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Quite simply how I  feel right about now. Not in the greatest of moods and haven't been for weeks now. Lack of sleep, gaining weight, lack of activity, poor breathing due to hayfever... You name it, it's pissing me off!

My complete lack of interest in most things, and lack of motivation to do anything about the weight is probably the biggest tell for me right now. Robotic routine, no trainer or treadmill work, blaming it on "trying to stay fresh for Amsterdam", I got it all going on. 

I am not going to say it is a slump as such, generally I am OK, but I just know I could be doing so much more. Miles are not racking up like they did last year on the bike, but that isn't a terrible thing, far from it in fact. I suppose the start of the year was all a bit full on, and if I am totally honest, I don't think the time I had off, following my original planned break, was really enough. But the demand of the routine made it so I needed to get back to work ASAP. No ones fault but my own in reality. 

Sitting here slumped on the sofa writing this, looking back at the day that has just happened, and trying to decide if it was a worthwhile day, or all a bit of a wasted blur. I got the bike serviced ready for Amsterdam, so that is something, then drove to work, had my mind numbed for six hours before the drive home.

Actually, thinking while I type (like I do), I think that is probably a big chunk of the issue. Spending way too much time in a car, especially commuting, and not spending enough time releasing endorphins while cycling to and from work. Last year, weather was less of an excuse, and miles were my motivation. This year, the total opposite, but not because I am against cycling. Just for some reason,  don't find myself cycling as much as I probably could. Instead I sit in traffic, being pissed off by selfish twats, and impatient wankers, when I could calmly be sailing by on the bike, and getting some exercise too.

That's it! When I get back from Amsterdam, I need to pull my finger out, then see how I feel a few weeks later. I reckon if I read back through this in August I will wonder WTF I was doing for the earlier part of the year, driving my mind into the ground like this.

In the meantime, I need to get my arse in gear, only a few days left now til we set off for Amsterdam. OK, honestly, that is really playing on my mind too, really struggling with the concept of being stuck with people, possibly sharing a room, and being around pissed people!! Urrrgh!!  

I thought I had been making progress recently with being around people, but the more I think about it, the more anxious I get. A slight spiral there, one I am aware of but can't do anything about. Really the only thing that keeps me chipper about the whole thing is being with a few new friends I have made over the past few months, on the Facebook page, and on training rides together. Fingers crossed that will be enough to distract me, and allow me to crack on with the task at hand, and get to Amsterdam in one piece, physically and mentally. A week off work, well there is a nice thought if nothing else eh!

As I said from the start of the idea of riding London to Amsterdam, while I am doing it for a great cause, I am also doing it for my own mental health, and pushing myself into something I am not completely comfortable with, in the aim of broadening my horizons a  bit. As the day draws closer, I question my decision, but try and keep in mind that there is an end goal, and hopefully a good one. 

Just a couple of days left to get through til work is done for the week. Then I have a few days of respite, to get my head straight and all packed and ready to go. I can do this, I know I can. Just got to convince the depths of my brain that I can now. 

The clock is ticking down on my next session at the Royal College of General Practitioners on Friday, and I have to say the suspense and stress is building. It will be my second rush-hour trip to Central London in the week, which never bodes well with me even at the best of times.

The first session I did was a real eye opener, and while it was fun, it was quite draining too. That was starting from a nice high spot in my mental cycle. This time around I am somewhat lower than I was before, so it will be interesting to see what impact that has. Whatever the cost to me, the important thing is being able to help the students understand the presentation of anxiety and depression.

On the plus side, the whole day is a known thing now, it is not full of surprises and uncertainty, so that will help enormously I am sure. I will just get there nice and early again, missing the majority of the morning rush, and have a little wind down walk before getting started.

I will have to put some thought into the scenario for this time too. I am quite happy with the original, but it is good to mix things up a bit. As much for my sanity as theirs. Really is quite draining mentally, recalling events from your life, and playing them out in a scenario over and over for a day. By the end of the day you are mentally exhausted. I kind of envy the actors who also participate in these events. Surely it is much easier to pretend to suffer with something you don't already struggle with. Maybe I am wrong, who knows.

Either way, as I say, the main thing is the students come away from it all with a better understanding. I really do want to have more time to answer questions, and help in any way I can. With so much work being done to raise awareness of mental health issues, it is only right to make sure it can be identified and caught nice and early, so help can be given before the issue worsens for the patient.

Which reminds me actually, I have got to read back through my emails, and do a submission to the BMJ as suggested by Niki. It may come to nothing, it may be the beginnings of being able to do something more positive, time will tell. Not like I don't like writing now is it!

Right, better get my head in gear and thinking cap on, ready for the (next) big day.

Thanks for reading.

PS, students, you can now find all my MH writings on my new website www.snazy.co.uk (if you are not already reading this entry there)

I guess the time of year doesn't help much with things, and a lot of people are heading in the same direction right now. Back down the rabbit hole in preparation for the short days, more time spent in darkness, and the gloominess of winter. Not to mention the stresses and strains associated with the "festive season".

So at least if nothing else, I don't feel surprised or alone as I pace in circles at the entrance to the rabbit hole.

Lots going on in life as usual for me, some putting a little extra strain on my mind, other self inflicted things weighing heavily on me both physically and mentally. At the start of the year, setting myself a realistic distance goal on the bike was a good idea. However as the year has progressed, the self imposed stresses have started to show through. Passing my preset goal much earlier than expected led me to aim higher, and higher... To the point where although officially I have passed my goals massively, I am still coaxing myself to push harder. Physically it's taken its toll, mentally I am starting to beat myself up a bit to achieve every mini-goal I have set since then.

Mid way through the year I had the energy and get up and go to do some running too, but soon realised I was spreading myself a bit thin. That said, I had avoided injury up until this point, so it made sense to back off from the running, and focus on wellness and the initial goals. Now later in the year, I am missing running, but lacking the energy to run too. So I am really looking forward to the new year, and new beginnings. Less riding, more running, more stretching, and more about looking after myself, rather than beating the hell out of myself day in day out.

Physical battering aside, my mind is starting to feel the strain of day to day life. Getting up later, having less energy or inclination to do anything other than what is officially on my agenda. Things that need doing can wait, non urgent things can just be forgotten about. Even getting out of bed for trainer rides in the morning is becoming a bit of a chore. Sleep is shocking, with about 45 mins a night of deep sleep. Only the first hour of sleep I get nightly seems to be worth it. Once I have woken at 1-2am, I may as well get up, as it is all downhill from there on.

Nothing is on my mind really. Life is busy, has it's challenges, and a few boulders have been thrown in the road recently, but in general, life is good. A far cry to years gone by where I would have struggled to tell you anything positive about my life. But still I find myself loitering at the entrance to the damn rabbit hole.

Focus is needed, a reboot too, and hopefully that is what the time off over Xmas, the trip to Wales, and the start of a new year will give me. Time and space to hit the reset, recharge a little, and get to grips with what I need to do to get the right results for myself for 2019.

A few ideas, some new goals, a new project or two. All sounds good, now I just need to put pen to paper, draw up the proper plans.

One of the key things for me is physical well-being. I know my body has taken a bit of a beating this year, so next year will be different. More running, or should that just be running, given how little I have done this year. A focus on stretching, recovery, and maintenance is also on the cards, with a return to yoga, and getting muscles like my Psoas recovered and back to full flexibility. Pain pain go away!

On top of that, I want to get back to a daily morning routine, be it floor, gym, HIIT or bike trainer. I remember back to the days of my first round of P90X, and remember feeling supercharged every day. Starting out with some physical activity is really a great way to get the body and mind into the right place. And I think that is the balance I am looking for here.

Physical activity equates to a stronger mind. Be it the endorphins released from the buzz of the training, to the positive feelings and state of mind from being active, and feeling good about yourself. For me it works a treat, so as we progress back towards Spring 2019, I want to arrive fresh, and fully charged in both mind and body.

Until then I just need to make sure I check in with myself regularly, and stay on the level. I know I am vulnerable, but I also know I can stay in control, and do what is needed to stay out of that rabbit hole this year.

I know there are others out there circling too, and would urge them to stay positive, keep active, don't lock those feelings away, and make sure you speak to someone (or the internet like me). Bringing all the thoughts to forefront of your mind, and processing them openly is a great way to rationalise what you are feeling, and breaking the cycle of doom and gloom which shows its face so quickly at times like this.

Take care all 🙂