ‘Achieving Best Evidence’ interviewing (lol) I got to the issue and we worked out a plan as to what she was going to do on leaving the coffee shop. Before that though she stayed and got a drink.

I am not telling you this because I think I am some hero. I just did the right thing at the time, in those circumstances. I am telling you this, because I have been there many times. Sat in coffee shop, upset, not knowing where to look. Nobody ever spoke to me, people walked by. I remember once, leaving in such as haze of fuzz wanting to end it all. Would someone taking time out to ask if I was ok have helped?

There are so many people around us struggling, it may not be as visible as this girl today, but in 5 minutes the girl had completely changed. I hope I made a difference to her life today like she did to mine.