Marathon Man – My Running Journey, Part 1.

Monday 6th May 2019 will forever be marked as one of the greatest days of my life; the day I completed the Milton Keynes Marathon!

All the books and articles about mental health that I have read say that exercise is great therapy; walking the dog worked, but I wanted more, I wanted to lose the Homer Simpson gut that too much alcohol had given me; I also wanted to achieve something, anything.

I started running short distances because that’s all I could manage, the problem was that I had no idea how far I was going, so I decided to get a running app on my phone called ‘Map My Run’.  The first recorded distance I achieved was 4.75k, which was a pretty good effort.

Motivation was a big problem for me, especially when the depression got bad; it’s easy to talk yourself out of things at the best of times, but when I hit rock bottom I just couldn’t scrape myself off the sofa.  I needed a goal, something that would get me out and running. Read more

Anxiety and the Brain, Part 9: Useful Examples of Amygdala-based Anxiety.

The book I have been referencing for the Anxiety and the Brain series (Rewire Your Anxious Brain) has some examples of how anxiety can affect someone, and why amygdala-based anxiety does not always make logical sense.

The Anxious Teddy Bear:

A lady was presenting a teddy bear to her grandson, who was running happily toward her.  Then he suddenly fell and split his lip open on the driveway.

Now he experiences amygdala-based anxiety whenever he sees a teddy bear.  Because the perfectly harmless teddy bear was associated with the pain of the injury, the teddy bear became a trigger, leading to a fear of teddy bears. Read more

Anxiety and the Brain, Part 8: Learning from Experience.

“The amygdala is not logical.”

Trying to alleviate anxiety, panic, worry and avoidance of triggers with reasoned thought and rational arguments is never going to work.  Those close to you will always try to help by offering logical reasons for what is going on with you; unfortunately they have not experienced what you have, so what seems illogical to them is actually terrifying to you.  Who could be scared of a teddy bear, their so cute and fluffy!

In the same way that the amygdala has learnt to fear, EXPERIENCE is the only sure way to retrain it. Read more

Anxiety and the Brain, Part 7: Learning the Language of the Amygdala.

We now know that the amygdala is a big player when it comes to anxiety, but how do you understand something that you have no control over?

If you want to understand someone who is speaking a foreign language, you learn the language or find a way to communicate, otherwise you won’t have a clue what the person is trying to tell you.  The same goes for the amygdala; to understand it we need to learn its language.

To start with, it is important to know that the amygdala has pre-programmed responses from the day we are born and it is ready to work from day one.  From this point it constantly learns and changes based on your day-to-day experiences. Read more

Depressed or Just Ungrateful?

I am really struggling with the depression at the moment, I don’t feel as though I am getting anywhere, which really brings me down, I lose motivation and end up thinking ‘what’s the point?’

It’s not to say that nothing good is happening, it’s just that they seem short lived, and the negative stuff soon overwhelms the positive.  Because of this I then get stressed that I am being ungrateful for the good things that are happening, and the progress I am making.  It’s a vicious cycle.

The main area I am struggling with is work, and not being able to earn money.  This is a big cause of the depression because it makes me feel useless and a burden.  The problem I have is that I pretty much have to start a career from scratch.  It is hard enough trying to change industries when you have a job, throw in some serious anxious triggers, being out of work for 3 years and a mental health disability and the options are pretty slim.

So what’s stopping me from working? Read more