It feels peculiar to me to be setting goals for next year when not so long ago, getting out of bed was hard enough. Every Tom, Dick and Harry will tell you that when you’re recovering from mental illness, being realistic and setting yourself daily goals is the best practice, so here I am, casually going about organising my goals for 2018.
In the midst of starting my training in earnest for the British Westminster 10k in July (you can donate here if you feel like you’re able to, please and thank you in advance) that I’m running for OCD Action, I have decided to run the London Marathon in 2018. Crazy, right?! Right. But I’ve always flown into things head (or feet in this instance) first and gone full steam ahead. No doubt in a year’s time when I’m recuperating from the marathon, I’ll think back to this day and berate myself for making such a decision. However, in the meantime, I’m going to sit with the optimism in my tummy like a warm fuzzy, post-dominos feeling. I’d even go so far as to call it contentment! I’m unsure at the mo if OCD Action receives an automatic place for the marathon so I’ll be trying my best to figure that out and get something sorted as soon as possible.
A massive cog in the machine of inspiration for this seemingly rash decision of mine has been watching close friends and total strangers running for mental health charities and causes. Heads Together has swept the nation and everyone is talking about mental health. Admittedly, there’s been a lot of people arguing that all this talking is getting us nowhere if we haven’t got the resources to offer the support and help that’s so desperately needed. My caveat is that people are still taking their own life, suffering in silence and feeling considerable levels of shame, guilt and embarrassment because of their respective struggles with mental illness so for as long as that goes on, I won’t stop banging on about mental health and the parity that is needed to bring the care up to scratch when compared to physical ailments. Some personal mentions that I have to include for marathon runners are Ash Curry and Rohan Kallicharan. It’s a privilege to be able to call them a friend but it goes much deeper than that. Another person who I’d like to give a particular nod to is Bryony Gordon. She has been so open with her battles with mental illness, in particular OCD and I have nothing but admiration for her. Add to the fact that this was her first marathon as well so what a great reason to run it! They’re role models to me because they push themselves to the limit for reasons much higher and greater than themselves. If you can donate to their pages, please do!
As well as the marathon, I have some other goals in sight for next year. One of those being that I want to attend OCD Con in America. To be at an event like that, surrounded by like-minded people who have been through so much just to get through each day is something I’ve only ever dreamed of. I don’t quite know how it could be achieved but it’s something I’m certainly going to strive towards and keep in the back of my mind. Aside from that, I’d also really like to get my book published by the time the marathon rolls around next year, too! I’ve started it which is more than I could say a few months ago but I know I need to be working on it and investing a considerable chunk of my time into its development. It’s hard going over some of the more painful and difficult memories in my brain; the ones that I keep in filing cabinets in the deep recesses of my tinker, but it’s necessary so people can see the far-reaching consequences of what living with a mental illness can do to a person’s life. So make sure you keep your eyes peeled for that, and if any literary agents are reading this, I’m open to offers! I’m really friendly and I make a cracking cup of tea!
As ever, OCD likes to remind me that it’s still floating about. On good days, bad days and any days in between, OCD pops up like an annoying little ‘whack-a-mole’ game that never ends. At times in my life, it’s been a crutch, a comfort when my world was caving in and it was my one source of stability. Shit happens and now, I have other things to ground me, to reassure me, to enrich my life with kindness, love and support. That doesn’t stop OCD lingering around like a wretched demon, festering in the corner, oozing its rotten guts though, does it!
Everyone is entitled to mope about and feel some self-pity, so here’s mine. I’m gonna vent and it’s my blog so you can’t do anything to stop me! I tweeted this thread yesterday and it was the seed from which this blog post sprouted so I’ll leave it below.
“I long for a day where I don’t have to wash my hands after turning off the taps in a regular way. I get the irony but it’s not funny anymore. Or having to shower after every time I go to the toilet which puts such a strain on my day & dictates where I can or can’t go. It’s things like this, my individual struggles, that continue to prompt me to speak out so that other people don’t suffer. My life is a constant battle between weighing up my worries and fears against my hopes and dreams. I strive to make a change for the world and all those who live with OCD because we’re just like everyone else, wired a little differently, granted, but we just want to live without thinking about EVERYTHING and be able to do what everyone else does without the added worry and pressure. We deserve to be able to live free of fear and worry plaguing our thoughts. Fuck OCD & everything it has to offer”
Don’t let anyone, yourself included, tell you that you can’t do something. You’re a product of millions of years of random events culminating in your formation, from chunks of stardust and the universe in ecstatic motion (thanks, Jalaluddin Rumi). Don’t let your inner voice tell you you’re incapable. You, yes, you; you can achieve anything you want to in this life. Don’t be afraid to set those goals that seem to others unreachable. Don’t undermine your self-worth, your value to the human race, your special-ness. You have Carlness (if you know, you know). You’re flippin’ incredible, remember that.