Getting back on the bike – we all know this adage, you fall off, you get back on and continue. This was how I felt after my diagnosis, I mentioned it when talking about medication. Better was doing what I had done before I was ‘ill’. Now I guess this doesn’t just happen for people with a mental health diagnosis but also people with a major physical illness. It’s a learned behaviour that better is getting back on the bike and doing what you did before. So I got back on that bike, it was the equivalent of having maybe one stabiliser on, in my case a shed load of Lorazepam. I wobbled along for a couple of months, tried to take the stabiliser off by going back full time. Fell off again and that is when I walked in to my bosses office.
So in my story this is where the last pillar of my approach comes in Therapy/Counselling. Again, there is a bit of a stigma attached to admitting that you need/have counselling – it just emphasises the negative aspects of mental health. So I tried weekly sessions in Brussels, it was beneficial in terms of airing my negative thoughts, grievances etc. But we were limited by 2 things, a slight language barrier, she was not a native English speaker but more importantly I wasn’t ready to go where she wanted me to go. I was happy to tell but not yet ready to explore.
Back in Kendal a ‘crisis’ got me on the NHS radar and eventually via a painful phone conversation 12 weeks of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). The phone conversation was between First Step (CBT), the local Crisis team and myself. The Crisis Team said I was no longer ‘ill’ enough for them. The CBT team maintained that I was still too ‘ill’ for them. The CBT team said that they wanted me to have 3 months of being ‘stable’, so it was agreed that I would spend 3 months on my own becoming ‘stable’ I could call the Crisis team if I became ‘unstable’. Then guess what happened after being stable for 3 months? I was put on a 3 month waiting list for CBT!
CBT wasn’t a great success. A typical session would go like this – Therapist, how do you feel? Me pretty shit. Therapist – Why do you think you feel like this? Me (thinking to myself) I was hoping you could answer that! There is nothing wrong with CBT as an approach to resolving mental health issues and there are many wonderful practitioners out there and I have met several of them at Mind. But the NHS approach of a 12 week session will enable you to rewire 40 odd years of negative thinking and self esteem is wishful thinking.
At my last CBT session I asked her what I should do next – she said get some person centred counselling and gave me a website so that I could find someone. Shame that no one suggested that to me 9 months earlier! So I did and it is finally working for me. What does good therapy look like? In my case good listening but importantly for me, some probing questions and really importantly, again for me, is not allowing me to wiggle out of answering the question. I have mocked the 9 month delay via the NHS but with hindsight it probably gave me the time to realise that I needed additional support and I was ready to take that step.
So to go back to the start – things started to work when I realised that I wasn’t going to get back on that bike. Not only that but I wasn’t even going to get on the same bike on a different road. I needed a different bike, a different road and a map, therapy provides the map for me.
Run Every Day – Day 10 – 75 mins
I am not working this afternoon so I have decided to treat myself and have a daylight run rather than a dreary dark morning run. Actually it’s a double treat as I think I’ll go for a long run. As I wrote earlier the first 30 minutes are the hardest part of a run for me, I’m never sure what’s going to happen and I have done 9 days of short runs because I am being sensible so I deserve it. The weathers not great but I head up towards Scout Scar – the first 25 minutes are essentially uphill, but this is no bad thing on a long run as it restricts you to a sensible pace. The secret to a long run is a slow sensible pace, if you feel good you can always push yourself a bit harder later in the run, but you need to be a tortoise not a hare when running long. The other reason for running long is back to Marukami’s definition of small simple acts repeated many times can become meditative.
So I’m on the top of the scar via the Brigsteer Rd and the old racecourse and I turn left. I have bought my waterproofs but I think I’ll hold off for a while as it is only drizzle. It is not until I stop to take the photograph that I realise how soaked I am, but by now it is too late so I just continue. I drop down to where the Brigsteer Rd bends round to meet a path descending off the scar I head up, the wind and rain are now at my back and I continue up to the top of the scar again. The aim is to continue up to the mushroom and then head for home. At a certain point my mind drifts off thinking about what I am going to write in this blog. In a matter of seconds I trip over a small rock, I stumble a couple of steps before allowing gravity to win this battle. Luckily it is a wet muddy patch and I slide a short distance arms flailing like a piss poor imitation of a goal scoring celebration (definitely non league rather than premier league) – I pick myself up, have a quick look round to see if anybody noticed, God knows why I haven’t seen anybody anyway. I carry on, paying a bit more attention this time. I get to the mushroom and begin to head down and back home, it is proper rain now so I take the quickest route back to the road and down in to Kendal – wet, muddy but refreshed!
Shelter and Windswept Trees – Scout Scar – South Side