This week has been my first real test of 2023.
The weather has really not been on my side and has led to a slight falter in my anorexia recovery voyage.
The snow came on Tuesday, and I haven't been able to run since. Usually, if I'm unable to run, I'll resort to plan B: walking. Alas, this activity was also made incredibly difficult by the conditions.
Josh and I have ventured out for the past few evenings but have had to turn back after 2k or so as it's just too slippy out there. The last thing I need right now is a broken spine 🙄
On Tuesday, we bought a tub of those new multigrain BBQ Sauce Pringles to put away for the weekend, and attempting to navigate the black ice while trying not to go arse over tit and flatten the crisps was like some sort of twisted Squid Games style challenge.
My usual weekly running routine consists of three 10ks, and then a half marathon at the weekend. So far this week, I've only been able to get one 10k in, and that was on Monday. Looking at the ice outside, I'm doubtful that I'll even be able to do my half marathon.
I keep bouncing between flashes of panic and moments of reasoning.
'Will I lose form if I don't run for a week?' I frantically asked Google. 'WILL I PUT ON 85 STONE IN A WEEK IF I DON'T RUN?????'
No and no, were the answer I got, basically. 🤣
In fact, it's actually recommended that runners do indulge in a week off every now and again, particularly if they have noticed any recent pains.
Just last week, although running the best I have for a long time, I noticed a slight discomfort in my right thigh muscles. I experienced something similar last January after a slip during a long run in the rain, but that pain was luckily fleeting.
I ran through the thigh pain, even completing my usual half marathon the weekend just gone. I immersed my legs in Epsom Salts (cheeky little grains of miracle! 😍) and upped my pre-run stretching, but my thigh still throbbed with this dull ache every time I took a step. It wasn't bad enough to stop me in my tracks, but I was aware of its presence.
I'm currently on day three of no running and minimal walking, and I do have to admit that my thigh pain has completely disappeared so maybe everything happens for a reason...
Since obtaining that killer knee injury back in October 2021, I am a lot more conscious of the risk of injury. In the past, nothing would have stopped me mid-run. in fact, nothing would have stopped me running at all. Now, however, I won't hesitate to pull over or lessen the pace if something feels a little off.
For example, in my last blog, I wrote about the fact that my knees were feeling a bit stiff after an intnense month of training. Rather than keep pushing myself and risking a long-term damage, I gave myself 3/4 days off running entirely... and then went out and ran a PB!
Trust me when I say that I NEVER, EVER want to be in the position I was in at the time of my knee injury, whereby I was strictly signed off running for weeks.
Without sounding dramatic... those were some of the darkest weeks in recent years. I blogged at the time that, without running, I honestly felt as though I'd lost my identity.
It was a phase I'd definitely not like to repeat, and I'll do anything in my power to avoid it!
I managed to stay relatively calm during my short rest after Christmas, but this week, I've literally been tearing my hair out.
I think the main difference is that last month, I chose to have that break. I was in control. This time, I've been forced to stop by something totally outside of my control.
Control... Anorexia's best friend. That's all it boils down to, in the end. It's tough sometimes, and I won't pretend that it's not.
Feeling out of control/ having my routine disrupted is the biggest trigger for me, and something I find very hard to cope with.
Last night was probably the worst night of all.
A lack of running leaves me so very irritable.
I know a lot of people who contend with various mental struggles will back me up on this: on the bad days, it really does feel like the world is ending.
I'm well aware how stupid and selfish that sounds. I mean, being unable to run for 3 days is hardly on the same scale as the Crimean War, is it?!
But I'll be the first to admit that mental illness can consume you, stunt your logic and yeah, even make you come across pretty selfish and irrational at times.
Last night, everything just started crashing down around me. Life suddenly felt like a battle that I didn't want to face.
Every little ounce of worry and negativity rapidly came to the surface...
Oh my God, I need to sort my driving lessons out, like, now!!
Shitttttt, I've got that magazine article to do before the weekend deadline!!
I hate how anorexia makes me look sometimes. I want to look like me again.
There's so much I want to achieve before I'm 30, but it's now 9 months away and not looking likely.
MY STANDARDS OF SELF-PERFECTION ARE SLIPPING!!!!
I'm not pushing myself enough. I'm not good enough.
I'm losing control.
Must. Do. Better.
Must. Try. Harder.
All I wanted to do was go for a run and clear my head. It's my quick-fix cure, but it was unobtainable. This freaked me out even more.
Running is how I divert the control my anorexia needs to something positive. Without this release, all of that fear and anxiety just rocketed, with nowhere to go.
Running isn't simply a hobby to me, it's a lifeline, and I need it.
I shamefully text my friend to cancel our weekend plans. My strict routine has been intercepted, so how can I possibly enjoy myself? How can I even think about eating out when I've done nothing all week?! I haven't earned the right. That's what anorexia tells me. Deep down, I know this isn't true... So why have I allowed myself to be hypnotised yet again?
At times like these, I really, really hate anorexia. I hate it for all of the moments it steals from me. Literally millions over the past nine years.
I feel both deflated and defeated. I've had a really positive few weeks, which is what hurts the most. Sadly, it always seems to be way. You take one step forwards, and then you're forced to take two back. But I'll get there.
I'm looking forward to Monday - a new week - when I'm hopeful that 'normality' will resume and I'll be able to get back to my usual routine.
It would be nice to one day not be bound by my need for strict routine and self-discipline...
The result of my latest wobble? A pink, sparkly exercise hula-hoop 🤣 I did try to convince Josh to order a treadmill on Prime, but he point blank refused.
"Absolutely not. I'm not having you on that 24/7. It's bad enough with the hamster and her wheel. And anyway, where would we put it?!"
So we compromised and I got a hula-hoop...
As I always say, I don't post blogs about the dark times to gain sympathy. I post because I know how important it is to talk about every aspect of mental illness: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Because this is real life, and this is how it is, for a lot of people. And that's just fact. It's not pleasant, but it's true, and we have two choices: we can either simply ignore it and refuse to acknowledge it while it grows in momentum, or we can learn from it. We can better equip ourselves in our quest to fight it, in all of its forms.
And again, if just one person reads my blog and relates to it, or gains knowledge and insight needed to help a loved one, then my words will not be in vain.
The bad days don't last. They come and they go. I'm so lucky that I am surrounded by things so much stronger than the Voice of anorexia. My family, friends and work colleagues. Harry Potter nights under the duvet with a Pick & Mix while the rain pours outside. Writing. Running. Music. Reading. It's so, so important to cling on to these little staples of joy and life.
Hang on in there; there's a rainbow* just around the corner - there always is. 🌈
(* or some actual bloody rain to melt this hideous ice so I can go running would be more preferable right now!!)
Cara Jasmine Bradley