I’m not sure of the right adjective(s) to use to fully describe these past few weeks: difficult, intense, manic, emotional, stressful, revealing… I could go on. But whilst things are far from fully resolved, hopefully life’s proverbial waters will soon be much calmer and Elaine and I can start to look—and plan—ahead.
For the numerous reasons that generated the previous paragraph’s list of adjectives, I have become somewhat distracted from my Time to Change challenges, but as of today I am officially back!
Overweight, but back.
I must admit that progress towards completing some of the new tasks has been slower than I would have hoped. I’ve done a fair bit of research and sent plenty of e-mails, but I’m struggling to get positive responses (in truth I’m struggling to get any responses!). Obviously it’s slightly frustrating, but perhaps I was spoilt last year by the incredible support and help I received—often from people I didn’t know.
But if you think I’ve been deterred from achieving my individual targets, and more importantly the main goal of doing everything I can to make even the smallest difference by being open about my own experiences of mental health, then—as you may have guessed—you would be wrong. In fact, I’ve added a couple of extra “challenges” just to raise the bar a little higher; so I have to push myself a little harder.
I remain incredibly frustrated that my chronic hip condition makes physical challenges much tougher (and occasionally very painful) to accomplish, but they are not completely absent from the list because… well because there are times in all our lives when (be it physically or mentally) we hurt…
I do have some understanding of what it’s like to have an unseen yet debilitating illness, and the impact it can have on you—and those around you. I know how hard it is to talk to someone… anyone; and I am well aware of how hard you have to fight to make the pain go away. Working with and blogging for Time to Change has (perhaps inevitably) brought many suppressed memories back to the surface, and the process has undeniably affected me; but even when the black shroud descends, I know I have the love, support and inner strength to keep going until the feelings pass—and they do pass.
That inner resolve will also be important as I continue with my challenges. If I need help to make something happen, I will keep asking until I am lucky enough to find that help; if I need to train and push myself physically to complete a task, then that’s exactly what I’ll do. There is a part of me that continually needs to prove something to myself, but if I wanted to sum up why I’m doing all of this, the answer came about a month ago, in this reply to my first Time to Change blog:
“Richard, your story really did strike me in a way that other pieces of writing haven’t before. It describes so much for me in terms of being told it would be best if I see a doctor; I was scared to and it took a year until I eventually sought help. I remember the feelings of that doctor’s visit, and getting upset when speaking to my GP. My family didn’t know anything about my depression until I [felt] forced to tell them. I tried counselling first just like you did; it didn’t work for me. I’m now on antidepressants and they are working as they're helping me fight back and giving me a way of coping with these feelings I’m experiencing, but also helping me help myself a little bit more. [Your] story brings me hope that I can still have a life and depression doesn't have to control me. I do still struggle but I’m finding a way to live my life. Lots of love Dionne x”
I don’t know Dionne. I don’t know where she lives, how old she is, what she does for a living; nothing… other than in some small way I may possibly have made a difference. That’s why I have to keep going… and that’s why I have to complete my challenges.
Below is the link to the current list: the new additions include interviewing an international sportsman and woman, singing in a choir (where is Gareth Malone when you need him?) and meeting a “soap” star. If you think you can help with any of the tasks, please drop me a line—I’m really keen to sing a song with a local band if anyone knows someone… who knows someone etc.
Next up is my stand-up return on 26th August, and I’m also hoping to get back on the netball court with Grangetown’s Prem squad very soon. Actually it’s probably a toss-up which will get more laughs….
Remember there’s no fundraising; it’s all about awareness, so if anything I’ve written or done has struck a chord, then please feel free to share this blog, or my Facebook page. I am really grateful for the support.