A year ago today I collapsed on the pavement.
I was on my usual 5km run when out of nowhere I fainted. Paramedics called; ambulance to A&E; tests, scans and more tests. They couldn’t find anything wrong with me so I was stitched up and discharged. But the concussion lasted far longer than it should have done. And with that came the fear that I’d never be able to run again.
I never ran far or fast. I ran to release my anxieties and demons, and the risk of losing that was terrifying.
To begin with I couldn't sit upright for long. In time I could sit and stand but a walk of even 20 metres left me exhausted. Day by day I gradually improved and just over three long months after my collapse I went on my first - and very cautious - short run.
Coming back to running, when I felt that I had so nearly lost it, lit a fire in my belly. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs I’ve always dreamed of running a marathon. Now I was back on my feet, I simply had to achieve that ambition before the opportunity was taken away from me again. So on 1st January this year I signed up for my first marathon and started training.
Then covid hit. Another spanner in the works. Another potential road blockage. But I still had that fire in my belly and I wasn’t going to let the dream slip away. So, despite only completing half of my training plan I went out and ran a marathon on my own, two days before lockdown came into force. I did it.
Why am I telling you all this? Two things:
1) Never give up on your dreams. It’s a cliche, but I mean it. Life will throw curveballs at you and knock you off balance. That’s what happens. But if you really want to do something then, whenever you can, take baby steps towards whatever it is. Then one day you may find it’s in reach.
2) Be stubborn in pursuit of your dreams. When people comment that running a solo first marathon is impressive I reply that I’m stubborn. I had set my heart on doing this thing and nothing was going to stop me. I feel the same about my mental illness. It has tried to drag me down before, and nearly managed it, but I’ve put my foot down and I will keep fighting it. It will not win.
So dream, and be stubborn about it.