“Trails are like that: you’re floating along in a Shakespearean
Arden paradise and expect to see nymphs and fluteboys, then
suddenly you’re struggling in a hot broiling sun of
hell and dust and nettles and poison oak…just like life”
– Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
As you will have noticed, I’ve not posted for a while. Alright, you probably haven’t, I’m not getting delusions of grandeur, at least not regularly.
After the race I took a training break, so apart from a run in Seattle (I only managed the one – the beer is too good there), and blacking-out in Sydenham while trying to run off a virus, not much has happened in the last few weeks.
I did do a sub-19 minute 5km race at the start of July (The Great City Race, again), which I should’ve been happy with, but as I missed out on a PB by 8 seconds, despite starting near the front, I’m still a bit annoyed about it.
I also won an entry into the Snowdonia Trail Marathon, and race gear from Scott (massive thanks to Scott and Climbers Shop in Cumbria), but annoyingly I forgot that I’d entered and couldn’t make the race, so gave the place to James and shared the kit with him. I did keep the free shoes though, mainly because they were called “Trail Rocket”, and from what I’ve seen so far this is a fair description. I wasn’t that sorry to miss the race, particularly because of the torrential rain (see picture of James below) and because James, as a former local, got a far better time than I ever could, which I’m claiming as a result for team Up & Down Runner, and therefore me.
To be honest though, the main reason for not writing is that I’ve not been feeling great recently; a combination of inevitable post-race comedown, not looking after myself properly and, well…if I knew exactly why then I wouldn’t need the drugs.
Talking of drugs, I was corralled by Camilla into seeing the psychiatrist again, because of my volatile moods, extreme forgetfulness (see above) and because I’ve developed a side-effect (whether of the meds or old age) of falling asleep at the slightest provocation. Great on long haul flights, not so good in meetings, or while driving…
The outcome of my session was more medication on top of the two that I’m already taking, which I think now means I’m officially on a “cocktail” of drugs. On the other hand, maybe I already was, as, after all, a martini, screwdriver and snakebite only have two ingredients. Perhaps the latter is stretching the definition of “cocktail” too far – can’t see Bond ordering it shaken or stirred, unless he was in a student bar Bristol in 2000, and it was my round (unless he fancied a Southern Comfort and Lemonade instead).
Sorry, got side-tracked. Actually, the most important thing that came from my session with the doctor was that he has, CONFESSION ALERT, never definitely diagnosed me with bipolar disorder.
Although many of my symptoms support the diagnosis, and I am on medication used to treat bipolar, which seem to be working on the whole, I am not quite bipolar enough for a certain decision.
This is the story of my life – got the basics right, work hard and show a lot of promise, but don’t quite have the flair to get to the top. As I said in my first post, if I do indeed have bipolar disorder, I am the most boring sufferer in history, unless my “Maserati moment”, as Dr. Craig calls it, is still to come.
The other issue, which is more general, and far more interesting, is that in many cases a definitive identification of a mental illness is very difficult, or even impossible. There’s no test or scan that you can do for depression, so doctors may only have the testimony of others, or evidence of the most unreliable witness possible, the sufferer, on which to base the diagnosis. It also seems, at least to a psych-idiot like me, that very little is known about the workings of the brain compared to every other part of the body. A good example of this is that two out of the three drugs that I’ve been prescribed are predominantly used to treat other ailments (epilepsy and psychosis, respectively), and although there is apparently lots of evidence to prove that they ease bipolar symptoms, it’s not yet been fully established why this is so.
Maybe this is also why it can make mental illness difficult to understand; at times there can be no sign that anything’s wrong, and even when there is it can just seem like an over-the-top, but not completely unwarranted, reaction to an everyday situation.
Do I need a label? It would certainly makes things easier, and I could pretend that I was a misunderstood creative genius, but it seems, at least medically, that it really only makes a difference in the drugs prescribed, and I’m fine with trying anything that works.
So, there you go, “Up & Down Runner” may be a complete fraud; a cheap marketing gimmick. Please forgive me, but “Up & Down, But Not Consistent with a Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, But Then Again Maybe It Is, Runner”, would not be quite as catchy, or fit on a t-shirt.
Right, I’m off to buy a Maserati.
NB: I know that the photo at the top does not really relate to the post, it’s just the best photo of me that I have…