Tuesday 21st November 2017 (12.40pm)

Red Carpet, Prince Harry and a Special Award

After my last blog of taking ‘a few too many pills’ I thought today I would bring some positive vibes back into my writing. Well I will try anyway. For those of you who do not follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, know me in person, or have even been hiding under a rock  then you will not have seen the photos or be aware of the incredible evening which I had last Monday (13th November).

On Monday, I travelled to London, a City which I am becoming more and more attached to each time I go. I, along with my 9 other Mind Over Marathon team mates had been nominated for a Virgin Giving Money, Mind Media Award. We had been nominated for Best Documentary. Such an incredible honour to be nominated and up against some truly remarkable people and programmes.

The awards were held at the Odeon, Leicester Square and I knew that Prince Harry would be attending. Having never been to an awards ceremony before I did not know what to expect. Being a special and momentous occasion, I even wore a dress and heels, which is a rarity for me. I am glad I booked a hotel close to the Odeon, as me walking in heels with plantar fasciitis was interesting.

It was so good to arrive at the Odeon and see all of my fellow runners, along with run coaches, Nick and production crew. It was then the enormity of where we were and what we had achieved kicked in. Firstly there was red carpet, secondly there were lots of celebrities on the red carpet being photographed and thirdly, we did not have to queue, we just walked in past security to have our pictures taken on the red carpet!

We then headed to our seats which had been individually reserved for us. We were sat in the 3rd row behind Andrea and Nadia from Loose Women and behind us was Lorraine Kelly. Does it get anymore unreal for a normal girl who spoke about her mental health. The awards were opened by Stephen Fry and hosted by Fearne Cotton. Soon on stage were George Ezra, Harry Judd, John Thomson, Bryony Gordon, some of the cast of Hollyoaks and many others who I had seen on my TV screen. Everyone who had been nominated in their specific category were amazing. I saw clips of incredible courage, adversity, bravery and sadness. All nominees recognised and rightly deserved.

Approximately half way through the evening Prince Harry stepped on to the stage and gave a moving speech about how conversations around mental health were changing. His speech was emotional as he talked about 10 special people who had not only opened out personally to friends and family but shared their story with the nation. Prince Harry thanked those 10 people and announced that the Special Award on ‘Speaking Out’ was to be awarded to the 10 Mind Over Marathon runners. My shoes had been put back on at this point as all 10 of us made our way up the steps to the stage to be presented with our award. All I could think about was ‘there is Prince Harry, walk like you are not in pain, and whatever you do, do not fall over’. Fearne Cotton was holding a silver tray with 10 medals on, but Prince Harry just wanted to give us all a hug. I did not want to let him go. Was I really on stage receiving a hug off Prince Harry with people cheering and clapping? This is a moment that I will never forget. The standing ovation and that moment was one of the proudest that I have ever had. To be standing there next to 9 other incredible people was amazing.

Mel, Poppy, Rhian, SeSe, Claudia, Sam, Paul, Steve, Jake we did it. Twelve months ago, we started this crazy journey together and along with Chevy, Charlie, Nick and the amazing crew we created something incredible. We have all had our struggles along the way, but having each and every one of you at the end of the phone or WhatsApp group is what makes our bond so special. I guess not one of us would ever have imagined on that cold morning in Bisham Abbey that we would have mixed with Royalty, ran a marathon and/or jumped individual hurdles. Heres to the next MOM challenge. X

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Friday 17th November 2017 (6.44pm)

A few pills too many

Though this is dated last Friday, this first paragraph (and last) in bold italics is the here and now (Sunday 19th November, 7.02pm). I have been undecided as to whether this was going to go public but I thought that I would remain honest and true to myself and all of you who have read and supported me. What follows was not easy to write. Things are still very raw. Even looking at it now I don’t believe that this was actually me. I am not writing this out of sympathy or attention. It is simply to provide the cold hard facts of what it looks like and means to suffer from a depressive illness.

I have spent today in A&E. Yesterday was not a great day. I cannot put my finger as to why or even if anything had happened as I do not know. This may become apparent as I write. Early morning I was hit with reality about my diagnosis and my future as a Police officer. In the afternoon, I found out that I had been extended on half pay until the end of the month but as of December I would be on zero pay. This was hard to take considering my illness is preventing me from working. Rock and hard place comes to mind. I know rules are rules. I have been stressed about this over the last few days and as such my head has not stopped hurting since Tuesday.

I took Olly out on a nice walk late afternoon, came home and gave him his dinner. I was not hungry but made myself have something to eat. At about 7.15 I decided to take 2 paracetamol for my bad head. I then thought, I will take 2 more, then another 2, then another 2, then another 2 … then my phone rang and I saw the name of the Consultant Psychiatrist who assessed me through work a few weeks ago. I wanted to speak to him so I answered my phone. Something I had not been doing recently to friends. I realised that I had been sitting on the kitchen floor, Olly was jumping over me licking my face. It was like the Psychiatrist knew what was going on. It frightens me to think what may have happened had my phone not rang. I told him what I had just done. He advised me to go to hospital as I would need blood tests to check for liver damage and drug levels. This really shit me up. I did not realise that taking the amount I did on the bounce could cause such damage (I know the pack says no more than 8 in 24 hours, I took more than that within 30 seconds). I did not see this as an overdose, yet it was. I did not want to go that night. I thought nothing would be wrong with me as I am fit and healthy. I reasoned with the Psychiatrist, and promised that I would go to A&E Friday morning.

Today, I woke up early and had a nice walk down the beach with Olly. As promised, I went to A&E. I arrived by 10am and got triaged and assessed quickly. I had an ECG and a number of blood tests taken. At 10.29am, my phone rang. It was a friend from work who I have not wanted to speak to recently. For no other reason, than not being able to or wanting to ‘people’. I was sat in a waiting room, my phone was on silent, yet I could see who was calling on my Garmin. Something made me answer the phone. All I could say was that I was in hospital and that I was ok. I was then called by the Doctor. Within 35 minutes, 2 of my friends were sitting with me in the waiting room.

I felt like I should not have been there, like I was wasting NHS time. There were people there with serious injuries and illness and I was there as I had been an idiot. I wanted to leave. I felt ok, but before I could be discharged, blood drug levels, liver function and clotting had to be checked. This is where the wait came in. At 3pm I was allowed to leave,  as I was going to discharge myself. Physically I was fine. Mentally… well, that is work in progress. The Dr had spoken to someone in the Psych team and were happy that I had enough support around me. My friends stayed with me.

I do not want to die. Things are shit at the moment but I have lots to look forward to. This was just a blip, a moment of irrational behaviour, a moment of stupidity. I sit here now typing this and I look at Olly my little dog who is asleep. I think of the joy and love that he has bought to my life. We are a tag team and it upsets me what I did last night whilst he was looking up at me.

I toyed whether to tell my fellow Mind Over Marathon runners in our Whats App group. I decided to text the group to say what a fuckwit I had been. The support I have had has been amazing. What would I do without this fantastic group of people in my life? My line management are aware and my Fed Rep. Support has been offered, but over the next few days I want to shut away, go walking with Olly, watch crap TV and eat my body weight in chocolate.

This afternoon I was supposed to attend CBT, obviously that has not happened.

On Monday night I was at the Odeon in Leicester Square receiving an award from Prince Harry for ‘speaking out’. I can speak out all day about the importance of speaking out and asking for help, but when it comes to myself I seem to be pretty rubbish! I will talk about my amazing night in a different blog as that is for happier times.

Back to the here and now (Sunday 7.14pm). It has been a difficult few days. I have shut off from lots of things and I have not wanted to do anything, so I haven’t. I suppose I am still trying to process what has happened. I am grateful for Olly as yesterday and today we have been on a few nice walks. Friends who know have messaged to check up on me and I met ‘A’ at Costa. Tomorrow is a new week. I have things planned. On Wednesday I turn 43 (gulp). Thursday is a day of appointments and of course I am hoping to get to the gym; something which I have not felt like doing over the last couple of days. I will be fine, I know I will 🙂 x

Friday 10th November 2017 (11.29am)

I wanted to write last night but by the time I came around to it I could not be bothered. Yesterday was the first time I had been to see my GP in about 4 weeks. I was supposed to see her 2 weeks ago but never bothered. I thought that I was ticking along, and because I was waiting for my Consultant Psychiatrist report I decided to wait so we could discuss it. Report has not yet come through so I thought I had better touch base.

I explained that my headaches were better and there was more clarity to my thinking now that I was no longer taking the medication. My mood is still up and down, but I do not think I mentioned this. I said about my plantar fascia problem and I now have a referral to podiatry. I still have another 2 weeks left on my sick note and I have to return to see her then.

My mood was not great yesterday and I did not want to speak to or see anyone. I avoided text messages from friends and meeting up after CBT. I just did not feel sociable to talk. I said this to the counsellor when I got to CBT but as usual I never shut up. The therapy has given me new ways of thinking about ‘change’ which I am trying my best to do and to maintain. I have my 4th session next week.

Yesterday morning I went for a run. I knew that I should not have gone but at that moment I did not care what happened to my foot. I tried to ‘CBT’ myself but that did not work. I was going but I was willing to compromise on distance and speed. I ran just under 4 miles. Foot was ok running but last night it was extremely painful and every time my foot hit the floor I knew about it. I did not regret going though. I am currently sat at David Lloyd having just done my 3rd 1 mile swim of the week. I brought my PE kit to go on the Wattbike afterwards (even though Physio has now told me not to). I was adamant that I was going to go but didn’t, for no other reason than I could not be bothered.

I had a good day Wednesday afternoon. I met up with Simon who is known on social media as the Welsh triathlete and he interviewed me for his You Tube channel. We talked about Mind over Marathon, my plans for Ironman and mental health. As always talking helps and I am looking forward to seeing the finished product.

 

Sunday 5th November 2017 (4.36pm)

** Picture taken at ‘passing out’ **

15 year workaversary

5/10 – I have plodded along this week. I have had 3 really good swim sessions, totalling 6200m. I am frustrated about not being able to bike or run. I saw the Physio yesterday and I am allowed to do 2 x 30 mins Wattbike sessions this week.

Yesterday it was 15 years since I walked through the gates of South Wales Police HQ. It only feels like yesterday, yet in other ways, there has been so much that I have seen, done and dealt with during this time. It has been an amazing 15 years with fond memories and incredible friendships created. I sit here writing this as a Detective Sergeant (having previously had a temporary promotion to Inspector). I am proud to carry the badge but question where my future now lies and if it is there doing another 15 years (plus). I do not know. Things have changed so much over the years, whilst some for the better, some I question. With numbers and resources at an all time low, I take my hat off to colleagues serving their communities under significant pressure.

For me, that pressure, along with other factors became too much. The desire to achieve the next rank and to be the best I could finally took its toll. I have no regrets about anything over the last 15 years but I now wait and see what decisions will be made (jointly) with my organisation.

As I look back on that first day, I remember nervously awaiting the welcome talk from the Chief Constable. It went along the lines of ‘If you do not want to be here, then get a job in Tesco across the road’ …. You can imagine the faces of us shiny new recruits. It must have had some impact on me though as I still remember the words to this day.

I will not go too much into joining and police stories as this will form part of the book which I have planned. I cannot give it all away in my blog now can I 🙂

Back to present day, and mentally I am doing ok. There have been thoughts of self harm but that is just in relation to the frustrations that I have with my foot. I have again thought about Flint House but I feel a consistency with my routine at the moment which I do not want to unsettle.

 

Tuesday 31st October 2017 (7.45pm)

Not being able to run or cycle is messing up my head

Not much has really happened since I last wrote. Not being able to run or cycle is messing with my head. It is so frustrating. On Sunday, I nearly gave in and went for a run (self destruct mode) but for the first time ever, sense got the better of me. I do not want to wreck my Ironman chances now. I know I want to destruct but I could seriously live to regret my decision. I am trying to convince myself here. I have been enjoying my swimming and core work so at least that will keep me busy.

Tuesday 24th October 2017 (5.56pm)

Aaaarrrghhhh – Plantar fasciitis

I have not had a bad few days. I am feeling better in terms of headaches and tiredness. I feel I have more energy and motivation and I no longer feel drugged or like a zombie. I have renewed energy for training and rather than just doing it, I am actually enjoying it again.

Whilst all this is positive, at times I have felt destructive. I have had a painful right foot for a few weeks. I ran Cardiff half marathon with it and it has just got worse. I know I  should not have been running on it but didn’t really care. Today I went to see a Physiotherapist and I have been diagnosed with a plantar fascia problem. This is potentially quite serious and if I do not do what I am told  then I could wreck my chances for next year’s London marathon and Ironman. I have to listen to what I am told which means no running or cycling for now but going back into my core strength programme and swimming. How will this affect me mentally? It is going to be difficult.

The Physio advised that I attend Flint House (the police rehab centre) but I do not think I want to. I have not gone for my mental health because I do not want to be around police officers or people! Apparently I need shock wave therapy which they can provide; otherwise it can cost about £100 per session (I need 3) which I cannot afford. More decisions now to be made, as without a fully functioning foot I cannot run and this screws up my brain.

Monday 16th October (8.49pm)

Consultant Psychiatrist appointment

Last Thursday was one of the toughest days that I have had in a while. I woke up with the biggest headache and my thoughts of going training before seeing the Consultant Psychiatrist did not happen. My appointment was 1pm-3pm. For the time being I will not be returning to work in any role and I need urgent treatment. I will talk diagnosis in a later blog.

My head is all over the place following this appointment and I have a lot to think about with regards to my future and where I go from here. The problem is, my brain is too shot to think or formulate any ideas or plans as I simply do not know what will happen and it is no good second guessing.

After this appointment I then had my routine GP appointment. By the time I got there my head was so bad I found it difficult with what to say. I did not have the words in me. I was all talked out. I managed to explain what had been discussed with the Psychiatrist and told her about my constant headaches. I have been given a sick note for another 6 weeks. My blood tests all came back normal. The Dr did mention about having a head scan but we both agreed that it is not necessary at this stage and headaches are probably attributed to stress and depression. I told her about my medication and the fact that I stopped. I did not get the telling off I was expecting (phew). I discussed medication with the Psychiatrist earlier so something may be put in to place soon.

This morning I also chased up my CMHT outcome letter again. It looks as if I am again being discharged from their services and referred to 1-to-1 session with MIND. I will await my letter for more detail.

It is ironic how one Psychiatrist gives a diagnosis which needs urgent treatment and intervention, whilst the CMHT have discharged me with a referral to another counselling type service (which no doubt I could be waiting months for). I have no idea where my head is.

Last night I was that wired I took a Zopiclone (I had 1 left). I mentioned this to the Dr and again we agreed not to prescribe any more. I took the sleeping pill as my head was very busy and I did not have Olly with me for comfort or safety. I could have easily got in the car and driven somewhere but I did not. I was so glad to get Olly back on Friday.

It is hard to put a score on my mood over the last few days. Thursday was about a 1/10 but now I am probably about a 3/10. I have had a headache most of the day.