When I started this blog way, way back one of the main motivations was to tackle my fragile mental health. I found that writing was a great release for me, it was a mental cleanse badly needed at times when I feared my mind was overflowing with toxic negativity. It allowed me to tackle difficult personal issues head-on, as opposed to allowing them to fester and rot deep down within, causing unseen but irreparable damage.
If I was anxious or angry about something I would write about it and afterwards it wouldn’t seem quite so bad anymore. It was akin to throwing out the dirty bath water and starting afresh. Initially I was concerned about the reaction I would get, exposing myself in such a brutal fashion. But, almost universally, my posts were met with empathy, understanding and kindness. Many had been through, and shared, similar experiences.
This is where WordPress, and blogging in general, is so great. The sense of community. No matter how awful your personal experiences might be, somebody has been through it and probably a lot worse. It puts your personal plight into much sharper perspective. I was able to connect with like minded souls, to support them as they supported me via the medium of the written word. Airing your dirty linen in public carry risks but I learnt the benefits far outweighed these.
I want to blog about mental health more. It’s a subject I’m passionate about and even more so in these most turbulent of times we are living through. If living is even the word. Existing? Surviving? Life is to be lived and we cannot do that unless we take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally. The two go in hand and we often overlook one in favour of the other, not recognising this connectivity. I try to cover both bases through my writing and my running.
Both have been victims of the the motivation monster in recent weeks as Northern Ireland enters its eighth week of lockdown. My running has been sporadic and I can feel my fitness levels dropping off as the weight creeps back on. When I do run, I’m frustrated and annoyed with myself for the lack of pace and stamina. I don’t want to be back blasting out 3:30 marathons but my current efforts are worse than when I started running, seven years ago. It seems an awful long way to go.
This, in turn, hasn’t been good for me mentally. A voice within tells me to give up, I’m too old and I need to knock it on the head. But I see the link, it’s there. As my physical training has tapered off, so my writing has as well. I’ve been blogging less and my new book has been sitting staring at me for two months now. I’m feeling sluggish and cloudy, the edge has been taken off. It’s a slippery slope that I’m slowly sliding down again. I can sense it every day that passes. The work ethic, the consistency isn’t there at the moment.
So, I need to get my head back in the game. Because what’s going on in my head largely dictates the quality of life I lead. It also impacts upon my loved ones and the relationships I have with them. I’m reading more about mental health and strategies and tactics I can apply to my everyday life. This blog is at the heart of this and I hope I can be more productive in respect of both the quality and quantity of forthcoming posts.
I plan to start today with a 4.5 mile run and a blog post. So far, the latter looks like it’s almost in the bag. When I’ve finished it, I’ll lace up my trainers and hit the roads. It won’t be pretty, and it will be painful. But I’m determined to do it even if the heavens open or hell freezes over. My fellow bloggers can hold me accountable so feel free to comment and ask how I got on. Who knows, it may inspire one or two of you to blow away the cobwebs and confront your own lockdown blues.