I'm after some recommendations for audio-books. I like audio-books which 'transport' me somewhere and allow me some true escapism (I tend to listen in bed). Dickensian London, a foreign paradise, descriptive atmospheric weather etc. I find dialogue less appealing when narrated, for what it's worth. Can be fiction or non-fiction.
My favourite of recent months has been The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan, if that helps.
As you'll likely be aware by now due to my incessant blogging and unashamed fundraising efforts, my mate Mat and I are running the Athens Marathon this Sunday for MIND, the Mental Health Charity. Thus far I've raised over £1300, in no small part thanks to so many of you TWTDers. So here is my huge THANK YOU. I will do my very best to make you all proud.
If anyone who hasn't donated is feeling generous, please chip in. Every single time my phone buzzes and the app tells me someone has donated their hard earned I get a sincere pang of heartfelt emotion which is actually quite difficult to describe. My blog (linked below) details some of my own struggles with mental health issues as well as why I chose to run to fund-raise. It's probably terribly written and occasionally self-indulgent but please, give it a read and a share, if you enjoy it.
I'll be writing a blog entry on Saturday from Athens, so look out for that (I can't believe I'll be in an European capital for over 24 hours without a beer to be honest).
Anyway, thanks again, and wish me luck (I'll fecking need it).
I’ve primarily been doing longer, slower runs the past couple of months. Perceived wisdom is that by doing so, you help to ready your muscles and joints for the frankly ludicrous challenge to come. I’m reliably informed that it also strengthens the heart and enhances the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to your muscles. Even more useful for a big lad, it is supposed to enhance your body’s ability to burn fat as a source of energy. The problem is, it ain’t easy running for ages, especially at a deliberately slow pace.
Boredom and to some extent loneliness (shout out to the film) are the biggest challenges. I’ve worn out albums, mixtapes, podcasts and audiobooks. There were occasions that just 4 or 5 miles into a run, I had to fight my own temptation to pack it in in favour of practically any other activity (TV, pub, reading, pub, sleep, cleaning, pub etc.). Mostly I have been overcoming these moments through willpower and a nagging, knowing fear that every failed practice run makes the task of finishing Athens in under 5 hours more difficult. There is some mind over matter ‘logic’ here. Legs burn, feet hurt, shins splint (perhaps not a verb but sod it), but I know that deep down I’m not near any real injury, and I should keep on truckin’.
So this morning, when considering what to write in this instalment, I decided to google ‘mind over matter depression’, eliciting an astonishing 3million plus results. Some of these were thought provoking and occasionally inspiring. Some were driven by frightening agendas. And some were face-palmingly ignorant and assumptive. Depression, and other mental health problems, are not simple. It is true that they are characterised by common symptoms and treatments, both preventative and remedial, and in that sense could justifiably be classified as no different to physical ailments. However, the intricacies of the chemical imbalances, the myriad causes, the differences between each and every individual experience, and the inconsistencies in the success of different treatments all breed a complexity not easily understood by even the foremost thinkers in science and medicine. One of the chief difficulties in my battles with both depression and anxiety has been an inability to successfully intellectualise why and what is happening to me. It has taken a great deal of time and effort to understand that, in all likelihood, I may never understand. Why should someone from a relatively normal background, having suffered no real trauma, develop chronic low moods and debilitating anxiety? My stock answer now is: I don’t know, I don’t care. My fight is with the present and with the future and not the past. That is not to say that for others, delving into the past can’t offer answers or solace. What’s important to recognise is that it’s different for everyone, and that far more people than you would think are having to work through these battles.
Enough about me (‘hooray’ I hear you cheer). As I am constantly at pains to point out, this isn’t about me – my blog is merely a vehicle. I’ve tried very hard to strike a balance between what I hope is a compelling individual story and the wider issues towards which I strive to make even the tiniest difference; I fear I may not have succeeded but please, forgive me any apparent self-indulgence.
18 days to go. Please share my blog, Facebook post, JustGiving page or any combination of the three. It means just as much as any donation.
p.s. another source of motivation during training has been the fact that I'll be finishing in the only all marble stadium in the world, the Panathaneic Arena. That's the image at the top of this blog entry :)
Here's an unashamed dose of melancholy and pathos (though it ends hopefully, I can assure you)...
I've been depressed. I've been addicted. I've been crippled by anxiety. I've been obese. I've been AWOL and difficult and inattentive and dour and capricious.
However, f all that, and turn the record over...
I've been fundraising (over 1k for MIND). I've been training (over 500km and 50 hours of pavement this year). I've been gritting teeth. I've been smiling.
Like so many other people, I am in a life long battle with these demons and the support I've had and continue to have is overwhelming. To everyone who's donated, thank you. To everyone who's liked or commented on or shared one of my posts, thank you.