by Carrie Field
After a difficult couple of years, once again I hit rock bottom. I have many times, due to a traumatic childhood and the unfortunate things that come with such a start in life, but this time I thought I’d really had as much as one can take.
I quit my psychology degree, struggled to go out and when I did, I had panic attacks everywhere. I couldn’t trust anyone anymore, was too poorly to think straight and I had nowhere to turn. Everyone says to reach out, but every branch I grabbed onto snapped, as I was screaming out for help.
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (P.T.S.D.) makes many people’s life a living hell and at the time, I couldn’t handle hell anymore. I had been told I can’t do Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (as I also have borderline personality disorder, relating to trauma) for not being able to go to the video chats, with no aftercare and no follow up. In the same week, I had a 12-hour wait from the crisis team, my local Mental Health team insisted I see. The next day I called Mental Health, and no one returned my call, I felt so lost and alone. Not a day went by, where the thought of ending it, all didn’t haunt me – the pain was just too much.
I understand with the limited funding and how stressed this government has made the NHS, I am not alone in the disservice, but at the time because I was so poorly, I had never felt more alone. The services not being equipped to help me, added to my feelings of being worthless and thoughts of people preferring I was not here. It’s easy to take things personally, when convinced it’s impossible for anyone to care about you.
I had received advocacy support whilst all this had been going on with the charity Mind, as they are the only service which has been in touch since my breakdown. Now more than ever, with a failing government and system, we rely increasingly on non-profit organisations, peer support groups and charities such as Mind. There is help out there, just not always where you expect it.
Upon realising how strained the services were, I knew I had to do, not only for myself and the godsend daughter I fight each day for, but I also thought if I could get well, I could be on the other side helping others – which has always been a goal for me. I had done it before, I could do it again; I have done lots of charity work and volunteering when I have had spells of coping better and it made me feel there was a purpose for my trials and tribulations – I’ll be damned if it were all in vain.
In the past, I had improved my mental health by exercising and being in nature. It stopped my head from spiraling and got into a wiser space long enough to know what I had to do. It took a few days to motivate and feel brave, but one evening I made myself go down the canal, a beauty spot I have frequented many times before. I sat, I thought and thought, feeling more focused as I watched the merging shades of greens in the surrounding trees darken as dusk came, then the dark and I reflected on my life, suddenly I felt more positive than I had in weeks. Finally, the last thing left in Pandora’s box, hope, was back. I just had to look carefully through the darkness into the bottom.
The next day I went out at 8.30 and I stomped and stomped and stomped, I was so excited I skipped breakfast but finally found an open café as I felt sick and faint – remember always take snacks and plenty of water! Coincidentally, I stumbled upon Mind doing 100 miles in October event on Facebook and joined it to keep motivation and help a cause close to my heart. I went to the canal first, then local woods, building up slowly as I couldn’t cope with the people at the train station at first to get to the Peak District.
Sometimes I feel like Forest Gump, I just want to keep going and going to keep my thoughts at bay – some days I walk till my legs or feet hurt. I’m officially starting miles for mind this week, as I banked some hours in September in case my mental health took a turn for the worse.
Personally, I want to do the hundred miles within October, but if I don’t conquer that, anything I do achieve is an achievement. We all have various levels of capability for different things and at Miles for Mind, everyone is a winner. I did find out the hard way not to push myself to much when I had one of my bad days, mentally – on one Sunday, as I exhausted myself on Saturday. (6 miles uphill on the Sat is a hell of a lot for my personal level) You really can have to much of anything and it’s all about finding the balance right for you.
Walking is so good for mental health but can be hard to get started with lack of motivation and going through people or places to get to beauty spots when you have social anxiety from P.T.S.D. or other health issues. Once I managed to break through that barrier, it got addictive. I am now building a bridge into a life worth living, meeting friends in the wonderful Peak District, finding medicinal or culinary herbs and such darn pretty mushrooms. Dipping my feet into the rivers, connecting with mother earth, feeling alive again and remembering the beauty all around us. I start back at university this week too after deferring last year.
If you think you could benefit from some motivation and support to do some nature and walking therapy whilst supporting a great cause, its not too late to start this October’s Miles for Mind. People are very supportive, and you can find them in the online Facebook group above, with a group of supportive people, who have all had mental health issues impact their life in some way. We are raising funds and awareness for Mind.
I have a paper sheet to record miles and sponsors, so although it is really easy to start a Mind fundraising page on Facebook, it isn’t necessary it really is very flexible. Some are rowing, roller-skating, treadmill, swimming, wheelchairs – no discrimination at Miles for Mind! It really is inclusive and flexible, as the main point is raising awareness for mental health issues, which affects each one of us at some point in our lives. I really don’t know where I would be without walking and the beautiful countryside right now. If you join in the fun, will maybe see you in the support group – good luck, we got this!
Editor’s note: If you would like to donate, support or track Carrie’s progress her page is here.