Second Brighton marathon

Have taken a break from the dayjob and some of the ridiculous stresses that came with it at the end of last year – like not being paid for example, that can be a bit stressful! Time for a rest, maybe a complete change of direction.

I now have more time to be getting on with other things, such as training for the next Brighton marathon. I’m putting in roughly one short run (an hour) and one longer run (two hours) a week at the moment. Running into the wind and rain along the seafront is not always a bundle of laughs, but it does get the feel-good chemicals whizzing around the body for a few hours afterwards.

Last year I finished in just over 4 hours. This time round I hope to improve on my personal best of 3 hours 51 minutes, which was at the London marathon in 1997. Am really looking forward to it.

A great New Year

Decided to make a bit more effort than usual this New Year’s Eve. Popped down to the seafront at the end of my street for some great fireworks and flying lanterns, then danced to some drum’n’bass for several hours, courtesy of Chris Natural and the Lunarcy crew. It didn’t seem to matter that I was probably twice as old as most people there, I like to think I wasn’t guilty of “Dad dancing” but perhaps the youngsters were humouring me! Happy New Year to everyone!

My mother’s mental illness

schizophreniaJust recently I have been thinking more than usual about my mother, and the impact she has had on my life. Rumour has it she gave birth to me, that was quite a big impact for a start wasn’t it?! Her initial diagnosis of “paranoid schizophrenia” (there is plenty of debate as to how helpful or accurate these kind of labels actually are…) was in 1969 or so and although she has had quite long periods of mental stability since, she never really recovered.

Roughly ten years ago I made the decision to completely cut her out of my life. As an only child who had done my best, I had simply had enough – there were times when she was pulling me under too. As difficult as it might be for the majority of people to understand, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Those who have had to deal first-hand with the reality of extreme mental illness (e.g. attacking my Dad with a knife in front of me, wandering the streets half-naked in the middle of the night, religious fanaticism, stays in psychiatric hospitals etc.) will get where I’m coming from. She has been in a care home these last few years and I heard recently that she has now begun to develop dementia. I politely declined the request to take on the Power of Attorney, I have no interest in being sucked back into her bonkers world. God bless her, if that doesn’t sound too patronizing. I love her of course.

Kind of ironically, dealing with my Mum turned out to be ideal training for all the psychiatric support work I’ve done. Also, looking at her astrological birth chart for the first time (it explained so much) was the beginning of my serious interest in astrology. My mother was a successful classical violinist, so I guess I can thank her for some of my music too.

mental healthIn terms of compassion and support from society, mental health is not as sexy as cancer, famine relief, or the cat’s home. Many of the mentally ill are on benefits, it looks likely that many will be amongst the first to suffer as a result of the UK government cutbacks. There are organizations such as MIND and the under-funded NHS doing great work, but as a whole, I don’t think society cares much about people with mental health problems. This seems a bit odd as it indirectly or directly touches so many of us, even Stacey and her mother in Eastenders… ahem.

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