Insert joke about me being nuts here
If you know me at all then you know I am quick to crack a joke, especially at my own expense. Not this time: I want to lay bare exactly what this is all about.
Yes, I am walking 100KM.
I don't do serious very often, but I'm taking this fundraising challenge very seriously. Why? I suffer from a combination of PTSD and anxiety. Conditions that, I must admit, I have never taken very seriously until it all spun out of control.
Here's the honest truth; I've had PTSD and anxiety for a very long time.
Sometimes it affected me enough that I sought medical advice, got myself some prescription drugs and went to therapy. I would engage with my therapy, but never on the level required to actually get to the bottom of my anxiety and do something about it.
But they did help. I'd start to feel better and want to resume “normal” life and ignore the lingering problem, so I'd stop the pills, stop the therapy and carry on.
Meanwhile, I discovered that alcohol really helped keep all those nasty anxiety symptoms at bay, and didn't come with the same stigma (or side effects) as medication. So I started using alcohol as medicine (often in conjunction with my prescription drugs). Then I abused it.
I'm not proud to admit this, but it's the truth. I wound up in hospital several times with severe panic attacks, sometimes as a result of "over medicating". I wound up hurting myself and others as my mental state and, frankly, my life spiralled out of control because I just didn't want to admit there was a problem.
It got to the point where I couldn't work, I couldn't function and I couldn't cope any longer. Finally, in the summer of 2017, I had had enough.
Turning it around
One of the reasons I didn't take my situation as seriously as I should have was because I stubbornly clung to the foolish idea that I should be able to just "snap out of it" on my own. It's not like I had broken a bone, I was just a bit anxious sometimes. I did not want to admit I had a genuine illness that required serious attention. I also absolutely did not want to admit that I needed help, or put in the work to get better.
I was wrong. So very wrong.
Thankfully, I've seen the light. I took some time off work. I quit drinking. I sought treatment for my PTSD through Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy (it worked wonders) and I have been focusing on taking better care of my body, which also does wonders for keeping the "regular" anxiety in check.
Walking the walk
Through the initial part of that process I went for a lot of long walks to clear my head and try and push past a lot of negative thoughts and feelings I was no longer blotting out with booze. And guess what? It helped. A lot. But I could've avoided having my life spiral out of control had I got the help I really needed sooner. If I wasn't ashamed to speak up and say “I need help”.
More than just a physical challenge, completing the London2Brighton Ultra Challenge is my way of doing something about the huge social stigma still attached to mental ill health.
One in four of us have faced/will face a mental health issue this year. Now that I've finally received the help I need, I want to help others do the same. This year, I'm walking the walk to raise money for Mind, the mental health charity, and talking the talk in the hope that it will help others be more comfortable to speak up about their own struggles.
Please, will you help me, and the one in four who suffer from mental ill health?
Thank you for your support!
About JustGiving: Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. So it's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs for the charity.