Heifers! It's been a good while since the HeiferHood has enjoyed a guest blog post.
Today I want to share this post (and a subsequent one, in a few days) from a good friend of mine. Brett is an example of how to live right. A good, good husband, dad, and friend. He happens to struggle, as many of us do, with anxiety. You can read about his story HERE in #theHerd. He's amazing. Before reading below - I highly recommend you click and read about Brett. You will love him just as much as I do. Heifer-Hoof-Promise.
Without Further Adieu...
LIVE IN THE LIGHT
Christmas is a funny time. It’s a time I enjoyed as a child but grew to become uncomfortable with, along with many other family gatherings as time went by. This Christmas, in many ways was no different with the social expectations causing anxious feelings to grow and become more prominent with each passing hour. Nights out, end of term gatherings have all taken their toll. However I sit here now feeling more positive than I have in a long time. But why?
In recent years I have attend important meetings and interviews and before each one, and during, I have felt myself step gently back into the shadows, attempting to be seen, but not seen. Recently I met ex-colleagues in a pub in York. As I sat in a chair talking to a colleague I realised I was actually sinking further and further into the chair. I was trying to hide as the anxiety (and along with it, the nervous sweats) took hold. I used the techniques I’d used before and made frequent visits to the toilet to mop my brow. I sat on the edge of the group to ensure that, if necessary, I could make a swift retreat. This was all too familiar. I recalled the times I wish my voice could have been heard in meetings and the things I should have said in interviews had 50% of my brain had not been engaged in activities and exercises designed to control the anxiety beast.
So what changed this Christmas? Why am I looking forward to 2018 with clarity hitherto unknown?
Over the last year I have met some amazing individuals. This has been made possible through running and Twitter (a match made in heaven so it seems). The people I have met have accepted me as me. They have been relentless in this simple mantra. They have not judged, they have listened and they have understood. When I say it now it sounds remarkably like a year’s therapy has taken place. Or maybe this is just what real friends are like.
Critically two things have changed. Firstly due to their belief in me, the simple freedom they have given me to be me I have accepted me, warts and all. I have laid myself bare and they have accepted and welcomed me for who I am. Yes, I have a dark side to me and for the first time I am happy to accept that. I will not fight it anymore because to fight it is actually counterproductive. For whatever reason this is who I am and I will embrace that simple fact.
Secondly I feel the strength and the desire to step out of the shadows and step into the light. I cannot live in the shadows any more. That isn’t living, it’s existing and to be entirely honest that’s pretty exhausting. I want to be in the light to see what I can truly be. Yes, it’s going to be tough at times and if I fail or stumble now and then that’s okay too. I’m not going to beat myself up about it because you know what, I’m okay with not being able to cope sometimes. If I get in a situation and my anxiety means I need to leave the room, or the party, of the pub then so be it.
I have run races scared to push myself to the limit in case I fail. The fear was not the failure itself but the fear of what other people may think as they saw me failing. I ran within my limits and if I started to fail I would feel so bad physically I would be drained. This year I shall run with all my heart and if I fail then so be it.
I teach children every day. I teach them that failure is okay. I’m not sure when I stopped living by that mantra but it must have been when awareness kicked in (and took over). An event happened which I have no doubt I will remember when failure became unacceptable. When judgement became the norm and when I felt the eyes of the world were on me. No doubt the next part of my journey will uncover the reason.
So, what next? Well I will continue to celebrate all that is me, every day. I will do my absolute best to truly live in the light because I want to really live. Existing isn’t enough. I will no longer hide, I will step forward and I will not be fearful. And I will smile. Because I am me and I am all of me because we cannot pick and choose, but we can accept.
I will live in the light.
Brett is a father, a teacher, a runner. He completed his first triathlon at the tender age of 17 and has gone on to run every distance from sprint mile to marathon and aims to complete his first ultra marathon in 2018 at the not so tender age of 47.
He is open about his battle with mental health and since hitting rock bottom 8 years ago has been on what he would describe as being a life changing journey ever since. He is a firm believer that through sharing and support anything is possible and that above all else we must strive to de-stigmatise mental health. You can follow Brett on Twitter and cheer him along as he battles his anxiety and beats it most days.