Running Pt 1 (Being Heckled)

I go running somewhat a lot of the time. But I’m not a ‘good’ runner. I don’t look like a runner. I don’t go out in short shorts and a sports bra and I don’t run particularly fast and not particularly far. And I wanted to potentially write more than one post about running when you’re not fast, or super fit, or can run super far, about how rubbish running can be when you’re not a professional, and how good it can actually be too.

So to start with, I’m gonna talk about being heckled. Cause this is such an annoyance. I like to run in the mornings. Like, I’ll get up, breathe, take the half hour or so it takes to get out of bed, then chuck some clothes on and get out the door. Ideally, this would mean I would be out of the door by 8 but let’s be real that never happens, so it’s heading towards half 8, quarter to 9 by the time I’m outside. Which is fine, great, it’s the morning and I’m ready to exercise. However, a lot of the routes I run go past schools. Primary schools tend to be okay since kids under the age of 11 tend not to start yelling at you as you run past. It’s the high school that is an issue. I have had boys (and it is always boys) that look like they’re 12 or 13 yell stuff at me as I’m running past. I mean, I’m 21 guys, I’ve done the horrors that was year 8 and year 9 so I don’t need you to be shouting at me please and thankyou. I don’t run with music because the earphones jump out of my ears and I’m paranoid about being run over so I can’t even pretend not to have heard them.

I have been heckled by grown men too (what a surprise right?). Recently, it was at the end of a 10 mile run so I wasn’t looking particularly impressive (think red face, grimaces, sweat dripping down my forehead type glamourous) and they yelled something, I think about there being something in another 2 miles? Honestly, I don’t even know but why do they have to do it in the first place? Like what do you get out of this? HOW DOES THIS ENTERTAIN YOU? Is there nothing better for you to be doing? Am I that entertaining? It’s not like I shout back. I like to imagine I flick my hair over my shoulder and run on like an Amazon but realistically I probably look like someone has eaten the last of my food and I’m super pissed.

Or, you get the old guys who are just killing time walking around the streets like 60+ year old men do, and they’ll stop and say something. I had two men do this today. And no, it wasn’t particularly offensive (but my ears stop working when I’m running so in all honesty they could be saying anything and I’d smile as I ran past) but I don’t understand why they feel the need to comment at all. I have never in my life had a woman say anything to me when I was running alone apart from once, when I was doing a fartlek and another runner swept past me and encouraged me on (which also was a tad annoying but that’s just because it was early).

What is it that makes blokes feel like they need to say something to you as you run past? I have no problem with the customary ‘morning’ or smile and nod as I’m running past people, I’m a notherner, I’m friendly, I can do that no problemo, but why on earth do you feel the need to comment on someone that is running? Sometimes I really feel like stopping, turning around and saying ‘please go run 7 miles and then come and tell me how you feel buddy’ cause let me tell you, anything over 5 miles and I’m gonna look like death on legs if it’s warm and almost death on legs if it’s cold.

So, here are my few and far between tips on how to deal with people that are yelling at you while you’re running –

  1. Ignore them. You’re the one who is hitting the pavement, tearing your muscles in order for them to repair and become stronger, making your respiratory system work hard and clear those airways. You do you and ignore the people that are clearly not worth your time because I don’t see them running anywhere.
  2. Run with music. This way you can actually not hear them, or at least pretend that you haven’t heard them. If you do this please make sure you can hear traffic though, crossing roads can be dangerous, there’s heavy machinery about (being driven by people who aren’t running).
  3. That’s all I got pretty much. I am a scared child inside so as much as I would say I would like to turn round and shout back I am never in a million years going to do it (and I mean, it’s like encouragement so I probably wouldn’t recommend it either).

Here are my tips to help stop yourself heckling and shouting at runners you see on the street –

  1. Don’t. It’s that simple.

Travel Anxiety

I feel like travelling is an ‘in thing’ right now. If you haven’t done it, then someone else you know will have done, and most likely will have posted numerous photos on social media about it. I think it’s incredible that we are able to travel hundreds of miles away in machines that we have made and get to experience new cultures and see sights that generations ago, no one in the family or town would have ever imagined seeing.

However, it does also make me feel incredibly incredibly jealous, and that’s because I have travel anxiety, or at least get so nervous and anxious around travelling and the thought of being somewhere new that I just can’t do it.

There are caveats – I am more than willing to go somewhere with people that I trust (aka my family), I am more comfortable visiting places that are closer to home (aka the UK) and I am more comfortable if I have planned the trip to an inch of its life. I mean, I still get incredibly anxious about going on holiday in the UK with people that I am less comfortable with (aka my friends soz guys) and on going abroad with my family.

I think a lot of what happens in my head is that I don’t like not being in control of things and I don’t like the unknown. I hate the unknown, hence why I’m not a fan of the dark and I’m not a fan of starting new things because I don’t know what will happen or how to be in control. But yeah, being anywhere new or just merely not being in my normal routine gets me all angsty and uncomfortable. And I get to the point where I just won’t do something because of how it makes me feel.

I hate this. There are so many places that I want to do, and that I want to be able to do but right now I just can’t. I want to go to Japan, and NYC, and to Rome and Florence and Venice. I want to go to Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye and London. I find it incredibly difficult to give excuses as to why I haven’t gone to the places that I keep saying I want to go to – the old ‘I’m a student and don’t have much money’ doesn’t really work after using a few dozen times. And just saying that ‘booking this trip is going to make me feel so uncomfortable I’m going to cry multiple times a day even before we go’ isn’t really a good enough excuse (or at least it seems it).

So I kinda just wanted to put it out there that not everyone can travel, and (also) not everyone wants to and not everyone wants to go to the typical student travelling places. It’s all okay, no matter what. However, if you get really bad anxiety over a trip, whether that’s the unknown of the new environment, the method of transport, the lack of control over the new environment and routine, it might be worth your while talking about it. I mean, I can’t really say for sure but I’m hoping that if I come to terms with it all a little bit then I might get more okay with doing new things.

 

 

Things I learnt in July

July July July, a good old month of rain and sunshine, the start of a new bullet journal and suddenly reading like 5 books. Here’s what I learnt in July –

  1. Intelligence does not equal grades
    • This was one I learnt over a long period of time because let’s be honest here, I am not one to get As in essays, like ever
    • But, I did come to the realisation that no matter what, the grade you get at the end of an exam or from some coursework doesn’t tell you how clever someone is. Exams, in my opinion, mostly just test memory let’s be real
    • Also, that intelligence is more than just books. I mean, common sense, people sense, being able to convey an idea, to be able to make a relationships with people, to be able to participate in a debate, musical intelligence, artistic intelligence I mean, no one can do everything perfectly right? Intelligence is more than just one thing
  2. You don’t have to react like everyone else to situations
    • I often don’t feel like I react the way I’m supposed to, or how everyone else reacts to situations and I find myself watching what other people are doing/reacting in order to know the best way for me to react
    • That was kinda long winded I’m sorry
    • BUT I have kinda come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to respond to a situation the way most other people will and that’s okay so long as it’s not hurting anyone
    • Graduation was a big one here – it felt like an in-between day involving a lot of standing around and it wasn’t magical or fun or exciting. It was a day in between many other days that just ended up with my feet being sore and tired
  3. Day trips are the best
    • I made it a goal for July to make more day trips to places and despite not going all over the show I very much enjoyed the places I went to
    • I went to Leeds (kinda) and Haworth with an absolute babe of an English nerd, had some cracking ice cream and learnt something about the Bronte’s
    • I went to Liverpool to the museum and art gallery and got soaking wet in the rain and raced onto the train with 30 seconds to spare and felt like a superhero
  4. Running with other people is interesting
    • I joined a running club this month. And they are some of the friendliest people I have ever met – I have never felt more welcomed into a new group ever
    • Having to remember how to formulate words while running can sometimes be really difficult and honestly, I mostly just run and listen to everyone else talk
    • HOWEVER, running with other people makes you more accountable and so I can’t just bail on a 6 miler and cut it short, which is good in the long run. It’s also made me realise that I can run faster then I think I can
    • Running is all the mind (well at least 75%)

Soooooooo not that many people ever are interested but July meant I learnt a lot, mostly about running if I’m completely honest cause that seems to have taken over a few of my evenings now. I’m not even sorry about it either.

Why I’m not watching To The Bone

As a result of who I follow on Twitter, my feed has been flooded with comments, reviews and criticisms about To The Bone, from people who have and who haven’t watched it. I’m writing this as an explanation of why I won’t be watching it, and hopefully, make anyone else who is feeling guilty about not watching feel better.

For anyone who doesn’t know, To The Bone is a new Netflix film that was released on Friday 14th July. It is about a 20 year old women who has anorexia and enters an inpatient residential program. Without going and googling the rest of the storyline this is as much as I know for sure. I have read enough articles about this film to have a brief idea, but I’m not sure on the specifics.

I’m not going to be watching To The Bone for a number of reasons. Primarily, I don’t particularly want to watch something that is going to make me doubt my recovery. I don’t need to prod and poke at this thing that feels very fragile and is very new. Honestly, I just don’t want to do something that is going to make me worse about myself. I mean, I’m being responsible and doing some good old self care over here. And I want to make it clear that if watching anything is going to make you feel terrible about yourself, and damage your mental health in any way whatsoever, please don’t watch the thing and definitely don’t feel guilty for putting your mental health first.

I am tired of eating disorders being portrayed in the media as some facet and representation of anorexia. Most people who have an eating disorder don’t have anorexia (or even bulimia). Most people struggle with a combination of behaviours and thoughts and most are diagnosed with OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder) which replaced EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), which people might be more familiar with. And a lot of people who have had anorexia or bulimia may transition into another type of eating disorder which in itself can be extremely distressing and disconcerting.

I think the reason most representations of eating disorders are of anorexia, or at least involve an underweight white teenage girl is that we seem to be obsessed with being thin. We are constantly striving for an appearance that is skinny and often, unrealistic and unhealthy. I see this in the children who are wearing activity trackers like Fitbits. These 8, 10, 12 year olds are wearing this watch that is constantly monitoring their steps, and giving them a best estimate of how much energy they have used that day. I just think that is the saddest thing. To be told by merely being given one of these, that your activity level and energy used is imperative, and by extension, that how much you weigh is one of the most important things about you. Also side note – anecdotally, it does seem that most of the kids I see wearing these trackers are girls, just saying, reinforcing unhealthy and plain ridiculous ideas about appearance and weight for girls.

I appreciate that people, many people, have this experience of an eating disorder. Hell, I did. I know the appeal and the feeling and experiences of starving yourself to death. And I understand why people are insistent on showing this to other people. Little by little, they make it a problem that people understand and so, reducing stigma (hopefully). What strikes me so often is that these accounts often give the impression that finding help is straightforward and easy. It really really isn’t. If you live in the UK, you will know how underfunded the NHS is. Unfortunately that also impacts mental health provisioning. For too many people, they are turned away from secondary care due to not fitting into a stringent criteria that only those who have physically deteriorated the most will fit into (for Adult Mental Health, CAMHS is a different story). This basically excludes hundreds and hundreds of people from treatment that they desperately need. So many people will fall between the cracks and be denied help unless they meet these strict criteria. Which inevitably leads to people deteriorating because they have been effectively told they are not unwell enough to deserve help. Which is stupid, dangerous and so frustrating. No matter what, if you are struggling with your eating and your thoughts around your eating, weight, appearance or self worth you are always worthy of help.

I just feel like maybe there needs to be a little bit of representation of the other manifestations of an eating disorder, and how life with an eating disorder is. Why don’t people who aren’t white shown with an eating disorder? Where are the men and boys who have an eating disorder? What about the older people? The people who binge and purge, the people who just binge or the people who over exercise compulsively? Just showing restrictive eating disorders in the media just perpetuates this myth that most people have anorexia, and the others aren’t as serious or as prevalent. It’s ridiculous and damaging. Maybe if people saw these other eating disorders represented in films and books they might understand that not everyone suffers in the same way. It might also lead some people to understand that their behaviours can be dangerous and life threatening. Because all eating disorders are, no matter how prettily they are packaged up. They are all life threatening through both damage to the body and risk of suicide.

I haven’t watched To The Bone, so I don’t know how accurate its portrayal of anorexia really is. From what I’ve heard there are both good parts and bad parts but overall it demonstrates how damaging an eating disorder can be to both the sufferer and their family. I just know that I’m not going to watch it, and no one should feel that they should have to, no matter what.

I am the 1 in 4

I’m really tired of the ‘us and then’ mentality that some people have regarding mental health. Usually, the ‘them’ are people with a mental illness or who are in mental distress. After recent trips to A & E to visit a relative, I have had to listen to this kind of damaging opinion being thrown about (usually about other people in the hospital) and it has made me annoyed enough that I thought I would shout into the void about it. And if I’m being honest it might not even flow properly because I wrote this at like 11pm last night and I am still annoyed.

I think what irritates me the most about this mentality is because it really doesn’t mean anything. These people are drawing an arbitrary line in the sand and saying that everyone on the other side are ‘crazy’ and ‘dangerous’ and ‘not okay’. And I have several issues with that.

Firstly, how on earth can you assume that you are never going to be in mental distress or experience mental illness? 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year (Mind, 2017) and it is estimated that 1 in 6 people will experience a mental health problem in any given week (Mental Health Foundation, 2017). Over a lifetime, 20.6 in 100 people will experience suicidal thoughts and 7.3 in 100 people will self harm (Mind, 2017). I’m going to relate this to other statistics because sometimes numbers on their own seem meaningless. 1 in 11 children have asthma in the UK (Asthma UK, 2017). Less than 1 in 5 people are smokers (ASH, 2017). Less people have asthma then are likely to experience a mental health problem and yet asthmatics aren’t told that they are not like the rest of the population and are not seen as ‘other’.

I think the thing I’m trying to say is that there is no way to know that you won’t struggle with your mental health at some point. It can happen and there’s no real way of saying whether it will or won’t. Another thing to point out is that mental health and mental ill-health fluctuates. It may be that one day you draw the line and I’m on the side with you, and the other people who decided that having a mental illness makes you ‘other’, and on another day I might be on the other side of the line as an outcast.

By making this divide you are stigmatising thousands of millions of people by effectively saying, ‘you’re broken and we don’t want you around’. It’s a bit like the ‘not in my back yard’ mindset with wind turbines. When I was at school, the company that owned the building next door wanted to make it into a secure mental health unit, primarily to treat eating disorders, when the nearest inpatient unit was in the next county. That was in 2011. I was 11 years old and didn’t really pay much attention, but I knew that a lot of the parents weren’t happy about this plan because these patients would be ‘crazy’ and ‘needed to be locked up’. I was 11 years old and hearing these things. Roll on 5 years time when I’m developing an eating disorder, it makes things a little difficult to try and tell people what you are experiencing. This is what makes it so difficult to talk about – if you know that people are going to view you as someone who they are frightened of, or who they don’t want around, you aren’t going to express that you are struggling.

How do you divide people up like that though? Earlier I wrote that mental health fluctuates, but our ability to hide it also fluctuates. The ability to blend into everyone else, everyone with stable mental health, does not equal the severity of what you are dealing with. You can be suicidal and still make it into work. You can be having multiple panic attacks a day and still make it into school. You can be hallucinating and still go out with your friends. It isn’t a cut and dry issue. On the other hand, you may be experiencing these things and not be able to go to work, school or out to town. And that’s okay.

However, if you can hide what you are dealing with enough that people aren’t aware of it, it can lead people to say ‘well you’re not like them‘. Who is them?  Is the ‘them’ the people who live with voices or who have to carry out compulsions in order to quiet the obsessive thoughts? They are us. We are all the 1 in 4 because who knows which 1 in 4 it will be? If you are going to shut them out then I’m walking right out with them. This divide is pointless and damaging. There really isn’t that much difference between us all, I promise you.

It just makes me really cross that people automatically assume mentally ill means dangerous. Sure, you can have a mental illness and be dangerous and violent. Just as someone can be dangerous and violent and not have a mental illness. People who have a mental illness are more likely to be a victim of crime then commit crime – those who have a serious mental health problem are 10 time more likely to be a victim of crime than the general population (Mental Health.gov, 2017). Don’t paint everyone with the same brush.

People who are experiencing mental distress or who live with mental illness aren’t necessarily dangerous (just as someone who is mentally stable isn’t necessarily not dangerous). We aren’t broken, our brains just don’t work like the average human brain. We might need medication to make it work in a way that we can deal with, and that’s okay. We might not need medication or it might not work in the right way for us or it might take several attempts to find the right one. And that’s okay too. I am in awe of everyone who carries on with their problems, mental health related or not because life isn’t easy. And people making such ridiculous divides between us doesn’t make life any easier. There is no us and them. We are all the 1 in 4. And maybe if we didn’t make such divides it would make talking about it easier by accepting that this is a human experience that we might all experience at one point in our lifetimes.

References

http://ash.org.uk/category/information-and-resources/fact-sheets/

https://www.asthma.org.uk/about/media/facts-and-statistics/

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/index.html

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-uk-and-worldwide

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#.WWCwvYjyvIU

Climate Change Deniers

I’m writing this after being told by someone with the confidence of a man who has watched too many YouTube videos that ‘global warming is a myth’. And being perfectly honest with you, it really irritated me, for a number of reasons not least of which that having that opinion frees you from any responsibility to live in a way that reduces your damage to the planet.

So, here is my opinion and annoyance fuelled written rant about global warming/climate change/climate destabilisation and why it is most likely real. Disclaimer – I am not a climate scientist, I haven’t studied the environment in an academic setting, because I don’t think Geography at high school counts. I don’t do this for a living but I believe in the 90% of scientists who will tell you that climate change is a real thing, and I also believe in the evidence.

The first piece of ‘evidence’ that was shoved in my face was that global temperatures have decreased slightly since 1998. This was said despite the fact that multiple sources (NASA for one) have shown that temperatures have in fact increased, and the hottest years on record are 2016, 2015 and 2014. There was a brief hiatus around 1998 where global temperatures didn’t seem to rise but when you look at that brief period of time in the context of global temperatures from 1880 to the present, it is clear that the overall trend is for temperatures to increase.

The planet’s long-term warming trend is seen in this chart of every year’s annual temperature cycle from 1880 to the present
The planet’s long-term warming trend is seen in this chart of every year’s annual temperature cycle from 1880 to the present, compared to the average temperature from 1980 to 2015. Record warm years are listed in the column on the right. Credits: NASA/Joshua Stevens, Earth Observatory

Secondly, it is not just air surface temperatures which are important, but the ocean surface temperatures. Sea surface temperatures obviously vary depending on what part of the planet the water is at. But changes in the sea surface temperature can alter marine ecosystems and species (please look at the Great Barrier Reef). The ocean absorbs around 80% of the increased heat in the atmosphere hence seriously affecting the species that live in the oceans.

If you want more evidence that the effects of climate change and global warming, please look at the rising sea levels (which has risen by ~15cm over the last 100 years), loss of glaciers and the increase in natural disasters.

It is also highly likely, that whatever natural cycle the Earth happens to be in, we are exacerbating the effects due to the highly increased levels of gases that we have released into the air since the Industrial Revolution. Yes, I know that in the Earth’s long and illustrious history its climate has cooled and warmed, mainly due to variations in sunlight and volcanic eruptions sending tons of ash into the atmosphere that blocked out the (guess what?) sunlight.

Honestly, the only places I could find that said that global warming was either myth or nothing to do with humans was the Daily Mail and the Express so I suppose it depends on how much you want to stand behind them.

So, there’s the stuff I gathered after what, 10, 15 minutes on the internet. I mean, it’s not particularly hard. However, now we come to the points in the argument that I couldn’t dispute. I was told that scientists are lying to us in order to keep us controlled and basically destroy capitalism. Now, I’m really sorry but scientists are not lying in order to undermine the economy, they’re telling the truth in order to save the planet. How shortsighted can a species really be to evolve and survive on a planet, have lived for hundreds of thousands of years and then develop technology and start to poison the planet they live on, alongside the species that they live among. I know that I write this from the comfort of my bed, in the UK, in a country that is spewing out gases and pollutants, living in a family that has more than one car, that spends money on petrol and diesel and don’t take nearly enough time to think about how I’m affecting the planet. I mean, I get this, I really do, but I don’t want to ignore and claim that the facts of the issue – that global temperatures are increasing – is a lie fed to us by people who want us to ‘lose money’. Nope. I don’t understand that.

Climate change and global warming is real. The facts are there. I’m not saying it is down to one particular factor because I know enough about biology to understand that nothing is that simple. It is a whole host of factors, that we as a species are contributing to, with effects that aren’t great for us as a species, and aren’t great for a lot of the other species that we live with.  And honestly, if your priority is how much money you or your country is making and now with how much we are damaging the planet, you really need to have a check.

 

References in no particular order 

https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf

https://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/upsDownsGlobalWarming.html

https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-sea-surface-temperature

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page3.php

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/146138/100-reasons-why-climate-change-is-natural

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page4.php

And yes, I realise a lot of these are from NASA soz