Since the big ride I have not been on my bike much. I guess that is natural. For months I have had to ride the bike. In order to know that I would complete the Coast 2 Coast in 1 Day challenge I needed to get out on it many times a week.
Now I don’t have to ride. I certainly still will because I love it. But the bike and I have had a little time apart.
That’s mainly because I have been running instead. I have always loved to run. It is generally my first choice of sport. A dodgy knee restricts the distances I can run but it doesn’t stop me getting out there entirely. I don’t dream of marathons but the idea of a long distance off road greatly appeals. I once walked 47 miles in one day to complete the Pendle Way in a Day Challenge with my sister – it should have been 45 miles but we got a little lost in a dark field at the end. By the end my feet and knees (and my sisters hips) were ruined. And yet we both talk fondly of that day. Happy memories and a real sense if achievement prevail over the recollections of throwing painkillers down out throats. I will never forget one of the guys we had formed a group with turning to me near the end (when all my blisters had burst and my knee had seized completely) and saying “Dig deep gal”. I did and dream of doing so again but this time running instead of walking. Maybe one day.
In the meantime I run to escape my demons. They have chased me hard this week. They have chased me from my bed each day, chased me in my car and at work, chased me through the evening and then to my bed. And when I run I finally feel I am beating them. They can’t catch me if I keep my body strong.
I thought I had got those demons under control. I had reasoned with some and banished others. Some I had just learned to live alongside.
But the inquest into Bob’s death did send them back out of control. I felt them stirring before the inquest and once it had happened they spent 24 hours gathering their strength before emerging to play.
I shan’t go into the fine details of the inquest. I was not the only one there and I would hate to upset others by being insensitive. On the day that Bob died I gave a lengthy statement to the police. My story of how life had been in the lead up to the final event. This was hard at the time. Sitting in a sense of complete shock whilst calmly trying to relay a personal story to a stranger. Then having them write your words up into ‘police speak’, a formula which suits their purposes better. You cannot really dispute that those are your words but something is changed in the writing up, something is lost. I knew it at the time as the policeman read the words back to me. But I was too exhausted, too numb to do anything about it. And so at the inquest my words were read back to me and to all others present. Other peoples statements were read too. Parts of the postmortem, doctors statements and the statement of the policewoman in charge of the case. As I mentioned, what was said is personal to those present. But it was also distressing for all. We all heard things we didn’t already know and had to listen to a life and death summed up in two draining hours. There was great comfort in the kindness and compassion of the coroner and the court assistant though. What an amazing difference the care of others can make on a day like that.
Some people may wonder why I write about this at all. Why don’t I just keep it to myself? Why do I share with strangers? Well partly because I have shared every step of the journey so far and partly because it may help others to understand if they have to go through it one day. It helps me to get things down in print because then I can get on with living and loving life and banishing those demons back where they belong.
The verdict was, as we knew it would be, suicide. That frightening word. A word we hope we never have to deal with. A word which many avoid or speak around. And yet suicide is more common than I had ever realised before. So why don’t we speak about it more? Why aren’t we talking more about how to prevent it? It is terrible to think of someone we love reaching the point where they can no longer see light in their life. A point where they slip beyond our reach. But at least we could do more to stop that point being reached and to help people like me to spot the signs.
When someone has cancer we speak about fighting it but we do not define that person by the illness they have. We should treat depression in the same way. Depression is an illness we ought to try to cure. Ignoring it will not make it go away.
If you take one thing away from this blog post please let it be this; it’s ok not to be ok. I tweeted this earlier in the week and truly believe it. The only thing that’s not ok is silence. Please talk about depression, talk about suicide. Ever read Harry Potter?! Harry was the strongest character in the books and one of the only ones willing to say the name of his fears out loud.
Perhaps this way we can stop more demons being created.
I have entered my first Triathlon for the 7th September. It is only a sprint triathlon but I hope it will lead to full length next year. The demons are helping me train. I am turning their negative energy into positive and forcing them to help me achieve something. But on the days when I cannot turn them to my advantage I am happy to say; “I’m not ok, but I know I will be again soon”.
Be More Relentless
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