18.5k of mermaidness…ooops, I mean madness…

18.5k of mermaidness…ooops, I mean madness…

Oh wow – or, really, oh dear – it’s been a fair old while since I last posted! I could say that hmm, I’ve been super-busy, or I’ve run out of things to say (yeah right…) – or I could just tell the truth: depression has really kicked its heels in. Meh. I was dragged out to see a film yesterday and – apart from one brief visit to a shop nearby – it was the first time I’ve been out for about two weeks. This isn’t in my nature: I love being outside, I prefer fresh, outdoors air – I’m an outdoorsy sort of person. Well, at least I thought I was.

To be pretty blunt, depression never really went away at all, and my stupid social anxiety is dreadful – I’m being stymied by myself. The last eighteen months have been a blimmin’ struggle and things seem to have worsened this summer. I can attribute this partly to the end of the therapy that I’d been having, but it’s also because I lack any purpose in life – and I can’t find much meaning in life either. I was also going to say there’s little enjoyment, but I do giggle at a few things: comedy and some of the daft, daffy wee things that occur now and again. I read a few other blogs that focus on mental health and anxiety, and I’m always left wondering how the bloggers find the energy and oomph actually to maintain their blogs and write. Most of the time I’m in a heavy fog and find it difficult to get going at all. This is from a person who used to do 15hours of exercise alongside work each week, despite having depression and anxiety even then.

After the 140.6 and the smaller triathlon a week later (oooh! Photo opportunity here, I reckon! Quite pleased to note that my bike’s one of the first back in this pic…my smugness rapidly disappeared on the run itself tho’!). It also seems that I have a bike up my backside…

I had another event planned (to try to stave off the relentless bleakness). A few weeks ago, I did another endurance swim, this time it was 18.5k. It took place in a lake, and I’m still kicking myself for stopping at that point (I had 15 minutes left…I know there was little chance of completing another kilometre, but…eurgh. Very miffed with self.). The event was later in the day (not good. Not good at all) and it wasn’t as hugely busy as I’d feared, but I just didn’t feel the love. I tried to focus on the beautiful water, the wildlife – including swans who didn’t look overly impressed at our presence! – the changing sky) and the fact that I’m lucky enough to have a body and limbs that enable me to participate in such events.

I also really, really tried to remember a Level 42 song that kept me going during the 140.6 swim…don’t laugh at my choice in music now, I mean, my mini running soundtrack veers from Abba to XTC via Bauhaus, Doves, ELO, Eminem, Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, Paul Weller, Portishead, Radiohead, Tears for Fears, and U2. Oh, and a bit of Ed Reardon and John Finnemore…alongside Tina Turner and Nancy Sinatra.

Blimey, you’re still here?…thank you for persevering! I could not grab hold of the elusive snippets of the soothing, much-loved Mark King et al-esque tune that lurked at the back of my mind. Instead, I was treated to Boney M (oh, thanks for that one) and – at least I think it was – Yazz. Showing my ageing years there (I should emphasise the point that I never, repeat NEVER liked Yazz)…anyway, I was slowly losing my mind! And I started to lose circulation pretty swiftly, despite my best efforts. And, also despite my best efforts, I chafed badly around my neck (quite grrrr-y about this as I consider myself to be quite the expert on how to avoid chafeyness), lots of blood and pain were happening.

oooh, this is where the chafing begins…just as well it’s fresh water, not salt…!

And my arms failed me: my right arm went dead, resulting in a very strange swimming style after only 9k or so – the pull phase of the stroke was virtually non-existent on my right side. And both of my elbows were screaming in pain. I’ve experienced neither of these problems in other endurance swims…grrrr, to say the least. I managed to avoid any cramps, thank goodness – I’ll never forget the chap who swam across me repeatedly during the Dart10k (heaven knows where he eventually ended up). I finally had enough, stopped swimming and swore violently at him (to no avail!) – this resulted only in me then having cramp for the rest of the swim, which was about 7k… I’m now careful about my electrolytes generally, but especially so in the lead-up to an event, plus I wear calf guards – when possible – for long swims. Not sure about the evidence base for them but hey, they seem to work for me!

Because my hands were seizing up, and my back was also giving up, I decided to get 6k in then exit the water briefly. I must learn not to stop and loiter at feed stations/water stops etc! Although the organisers were a bit concerned about my shivering and blue hands and lips (normal for me when swimming in open water, I’m afraid. My only solution, clearly, is to move to more tropical climes!). When I was swimming in the sea on a far more frequent basis (a few years ago), I tried to acclimatise myself by having cold showers and baths. This did work, but not much: I could only stay in the water in the winter for about 15 minutes before I started to become really quite unwell.

Ah! My ‘crocodile eyes’ position…sighting

This is one of my pet peeves(!): that some of the skins swimmers who refuse to talk to me because I wear a wetsuit just don’t understand that I have Raynauds and just cannot swim for long in only a swimming cossie. I’d love to swim sans neoprene but I’d be heading swiftly down hypothermia avenue (as has happened, unfortunately) if I did this. I doubt any of these swimmers will be reading this, but – just in case – I still think you’re very rude and arrogant. And I don’t need people like you in my life. So there!

Back to the swim. I kept plodding on, exiting the water at 4 and 3k intervals. One fab thing was that I did eat – ah, those joyous Nature Valley ‘Sweet & Salty Nut’ bars, sheer bliss…always! Yes, it was only a teeny bite here and there, but I experienced a distinct lack of reflux afterwards in the water. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

A spectator’s guide to counting laps…

Time’s winged chariot hurried near (apologies, Mr M), the light was fading rapidly and I realised that it would be foolish and futile to attempt another lap (only whole laps were included), especially as I was in trouble with my arm and elbows, so I faffed around in the water for a bit, then made my final exit.

Oh, how easy that makes it sound…never one for being graceful out of water at the best of times (my exit out of an E-Type has to be seen to be believed), my exit here was laboured, shall we say. Weirdly, this is probably the best giggle of the day though – I just couldn’t stand up properly!

I’m a-gonna overtake you (well, I better had!)

I felt an absolute sense of anti-climax after the swim, and I changed by the car and we whizzed off back to the hotel – I didn’t want to stick around any longer, I’d had enough of it all and felt a huge failure and like an outsider. and this feeling still hasn’t disappeared. Even though I’d told myself that my goal was to beat my previous best of 14k, I still berate myself for not getting up to 19k. If only I hadn’t loitered at that penultimate exit…it wasn’t really helped by a close relative’s first comment being, “Yes, but did you win?”. Nor, a few days later, by one of my closest friends (not that I have many!) utterly dismissing the entire achievement, poo-pooing it and swiftly changing the subject (someone else had mentioned it, I should add). Obviously I shouldn’t be seeking approval from others…but it would be nice to have someone go, “Oh wow!”…or something similar! My partner was a great support during the day and he was/is so proud of me…but those negative comments and reactions do undermine the positive ones – a real negativity bias, eh? I already felt flat, and it was a struggle to feel that I had achieved anything of worth…I still don’t feel that I’ve done anything of worth.

2 thoughts on “18.5k of mermaidness…ooops, I mean madness…

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, Alex! I think it can be all too easy to feel alone in our thoughts and troubles, so thank you too for your comment – you’ve helped me to feel less isolated, and I hope my words continue to be of some reassurance to you 🙂

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