Hello my fine-feathered Heifer-Friends (just go with me on that, I'm uncalfeinated).
A few days ago I shared another guest blog post from my friend Brett. It's called LIVE IN THE LIGHT. Click that link to read it. No really. Before you read this one, go click and read. (thank you!) Gosh, I'm bossy today. I'm excited to share with you his next blog post:
THE DAY I STOPPED ASKING WHY
It appears that after a certain point the realisations come thick and fast. This is the second in as many days.
Exactly when I stopped asking ‘why’ I’m not sure. But I know it was a conscious decision. Think about it, as a kid that’s all we do, it was certainly all I did. I was hungry for information. At any given opportunity I asked ‘why’? I was a sponge. But, sponges get saturated and maybe that’s what happened for me. I don’t know.
What I do remember are episodes when asking ‘why’ seemed to set me apart from other kids in a way I didn’t enjoy. I remember once going to a party. There was a ‘punch and judy’ show which i was encouraged to watch. I knew that the puppets were controlled by a man behind the curtain. The other children seemed enthralled whereas I sat there dissecting the mechanics behind the facade. I knew this wasn’t ‘normal’ behaviour so, to please my parents I played along.
I’m in a car with my family. It’s late. My father has been drinking. A lot. He is driving home and doesn’t seem to care. My mother is worried. She is asking him if she should drive. He laughs a drunk laugh and says he’s fine. He isn’t. He can’t handle a corner and instead goes straight over a corner. I ask why? I’m young, but I’m not stupid. I understand the risks he is taking.
Years go by and I’m with my family. Conversations at various social gatherings inherently descended into ‘piss’ taking where the ability to apply any level of intellect was totally unheard of. Nobody seemed to want to ask ‘why’? They seemed content with just ‘being’.
We move forward. A friend commits suicide, the breakdown of a relationship, the Manchester bomb, the Victoria Station bomb..... the list goes on. My mind is now continuously whirring and the issues with my family that have haunted me for so long are added to the list. I hit sensory overload.
At that point, I decided to stop asking why. It was a totally conscious decision. There just too much input, too many unanswered questions. I wanted to understand everything and couldn’t. But as I stopped asking why I think the child inside me became sad.
For years, decades actually, this is how I existed. I was, in effect, dumbing myself down. My mind, or at least some of it, became quiet. But it didn’t work. My mind wouldn’t accept the off switch and every so often something bubbled up. To cope I started reinventing myself. It kept me busy. Metaphorically, and in some cases physically I ran. I moved cities, I changed jobs, I had girlfriend after girlfriend. I even travelled and ended up working in the Catskill mountains, north New York state, desperately trying to find peace. I even thought I found it once. I was lying on my back on a football pitch somewhere Catskills looking up at the bluest sky. The pitch was empty and for that moment I felt at peace. That moment is the reason for the tattoo on my back.
But you can’t run forever. You can’t keep reinventing. Sooner or later the mind finds a way to break through every wall you put up.
Eventually, whilst living in Leeds I hit rock bottom and finally sought out the help I so desperately needed. That was the start of the journey.
It’s got to be ten years later and I’ve stopped running. I mean properly stopped running. Yes, I run now, more than ever and love every step. But this is REAL running and I’m not running from anything, I’m running to a better place every step I take. Does the running still quiet my mind. Yes, absolutely. But that’s okay as it allows me to focus on things positively. Do I now ask ‘why’? Yes, all the time. Is the child inside loving being able to ask why? Yes, absolutely, yes. Can I cope if I don’t know the answer? Yes.
Nobody can run forever. Nobody can shut down their mind forever. For me it was time to reboot and it feels amazing.
ABOUT BRETT: 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 HERE.