A lot can happen in 5 years. When I finished the Epic Run, I felt invincible. It was a strange time and a strange feeling for me. It felt like I could do anything, I could conquer anything. Everything was going well. Strangely and slowly, however, my world started to implode. I started to implode.
For the previous 18 months all my focus had been on the run. Mile after mile of constant, mind numbing running whether on the road or preparing to be on it. Looking back now that’s the only way I feel I can describe how I was. My mind was numb. The decisions I made were ridiculous, bordering on insane. I didn’t even recognise myself. This was not a man I was proud of at all.
I dedicated my last blog to my parents. The people that made me who I am today. They must have struggled so hard during those weeks, months and possibly years afer the run. I think I must have been a hard person to be proud of, as I hurt so many people in the afermath of that run. I won’t name you, but all I can do is say sorry. It changes nothing but it allows me to say it.
I had done it. I had completed the challenge that everyone told me was impossible. I had run 2,500 miles around the UK mainland and I had done the entire thing in 50 days and with a smile (or at least an attempt at a smile) on my face. I remember lying in bed that night and just thinking, “What next?” Offers from all over the place came in for me to go run with people, to see what I could put my body through again. All I wanted to do was sit down and do nothing for a while. It’s a strange feeling – to feel lost, to feel useless. I know you will read this and think how can a person who has just done 2,500 miles feel useless but that’s exactly how I felt. I had no purpose anymore. No reason to get up and put my socks on, life was, well, life was ‘normal’ again. There came a point about 3 weeks after the run. I call this, the bottom I was giving motivational speeches in schools, giving out awards, opening buildings, signing autographs, all the while fighting ‘The Black Dog’. It’s a fight many have had, there is never a winner. It’s the first time in my life where I felt like I had nowhere to turn. I remember so clearly the message I sent to my mum. I can only imagine what she must have felt, watching her son break.
ME: I’m having dark thoughts mum Don’t know what to do anymore.
As always, as mothers so often do, her reply made me smile. So simple..
MUM: You don’t need to have dark thoughts, we care.
To feel lost is one thing, to feel alone is far, far worse, I wasn’t alone.
To the outside world everything seems fine, you look fine (although weight fluctuates), and you can function normally but inside you’re screaming. It affected everything I did after the run, all the people
I knew suffered because I was suffering.
It’s taken me 4 years to put the run to bed. To move past it, to get back to being me again.
Like anything in life, it was a battle, hard work and something I had to work incredibly hard to beat. I’m not sure I would call it depression. I have spoken to people who suffer with this and I’m not sure I felt the same way that they do. I felt more like every decision I made was wrong, or maybe the decisions I made were not ones that I would have normally made. I could get up every morning and I could go to work. My problem was I didn’t know where I was supposed to fit in, what I was supposed to do now.
I then began to blame everyone else for things I did and the decisions I made. I blamed everyone but myself. In the cold light of day and with the help of hindsight, what I was doing was sociopathic; I was telling people what they wanted to hear, I was lying to the people I loved and cared about in order to try and make them happy. It was a way for me to not deal with everyday things, not to have to deal with confrontation or make decisions I didn’t want to have to make.
Once the low point has been hit and you are at the bottom it’s much easier in a way, there is nowhere else to go but up. I make it sound like these things happened over a few weeks or months, when in fact this was the next three years of my life. It wasn’t until my 32nd birthday when I was sitting at home after another relationship had broken down that I knew I needed to sort myself out. I wasn’t about to check myself into rehab or anything like that but I knew I needed to sort myself out before anyone else got hurt or before I plunged deeper into despair.
I knew (and still know) only one way to sort myself out – I kicked my own ass, and this time I did it properly. The running shoes came out and off I went. I had a job I loved, I had my health, my family, my friends and my house, everything else would take time but I would get there.
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