Sunday, 12 May 2019

Not Immortal

I should have been doing the Immortal Half at Stourhead today. I went along yesterday and registered so I was all set to race.
My training has been going really well so I know I could have finished the race.
Nerves weren't too bad yesterday. Until we went to bed.
I woke up around 1 o'clock this morning and suddenly everything exploded.

The doubts about why I'm doing all this training and the races started. When Rhys died I set out to do some races and failing to do those ended up with me on anti-depressants and having bereavement counselling.

I've been doing triathlons for a number of years now and long before Rhys died my aim was to do an Ironman distance triathlon. It's still something I want to do but because I tied it all up with a promise to Rhys last year I still have part of that as the reason for doing it. I need to break that link or else I'm going to really struggle with doing what I've set out to do with my coaches.

On top of that I've been struggling with enthusiasm for things and feeling motivated. My training and rehearsing with the Burleskin girls have been things that have kept me going but other things just don't have the say interest for me. Even work is a struggle.

I enjoy doing things at work that aren't part of my "day job". I'm doing something really meaningful helping people and making a difference to their working lives. It's the "day job" that I'm struggling with. The work has gotten repetitive and isn't challenging.

Last week I had to go to the hospital with Tracey and in the last 10 minutes before I finished and left to pick her up I was trying to solve some problems and I found myself really engaged. Brain cells firing, knowing exactly what I needed to do. Leaving work I was actually frustrated that I didn't have longer to finish what I was doing. Just that brief amount of pressure made so much difference to me.

At 2:30 this morning, Tracey and I were sat in the living room drinking mugs of tea. I'd switched the alarm on my bedside clock off and when Tracey asked me why I said about not racing today. When I came downstairs for some tea she decided to come down as well because she wasn't sleeping at that time either.

For the first time in ages, as we sat there, I opened up and told her that I couldn't race today because I wasn't ready for it and that I was afraid that if I did race I would put myself back to where I was last summer and that is a dangerous place I don't want to revisit. I told Tracey that I've been struggling for weeks now.

Tracey suggested that part of the reason I'm struggling is because I've lost both my parents and haven't had the time to grieve properly for them. She said the way that she's dealt with losing her Dad, Aunts and Uncle is to tell herself that they are looking after Rhys. I do that too. I tell myself that Mum and Dad are looking after Rhys.

What I didn't tell Tracey is that I blame myself for not going up to Wales on the Friday before Dad died when he rang me to tell me he'd fallen again. Following the hospital's advice and agreeing with Dad that he should ring his GP and get them to come out and check him over was the worst thing I even did. I should have gone up to Wales that day. If I had I would have seen how he was and got him into hospital which might have made a difference.

The same with Mum. We saw her the day before she passed away but I decided to come home rather than staying there another day. If we'd stayed that extra night we'd have been there when Dad woke up to find that she'd passed away in the night.

The same with Rhys. I came home the morning that he passed away. By the time I got back to the hospital he'd died.

The times that all of them needed me to be there for them and I failed them. I let them down.

No matter how hard I try I'm never going to be able to get over the guilt about how I failed them. I'll never really be able to forgive myself. The only people that can forgive me are dead and there's no way that I can have their forgiveness in this lifetime.

I've made a lot of progress since last summer but it's a fragile state of affairs. I still find myself thinking of killing myself. Not in an active way but it wouldn't take much to push me over that edge. For so long I was really strong, I was there for Tracey and Rhys, I was the rock in the Cancer storm that battered our lives. I was a source of strength that Tracey and Rhys could rely on.

Now I don't feel very strong. I can barely hold on at times, just about have enough strength to get me through the day without screaming my head off.

For such a long time I knew who I was, knew what my purpose was in life was and now I don't. Now I'm having to figure out who I am and what my purpose is. It's a struggle. My mental health is a fragile thing.

I can hear Steph, my counsellor, and the questions she'd be asking me, the things that she'd be saying.

In the night I was feeling nervous, about the race, about the distances, about the swim. Those nerves magnified and kept me awake. I also found myself experiencing the feeling that I'm letting Rhys down again as well as my coaches who've worked hard with me to get me where I am. I found myself wondering why I put myself through this. The early mornings, the long days racing.

I've been trying to do things on my own. Trying to keep going and putting a happy face on for everyone when happy is the last thing I've been feeling. Tired, sad, depressed, bored, frustrated. I've definitely been feeling all that. Happy is something I've felt only occasionally, and then it's when I've done something that gives me a sense of achievement, and for me that takes a lot to do right now.

As much as I feel I've let my coaches and myself down by not racing, I needed to reach this crisis point, and it is a crisis point. I could easily have raced. Whether I finished or not doesn't matter. I'd have physically tired myself out by racing and I'd have struggled even more than I have been, but more importantly, I wouldn't have found myself facing up to how I'm feeling right now. I'd have carried on in the same way I have been until I reached the point that something broke, and broke big time. Now I have the chance to put things right before they break.

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