“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”
Unknown (but definitely not Buddha)
Particularly if you are me (at least the first part)…
In addition to the idealistic reasons for writing this blog, one of the main drivers has been to stop me climbing the walls while recovering from the latest in a long line of injuries. Despite Mont Blanc Marathon only being 10 weeks away, I have managed no more than a dozen runs since October 2014, after giving myself capsulitis (basically a frozen hip), in a vain attempt to build a rudimentary level of upper body strength after slipping mid-way through a single-leg press up. The picture above is an x-ray of the cortisone injection that I had in my hip joint, on my birthday, earlier this year. It was by far the most pain I’ve ever experienced, at least physically. Hardened athlete that I am, I cried a little, almost passed out twice, and had to hold the nurse’s hand for most of the procedure.
In fact, this picture, or at least my attitude to it, was what finally made me start the blog. I happily posted the x-ray, of an intimate part of my body, during an incredibly painful procedure, on social media without a second thought. However, at that stage I had not mentioned anything about my breakdown or struggles with depression. I felt compelled to share a great article by Yvonne Roberts about male suicide (http://gu.com/p/45t9n/sbl), particularly as it was written almost exactly a year after my breakdown, but it took me three hours to pluck up the courage to post it. As a strong believer that mental illness shouldn’t be talked about any differently to physical illness, I realised that not re-posting or telling people about my experiences would be hypocritical in the extreme.
Unfortunately, capsulitis was not my first injury, and definitely will not be my last. Except for an unavoidable IT band inflammation, and plantar fascitis, most of my injuries have been self-inflicted. I have managed to do the following while exercising:
- fracture my ankle and go face-first into a pavement while working out how to get past a slow moving bus (the bus was full so the embarrassment was as painful as the fall)
- sprain my other ankle in confusion at seeing a parakeet on Peckham Rye Common
- bruise my foot by kicking an umbrella on the sidelines after missing an open goal
- hit myself in the face with a kettlebell
- cut the bottom of both of my feet in an attempt to avoid a dropped milk bottle
- trip over after being surprised by a family of racoons in Central Park
- run crotch-first into a bollard after shouting at some teenagers for purposefully getting in my way
Like many amateur running obsessives, I am a terrible patient. I am grumpy, irritable and as soon as I am able to get back to it, I ignore doctor’s/physio’s/partner’s advice and try to pick up where I left off with my training. One of the few advantages having an illness like bipolar disorder is that I can blame faults like this on the illness, rather than my own natural impatience and lack of discipline.
PS – I was tempted to write this week about a certain former Apprentice contestant and Hitler impersonator’s tweets about depression but: (1) I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of mentioning her name, or by repeating her abhorrent and potentially dangerous opinions; and (2) Jenny Bede has already published a much better response than I ever could in her brilliant Marathon Woman blog in the equally brilliant Standard Issue magazine: http://standardissuemagazine.com/health/marathon-woman-weeks-11-12/.
This post is brought to you with massive thanks to Mike Davis and the rest of the team at HFS Clinics (http://www.hfs-clinics.co.uk/), for getting me back to running as quickly as possible on a regular basis.