I'm in Athens. The birthplace of Athena. The home to the temples of Zeus and Posideon (okay so they have a lot of temples but these ones are still in pretty good nick!). A city I fell I love with this time last year. A place with many happy memories for me, but some difficult feelings too which I don't get understand.
I missed Naomi's talk this week because I was at CBT, a therapy designed to help you with the here and now, to give you techniques to help get out of bed in the morning and to fight the daemons in your head. It's a shame as I believe I would have benefited from hearing Naomi's story.
My last week has been focussed on getting me on the plane here. I'm on my own and changed my flight so there was less time here for me to worry about. I wanted to come as I didn't want to feel that I failed. I would have hated myself for that.
Yesterday I went on a cycle tour to keep me occupied. I had company for 4 hours and saw sights I hadn't seen before. It helped for a time. The knotted feeling in my stomach was still there but outwardly I pretended to be the me I used to be. Afterwards I went back to my apartment and cried, a lot. I was alone and not strong enough to keep the daemons away. As usual when the daemons arrive my appetite goes (the only good thing about all of this!). However not so good the day before a marathon. My last proper meal was on the flight on Friday lunchtime. Yesterday I had a chocolate bar and packet of crisps. It's what was in the apartment when I couldn't face the world. Fortunately thanks to amazing friends and strangers who texted me until I fell into a fitful sleep my thoughts remained just that.
This morning the daemons were still there and they shouted at me again and again on the bus to the start. I tried to sleep, to ignore them and finally searching the internet for help. It's hard to describe how you can feel lonely in a place with 1000s of people but the demons make it possible. However I knew that being there meant I was safe. No matter what we look after each other. By being there and willing to try put me amongst like minded people. They will never know it but they got me out of bed and to the start line.
Was I happy with my run today? Nope. It was my slowest road marathon ever. Am I happy that I walked most of the way? Nope. I wish I felt able to run. But seeing the support from those communities who suffered the loss of 99 lives as a result of wild fires this summer, getting a hug from a friend at 25km and seeing the girls I met yesterday on the cycle at the finish were positive moments. Someone's you have to accept that just getting out of bed in the morning is going to use all the strength you have for that day and anything else is just a bonus.
I'm going back to the apartment alone again. The daemons are already whispering to me and will get louder and louder, they always do. However, tonight when they scream I'll hold my medal tightly in my hands and try and tell them that I can do it, I am worth it.
For all of you who come to these run and talks I thank you. For me and for those who may be suffering in silence and may never tell you that you were their rock that day. It is isolating and scary but running and running with friends does make a difference.
Thanks for sharing this so openly and honestly Michelle, incredibly brave and courageous of you.
Running a marathon is never easy, so to fight against the demons, little nutrition and poor sleep takes great strength. On a day where you felt you couldn’t you did anyway! It may not a PB, but I’ve found I learn more abut myself and my inner fight on the days when I get a PW!
Keep running and talking, I and team squirrel are behind you. Always around for runs, chats and cake too!
Wow... I am sure it doesn't matter how quick it was don't be too hard on yourself. It was an amazing achievement just getting through it!
As someone still building themselves up to take on a complete marathon at all, let alone dealing with everything else. I would like to thank you for Sharing and helping to inspire me and I am sure others as well.
Well done Michelle. Super strong spirit to battle those feelings, fly overseas alone, make the start line of a marathon and complete it (with terrible nutrition!) and then be brave enough to share how you felt.
Be kind to yourself and your body.
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