Distracting practicalities

It is now exactly a week until the London Marathon (why not sponsor me now?!)

Nothing I have read about training for a long run suggests moving your mum into a nursing home the week before a marathon is a valid training technique. However, this is exactly what I have been doing for the last week. As you may know, training was already not going to plan, with lower back pain stopping me from running. At times it feels like I’ve been single-handedly keeping the local physiotherapy and osteopathy professions afloat!

I always knew that I’d want to write some words about how I’m feeling in the run up to the marathon. What I didn’t know is that I’d be writing more about my personal life and how I’m dealing with my mental health than I would be about my preparations for the marathon.

As you may know I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for the MS Society as my mum has been living with Multiple Sclerosis since before I was born (read how this affected me here). I wanted to share some thoughts on how I have dealt with the stress of the last few weeks.

Like many people, I find that it is easier to deal with the practicalities than it is to deal with the emotions of what is going on. In 2017, when I was having my depressive episode, I had to step back completely from supporting mum in looking for a new place to live as I just didn’t have the emotional resilience to cope. As things got better I began to get involved again on a practical level. I helped with clearing out, with discussing what mum wanted from a nursing home, and with visiting potential homes with mum. As she’s moved towards making a decision I’ve got increasingly involved in the logistics – the finances, downsizing, and helping to plan the move. It hasn’t been easy – when there has been a disconnect between what my mum expects and what can actually happen I’ve had to be the one to point this out. Most of the rooms in our house are filled with boxes of stuff that doesn’t fit in mums room. Even now the move has taken place the work continues – I’m currently visiting daily with a large suitcase of things to be sorted and then arranged or taken to charity.

I’d managed to avoid experiencing my emotions, until today.

Nothing in life prepares you for moment when after an exhausting week of moving your mum into a nursing home you consolidate the remaining boxes and find:

  • Two boxes of paperwork from when your parents divorced
  • Poems covering 30 years of life and loss
  • A box containing memories of your own life – a baptismal candle, hospital tags, and even my very first pair of big boy pants
  • Dozens of cards thanking mum for her generosity and love – from friends, from colleagues, from pupils.

A lifetime of memories with no home and not much future.

I posted part of this today, asking friends to find someone they love and tell then because life is short and one day it will be you crying on the floor in the bedroom.

So – whilst I spend the next week talking about the marathon, know that like thousands of other charity runners the running part is secondary. I’m not doing this to get a PB (although as someone pointed out, as this is my first marathon as long as I finish I will get one). I’m not doing this to win (that ship has long sailed). I’m doing this because my mum having MS is properly shit and because I want do something to try and make sure other people don’t end up in the same place as me (you can help do this by sponsoring me!)

One final thought for which you might think I’m foolish. In all of this work – in visits, in packing, in late night phone calls – I have tried my best to be aware of how I am feeling and doing my best to not overload myself. Given that my job involves supporting students with mental health issues, I’m chair of a local charity which is in the final stages of establishing a new charity, I’m trying to train for a marathon, and that mum has just moved into a nursing home this has meant I’ve cut back on my plans for fundraising. These included a quiz night, a sing-along Disney concert, and a crispy creme donut dash. This means that although I’ve already raised £1300 I’ve still got a long way to go before my £2000 target – and a huge way to go until I reach my overall £20,000 target. This means that although I objectively know how much I’ve achieved (instead of doing couch to 5k I’ve done couch to marathon) I am riddled with guilt at not having done enough. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but I do. So, a final little plea. If you think you have colleagues or friends who might sponsor me I will happily send you a sponsorship form or collection box with a covering letter. If you’d like to bake a cake – even better! And if you’re in London come and say hello – you won’t be able to miss me!

My ginger face with a bright orange t-shirt saying "Antony" in purple with the MS Society logo. I am wearing an orange tutu and blue running shoes.

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