A picture of me changing shoes mid photoshoot last year. Hardly the inspirational image that conjures tales of achievement and self fulfilment. What it does show however is transition.
I recently posted on instagram about my mental health, that, for the majority of 2019 it was on a downwards trajectory, not that I would realise this till the past few weeks.
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Mental Health update This photo was taken in March 2019, somewhere on a fell, deep in the Lake District, @pyllon XP2 I was in a good place, on a high. The longest continuous stable period of my life, my motivation all time, my thirst for experiences unquenchable, my happy place broad & regularly achieved 2 weeks later, my birthday, I got ill. A month of downs followed, my physically endurance visibly torn from me. What remained hidden was my mental instability, how things were starting to unravel, in such a way it would take until October for me to be able to see it, December till I could identify what & why, acknowledge i have to take action Conversations with friends, all generated through posts on here over the past years, have shown clearly many are silently suffering, while the public perception is of relative positivity & stability. Our challenges may be different, the severity & complexities unique to each individuals experiences. But we stand together united that we can and will support one another I may hide my issues, carry any burden internally, be the person who try’s to help & offer my support. But to this day I carry my own set of challenges with me daily, I try to keep my demons suppressed, to see the good despite what life has taught me I’m not in a bad place. Creating new habits & routines is my current challenge, my actions aren’t destructive, they are limiting growth. Im currently in a holding pattern, with ample fuel, it’s for air traffic control to establish a new strategy to bring me down to terra firma A team of legends are about to run the Scottish National Trail – 864km – continuously, from Cape Wrath to Kirk Yetholm, raising money for @samhscotland / The Scottish Association for Mental Health, at for what many is the toughest time of year to get outside & stay strong mentally A big shout out to all those in the ENDEAVOUR team, thank you for putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation to raise awareness #mentalhealth #teampyllon
It got people talking. It was talking that lead me to the realisation that things had taken a step backwards. Last year was a series of misfires, a succession of events that didn’t lead to the next. I was unaware, oblivious to it. My body was relaxed from training, the work load was minimal, at no point was I pushing myself. And yet, I felt like I couldn’t push forward, I was incapable of unlocking speed.
This in itself meant I was treading water in a rip current, unable to progress and moving further away from my goals. Mentally, I wasn’t able to commit to myself or those around me. Mentally I was slowly breaking, in a very gradual undetectable way.
I’d lost my kick, my mojo.
I’ve always been a morning person. I’ve always been a night owl. I don’t really sleep. I’m a right pain if I’m sharing a hotel room with you or staying over, I just want to move.
Despite waking up late for training daily and sleeping peculiar hours, it didn’t register that something was off, a change had happened.
I isolated myself further, keeping connected to the outside world via social media, mindlessly scrolling, observing others achievements and what I perceived achievements to be, all the while wallowing in my own self pity at my current situation.
For the last few years have been good, in many respects i’ve had my shit together. I’ve been commanding my life and experiencing what the outdoor industry has to offer – from testing gear, being a judge at trade shows, shooting races and events, racing……. being the guy I’m known to be.
Yet inside, I was becoming a shadow of my former self, clutching onto moments that became my professional, personal and social life all in one, before retreating into myself.
But this week is different. Its Hell Week…. no, I’m not on US Navy Seal BUDS training. (truth be told I regret not going to officer selection for the Royal Marines at Lympstone when I had the opportunity, as now with the lack of a functioning eye; military, fire, police and other services are no longer an option to pursue).
My coach Pyllon holds this week as a winter kick up the arse, a way of challenging yourself when its tough to head out into the dark. Now, I haven’t achieved all I could, haven’t been the best I can be, but, and there is a but, Ive had the best week of running in months and I can feel some form of pace returning.
Whats more, I want to run.
I want to head out the door. I want to run further. I want to nail split times. I want to leave myself wrecked after a hard session.
Because it makes me feel alive. It gives me purpose. I can see, touch and taste progression.
And that is what this year is about.
Finding my why, finding my purpose.
I will continue to test gear, share stories from the trail and be your eyes and ears inside the industry of trail and ultra running. But I want to give back, I want to be able to offer more.
That more, well…..
You’ll have to follow me to discover what that evolves to be
If you or anyone you know is suffering silently, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or a DM on Instagram. I can’t offer professional help, what I can offer is an ear from someone who has spent most of their life dealing with extreme situations, the aftermath and aftershocks they create. Your experiences and words will never see the light of day, what we can do together is grow.