Seven challenges down

I can’t believe I’m seven challenges down, having raised just under £400 already! Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me and donated so far. I really couldn’t be doing any of this without you all. You all know who you are, so thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I’m now four months into this whole 35 Before 35 challenges project. I’m going to be completely honest and say that I’ve already started to feel very overwhelmed and stressed at times. This is the total opposite of what I wanted when I set out on this journey (there you go, I’ve said that dreaded word again!) I think I’m just putting too much pressure on myself as I want to do my absolute best throughout the 20 months of challenges in order to raise as much money as I possibly can for both Leeds Mind and Yorkshire Cancer Research.

I’ve quickly realised though that when I start feeling like this, I just need to remember why I started this in the first place. Yes, I started this to become fitter and stronger but I also wanted, no sorry, NEEDED to improve my mental health. The only way I know how to do this is through exercise.

I personally haven’t had crippling depression, but I have been suffering over the last few years. I’ve actually just finished a CBT course, which felt like a massive step. I’ve learnt some really good techniques around controlling worry, anxiety and negative thoughts. It’s going to take time but hopefully these techniques will become second nature. I’m also on a waiting list for help with my non-existent self esteem and confidence. For as long as I can remember, people have been telling me to have/or I should have more confidence in myself. However, we know it’s not as easy as that. I’ve said that I’ve not had crippling depression, but I think it’s fair to say that I have had and still have crippling self doubt and confidence issues. I’m hoping that with a bit more help, I’ll be able to learn even more techniques and these will help to keep the feelings of worthlessness and never feeling good enough at anything I do, at bay.

Again, taking the step to go on a CBT course wasn’t easy. It’s taken a few people close to me to realise that I haven’t been happy/myself for a while. Before this, I would have put my behaviour down to feeling lazy, and my lack of motivation was down to being tired from marathon training (I know how much this doesn’t make sense!) I didn’t want to go out because I was busy saving, etc etc. The excuses are all there but the truth is I sometimes find that withdrawing from events and/or people is the easiest ‘out’ when I’m feeling low. But then that just makes things worse. Hello, vicious cycle!

You don’t necessarily have to be at that critical point of full on depression to have poor mental health. Many people are fully functioning so you can’t always spot the warning signs. I can imagine that there are a lot of people like me out there. This new focus of mine is definitely helping me and I want to help/show others, who are also feeling low in mood, having self worth/doubt issues and who are anxious etc. is that with a new focus, it could be the stepping stone to starting to feel better. Of course, it’s a long process and it’s definitely not as easy as it sounds but I truly believe having something else to focus on will help. I just hope that however much I raise for Leeds Mind will help many people out there just like me.

With regards to raising money for Yorkshire Cancer Research, I had a whole idea about writing a ranting “screw (although replace that word with something stronger!) cancer” blog post. But I realised there is absolutely no point in wasting my energy being angry that cancer doesn’t care who it hits while ripping families and friends apart, because what would that achieve?! So instead I want to focus of all this negative energy into something positive by raising as much money as I possibly can for the charity. Without constant donations and fundraising, they won’t be able to continue researching preventative medicine or even cures, and that’s not something that I’m comfortable with.

Since I started the 35 Before 35 challenges, some people have (very kindly) said how inspiring/inspirational I am. I would never describe myself as this but it has been a nice confidence booster and I feel very lucky to have such supportive people in my life. However, I’m not the inspirational one. The inspirational ones are the people who fight day in, day out with their mental health and cancer diagnoses, family and friends included. I know a few people who are at different stages of cancer albeit in very different situations and THEY are the truly inspirational ones. Every time I see them, they have a smile on their face and they are so strong.

I’ve rambled enough. I’m doing 35 before 35 for my friends and everyone else who is affected with poor mental health and cancer. We can fight both causes if we just do this together. Let’s help and encourage each other every day! I believe in each and every one of you. You’re all so much stronger than you know, and maybe feel at this particular moment in time.

So, next time I’m stressing about the inconsequential issues of training, logistics, fundraising events or what my next challenge is going to be, I’ll think of everyone affected and that will truly spur me on.

To show your support, please visit my fundraising page, virginmoneygiving.com/35before35

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