Yesterday, the weather was so lovely that I spontaneously rang Jonathan and asked him to come up to Newcastle to wander around aimlessly in the sun with me. I took some photos I’m really happy with too 🙂 maybe a couple will make it into my next POTW post.
Yesterday was also the first year in longer than I can remember that I didn’t spend the morning of the London marathon glued to the television. Not that I own a television, but I could have watched it on my laptop. For the last two years I’ve blogged about the marathon as well: specifically about the fact that I had a place for it in 2007 and was training hard for it right up until a three month admission to the local psychiatric hospital destroyed my plans. I have run recreationally since I was 14 years old – at times compulsively, although I tried very hard to keep my ED and genuine enjoyment of running separate – but in 2007 I was about as far from any eating disordered motivations as I could have been. I was 22, and before that admission I was in the best shape of my life. A little heavier than I am now, but that was all muscle. I was happy to fuel my workouts properly, and I felt far more attached to and appreciative of my body then than I had done in my teens. It responded to my care and attention by making me stronger and faster. Exercise helped me escape from the crippling depression that eventually had me hospitalised after I hysterically confessed to my CPN my plan not to be available for our next appointment. Means, method, motivation. In hospital the side effects of my medication caused drastic weight loss and muscle weakness, and all the time and effort I had put into training was undone.
In the past, when I’ve blogged about the marathon, I’ve written of tentative plans to run it in the future. It’s my white whale, my unfinished business. In April 2009 I was well aware that I wouldn’t be running it any time soon because I had barely begun to gain weight and was still very unwell, and in April 2010 I had the recent experience of regaining and then losing my period again due to over-enthusiastically exercising far too soon after reaching a nominally healthy weight. I had only just recovered from a fairly serious hamstring injury too, so I didn’t really think I could train hard enough to run in 2011, but I wondered if I would be ready by 2012. It’s not hard to get a charity place, really – raising the sponsorship is another matter entirely, because most charities stipulate that you must raise at least £2000, but I think I could do it. People seem willing to dig deep for the marathon.
This year I am not nearly so sure that this is either what I want, or in my best interests. I hate loose ends, and I hate dropping out. I’ve been forced to by my mental health problems on more occasions than I can count: from the marathon, from my A levels, from university (count ’em: four times. Ugh), even from my random idea to take basic training in learning to ride a motorcycle three years ago. I was longing for independence so much that I didn’t stop to think that a girl who was less than 100lbs soaking wet would probably have trouble keeping a 200lb bike upright, even if it was one of the smaller ones. I actually did okay for the first half of the day, but got tired quickly and had to quit three hours in, after I’d dropped it six times in 30 minutes. I was highly upset because I’d eaten more than usual for lunch, to compensate for the extra energy I was expending that day – and now I wasn’t even going to use it up! I remember my therapist telling me off for quitting. Apparently it didn’t occur to her that I wasn’t well enough to be charging about on motorcycles yet either.
So yes, I hate quitting. It is of the utmost importance to me that I not quit anything now I am healthy unless it is very likely to a) make me crazy or b) kill me. No mental or physical health problems are getting in my way of completing anything and everything I choose to do, okay? Okay. My pride wants me to run the marathon. My self esteem wants me to. My gut instinct that the atmosphere and support and exhilaration on finishing would make it one of the best experiences of my life wants me to. But I’m not sure it fits my criteria of things-I-must-not-quit. With a history of anorexia it might well make me crazy or kill me if I wasn’t careful, or maybe even if I was. And although my palpitations have been much better this week (alcohol was definitely making them a lot worse. Bugger), I worry about them too. My heart is unpredictable but my response to dehydration and exhaustion are not: I am far more sensitive to them than most people, and have an annoying tendency to collapse when other bodies could keep on for hours longer. It’s not a matter of willpower – that’s what gets me in the shit in the first place, the fact that I tend to ignore my body and push on way past my limits. It’s just that, with the palpitations and the low blood pressure and the wonky blood sugar, my limits are a lot closer than those of many other people.
I want to do it but I don’t want to do myself in in the process. It seems unthinkable to me that I will go my whole life without running the London marathon like I planned. But it also scares me, because there are so many things that could go wrong: falling victim to compulsive exercising again, pushing my blood pressure even lower, randomly dropping dead in the middle of a training run, being looked down on by other bloggers who think that recovered anorexics should sit on their butts and eat cake all day every day to avoid being labelled “still sick, in denial, bad influence”. Three years of recovery and two years of weight restoration: would that enough for me to run the marathon in 2012, given that it was a goal of mine when I was healthy? Or would 2013 be better? Or never?
I don’t know. I hate not knowing. Where’s my easy answer?!