Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Guest blog by Matt: Why I run for anxiety and dyspraxia

Following on from Matt's blog post last year he wanted to write a follow on blog and maybe a little bit more in depth about himself and why he's decided to take up running 4 challenges this year for charities close to our hearts. Even though writing is hard for me it's even harder for Matt, so his writing still will be different to mine. I best stop writing and hand you over to Matt.

Due to my quiet nature, and keeping myself to myself, people don't get get to know a lot about me and my anxiety, confidence issues, or the background to why Rosie and I choose to do what we do. Although taking on a single 10k event in a year is a lot of anyone, I decided to take up four in 2017.

Last year, I decided to challenge myself, I signed up to do four 10k events. The London 10k, British 10k, Great Newham Run and Parallel London 10k. Again with very little work, just the odd gym trip when I could be bothered, I did the London 10k, it didn't really go to plan, although I finished I finished with an awful pain in my right knee, I had never experienced it before, Rosie was going to meet me after the event for some food, but due to my pain I managed to hobble back from the finish to Victoria and back home, we had some food closer to home, and when I got back I was unable to move for several days. A little over 5 weeks later, I ran the British 10k, after 5k my knee went again, I did manage to finish the race, very slowly, but looking back I probably put myself under too much pressure to finish, it was a charity event, but no-one would have minded if I pulled out, and I really should have done. I pulled out of the Newham 10k which was the following week, and didn't run again until late 2016. I did walk the Parallel event in September, but dropped down to 5k.

Mentally this was my tipping point, and talking with Rosie, it was clear that I was running for others rather than myself, obviously trying to raise money and awareness for charity, but by raising this I was putting myself at risk, which isn't really the point, as what awareness are you creating if you are hurting yourself in the process. It isn't fair on yourself, both mentally and physically, changes had to be made.

 I decided to stop the gym and join the ParkRun setup. I decided to make Crystal Palace Parkrun as my local run, which I have since found out is one of the most hilly and difficult Parkruns in London, and often take part in the Burnley Parkrun (which is a lot flatter!) when visiting Rosie's parents. But I've kept persevering and finished the Manchester 10k with a sense of achievement. But I will always help others.

Both myself and Rosie find being centre of attention and putting all eyes on us especially socially and in social situations. Before I met Rosie I was already aware of  her love of Mollie King, her quirkyness and the anxiety/social anxiety struggles she had faced growing up she had no idea she had anxiety until adulthood which is one of the reasons why  we wanted to do this challenge. In Rosie's previous blogs she has discussed about her life growing up and some of the challenges her and her parents faced but there are also some more difficult and private experiences which never have made the blog. She was always a wise soul and a had worked very hard at uni to achieve her degree and then masters when. She took on a role as mother hen to some of the younger people we know not wanting them to go through what she had. A few years ago after Rosie's mental health hit rock bottom due to workplace bullying what happened will stay private between us for now she decided after she needed professional help she didn't want others to feel or go through what she had alone.

Awareness work, both mental health and dyspraxia, and helping others gave both of us a purpose in life and alongside therapy probably saved her life. Anxiety  and social anxiety and her confidence/self esteem are still a struggle and it's an on going journey for both of us but through seeking therapy it will hopefully help her in her own time in her own way.  It's also made her a listener, social anxiety makes bringing her walls down, and being with new people and social situations hard but also sending/writing messages to people. But it's made her determined and one of the strongest people I know and have a lot more empathy and understanding for others.

This determination has inspired me and which is why I am running 4 events this year, and Rosie is joining me in a couple too, to importantly raise awareness for mental health conditions by running for AnxietyUK. A charity both me and Rosie have connections with and have helped Rosie with her mental health issues  and the Dyspraxia Foundation whom I am lucky enough to be a trustee for and have supported Rosie and her parents for many, many years too! Getting more people to understand what dyspraxia is and raising awareness of difficulties and disabilities invisible to the eye.

Everyone is different in life and has their own story and deals with their life experiences differently there's no right or wrong way. On Sunday I got to observe Manchester coming together in what had been a horrific time for the city. Being part of 30,000+ runners in Manchester was a magnificent moment, and something I was proud to have taken part in! If you want to keep up-to-date with our 2017 challenge please check out https://www.justgiving.com/teams/MattRosie17 

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