What We Leave Behind

It’s the first properly cold day of the season, and I am reminded of a moment that had, for many years, been previously lost in a haze of a past that was often uncertain. There’s been a lot of that of late, recollections of things that had been forgotten, buried under what can now be identified as historical trauma. Sometimes it’s TV shows or snatches of a song that was lost under stress. Very rarely is it stuff about being a kid.

Maybe that’s why I end up playing out so much of my adult life with wonder.

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Tomorrow I’m going to go try and have a chat with the management of my health club about the mental health consequences of their policies, amongst other things. The club, as a rule, is only really interested in what it’s done well, or what it needs to fix on a cosmetic level. Actual discussions over ethics and consequence don’t really seem to be registered or indeed acted upon. I do not hold out much hope.

However, as has been previously stated, I have to try. I was not given a choice, mental health issues are what they are. There is a choice therefore: accept your shortcomings, work on your strengths, and for all the time in between find a way to use rational debate and common sense to explain yourself. Tomorrow, we’ll see if that path will provide salvation or not.

It is only recently that having control of my existence has become really important. I am a realist, when all is said and done: sometimes, stuff is just best left alone. However, as is becoming apparent as more of the past emerges to challenge me over my actions and motives, not everything benefits from remaining where it is. A lot of that stuff should be thrown away, or removed with a sense of purpose.

As the world alters, inevitably you do with it. It’s apparent those people for whom this is not an option, or who believe that there is nothing to be gained from even trying. They are, inevitably, perfect as they are. I’m really, REALLY glad that will never be an issue I’ll need to struggle with. As a perennial work in progress, may there never be a day when it’s okay to let arrogance supercede a sense of proportion.

There is just so much that needs work and improvement.

Don’t Stand So Close to Me

Yesterday I took my first steps to becoming a Time to Change Champion. It is a process that will be better detailed on the work blog, because poetry needs to be part of the process too. For now, an important epiphany has resulted from a couple of hours in a lovely church annex: difference is perfectly fine. It isn’t like this wasn’t a realisation before, either: it is okay to admit to strangers you are flawed.

By doing so, you become further empowered to do good.

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What has become increasingly apparent is the level of awareness other people have of such personal shortcomings. Ignorance is the biggest single obstacle to overcome when trying to teach anybody anything: wilful ignorance has almost become a fashion accessory for some individuals in the modern world. As long as I am not inconvenienced, what harm does it cause not to be bothered?

Those people will never be reached on massive platforms like this. They continue to be joyfully obsessed with everything that matters to them. Those are not the people who will ever be reached unless you can get them on their own, free of distraction or influence. The best work, undoubtedly, is when unused nerves can be struck, or an unexpected response can be stimulated.

This is where I feel I have a real chance of affecting some change.

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As I said, go follow the work blog if you really care about such things. It will undoubtedly be mentioned in passing here, especially as I start training in January. You can also expect a few changes in other places too, because I am well aware that to make these new directions effective, there has to be places to relax and enjoy myself.  Plans are already in place for some new directions…

This is exactly the right thing to be doing.

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Yesterday was Regional Shopping Hub (with the realisation that there were a number of retail units, even in this mecca, that were covered with hoarding, therefore not in use.) One new unit was opening November 1st, whilst another was about to close. One of my favourite retailers has downsized. The ridiculousness of Brexit, plus changing patterns in buying, have altered the shopping landscape for good. Welcome to the mini-brand store.

An election, let’s be honest, could not have come soon enough.

It’s Halloween, and it seems only appropriate that I start the Journey to Redemption today. I feel this is an especially grandiose title for having to pull my fucking finger out, eating an actual healthy diet and sticking to it… because once I hit the actual levels of red blood cells and cholesterol that should exist as a healthy adult there will be absolutely no point in going back to old habits.

Journey to Normality doesn’t have quite the same ring of excitement and danger, now does it? Maybe that’s why so many of us find comfort in food and indulgence, because the world is either mind-numbingly mundane or ridiculously stressful in equal measure. There’s a larger, more endemic issue at play, of course. Finding happiness used to be the label so much got sold to us on… attaining peace matters more. 

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Many, MANY things will change, starting today.

Let’s go.

Waiting for the Man

Normally I’d write this blog early, preferably before starting work on the week’s project. Except, today that direction took precedent, then there had to be some PT (more of which at the weekend) and I’ve only just recovered sufficiently from that to be here and ready to write. Needless to say, it’s been a BIG DAY.

It’s my birthday this week: no, there is no celebration scheduled. I’ll go to the Gym in the morning, probably work on some writing stuff, maybe treat myself to a birthday cupcake. There needs to be pictures taken, and some made into blog headers. I can afford to go buy a couple of pairs of new glasses from the discount store down the road. All of this is a world and a bit away from how I felt this time last year.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt this positive ever for a birthday week before. Normally summat is bothering me, or there’s a moment of panic the World is getting away from me. This year, none of that: I am truly in the moment. Problems are dealt with as they happen. There’s less worry over everything than has ever existed up until this point. Truly, this is the land of new and unexplored possibilities.

It’s a fucking great time to be alive.

When I grow up I wanna be able to dance like this. I’d love to be a freerunner. All these things that (quite obviously) will not come to pass can at least be entertained in my head, whereas before there’d be just anger that time wasn’t being properly used and that everything was awful, and it was all my fault. I don’t want to go back to that past, the places that existed before. I know where the true joy lies for me now.

It’s great not to be on places like Facebook any more. The people who used to be part of my life are gone, truly history there is absolutely no desire to ever revisit. I’m not interested in my ancestors, or school reunions, or having those moments when others go ‘oh yeah, do you remember that time when…’ because I don’t. My life now is the last decade from time to time, yesterday maybe but pretty much now.

I am here, and ready to roll.

I’ve learnt the lesson. I’m never going back.

Big Time

This week’s been fucking mental, it has.

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The 5 of 7 days with exercise is working out quite nicely: ideally I should break on Tuesday instead of Sunday, which is easily fixed going forward. Thus far, Fitbit has recorded 369 active minutes and we’re only at Saturday lunchtime. Steady momentum, meet consistency. I’ve today also exceeded the MEP totals of September and August: not combined, obviously, but this will put me back on track for real progress.

With 12 days left this month, I’ll end up doing summat for at least nine of them.

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There are a number of key moments to cover: the most important came on Thursday night. That block of eight minutes may not look like much to you, but it represents an important realisation that if I wanna push, it’s there. The key is wanting to do so: eating better is definitely helping. Rest is absolutely vital, and making Tuesday one of my two days will make a huge difference. The biggest shift undoubtedly is psychological.

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The other key change this week is strength, and actual muscle mass. One of my favourite coats is now simply too small to go around my shoulders: arms are being forces to sit back from my chest thanks to improvement in arm definition and bulk. I could do with a couple of leg days as a result, if I’m honest, and Sunday will probably be the right time to go flex the running muscles a bit. I’m back to leg pressing 100kg, which is great.

Lungs continue to be the major sticking point in stamina, and cardio will always be my Kryptonite. It’s not a problem: sometimes, accepting shortcomings is the means by which you are able to become better regardless. I’m not winning any sprints any time soon, but response times are undoubtedly improving. The equation is all wrapped around active recovery, and that’s an ability that is is undoubtedly getting better over time.

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It’s important to note that Thursday and Monday’s sessions (above) were both at 75% effort but the output was a fair bit different. Undoubtedly fatigue will have had a hand in events. Again, rest and common sense need to be considered… but most vitally, I need to think less. This is becoming genuinely enjoyable, not just in single session, but every fucking time I walk in the Gym.

When did I alter? That’s easy: in a hospital bed. Alone, lonely and desperately tired, I found myself being grateful for the fitness already built or else I would never have been let go in three days. There was a quiet and determined promise made, early on a Saturday morning, as a woman lay opposite me, crying her eyes out. As long as I am capable, there will always be exercise, because this not only keeps me sane but helps me cope with the World right now. Without it, I would be broken.

It’s great to be strong. I love being strong. Long may strong continue.

Believe

There was a point, in last night’s Blaze class, when I lost confidence in myself. If you’ve been following this fitness journey, you’ll know that particular class uses heart rate to encourage greater effort, via a special wearable piece of tech. It then broadcasts said effort onto a screen where you’re placed beside everybody else in the class. All the instructors will also tell you it’s not a competition with anybody else except yourself.

The truth however is anything but.

Last night, at a crucial moment when I was flat out on a treadmill, looking up to the screen above showed everybody else in the max (red) heart-rate zone, with me in green. The mental v physical disconnect hit like a punch. By the end of the class, I was in floods of tears: fortunately for me, there were people there who not only helped me, but reminded that everything is relative, including the level of effort.

I underestimated the amount of work I’ve done this week. If I add up all the active minutes in the last four days (using Fitbit as my guide) it isn’t 225 minutes, but 353, and this does not include Tuesday where the watch was very intentionally not recording. So yeah, maybe I should factor that in when it gets to Thursday. Also, I did a Synergy Gym class before the Blaze one, and probably didn’t manage my energy output that well whilst doing so.

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Most sessions, my brain’s awake enough to see past the lie of ‘if you’re not in the red zone you can be working harder’ but a month’s worth of mental stress could not be dodged last night. The visual was, quite frankly, just too powerful to ignore. It’s the underlying problem with these classes that’s always existed, but nobody ever talks about. If you allow the red to fool you, everything can and does fall apart.

This morning, truth is far easier to rationalise.

There is nothing wrong with competition: it’s a healthy, normal part of sport. The concept’s there to give you an idea of how other people’s fitness compares with yours, but it is up to you to factor in the variables: weight, age, ability can’t be quantified as colour on a screen. Except I’ve seen what people do when they get tired in this class: they forget which lane they’re in. They forget what exercise they’re doing and just run on autopilot.

The numbers and colours affect mental ability in many different ways. Today, I used that as a basis for a poem. Stepping back, looking objectively at what happened, it is clear that my brain fell for the lie: this isn’t about effort expended, but a longer term view of the journey this is a step within. I wish my club did more work on mental health within it’s auspice and didn’t just assume members have that covered.

I suspect they’d not consider it important because it won’t turn a profit.

P.S.: This is also the problem.

History Repeating

I REALLY need to make some new headers for the blog. I stuck a PostIt on the wall that says ‘Archive Late June’ and that would be now, so it’s probably the moment to schedule it… except yesterday’s penultimate counselling’s pulled the supporting brick out of a wall that was fairly precarious to begin with, which subsequently completely collapsed. Peering into the darkness, I discover an awful lot that was hidden within…

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The importance of visual memory for me is beyond significant, something that only came to light in my twenties. Going back to childhood memories for the first time, many of them deeply upsetting, has released a phenomenal amount of visual detritus that was previously forgotten. A lot of this is surfacing subconsciously too, which can be a bit odd to address, but effort is well worth the rewards.

It’s all a bit stressful too, if truth be told, but only until the new stuff’s addressed and then put away. Of course, it’s old stuff in the main, but occasionally that has consequences beyond the moment from which it has emerged. Yesterday’s moment continues to resonate from a particular point it was dislodged from, and once that’s settled down, everything’s gonna be better than fine.

So much now makes sense that before was just silence.

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The impetus now is to keep on pulling out bricks in walls, and going into places that previously were boarded up or left well alone inside my head to clear out what is no longer required. The stuff that remains, undoubtedly, is going to become fuel for some new and very interesting works of fiction and quite possibly beyond. I have a phenomenal amount now that can be said, what needs to be further refined are my delivery systems.

Finding the words to describe how I feel is remarkably difficult. I can talk forever, dispassionately about the details of so many things, but actually describing the minutiae of it all was pretty much impossible until about a year ago. Going into real depth no longer frightens me either, whereas before I’d get anxious with the process. It makes me tempted to go back and read a lot of old work with fresh eyes, especially when related to mental health.

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All told, this is looking like a really good [lace to be heading at the end of my counselling adventure…