Mental illness and running

I wanted a place where we could get advice and support.

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05/07/2011 at 00:40
Blimey SOLB! I'm pretty new so just reading bits here and there but this thread caught my eye because beating the blues was my reason for starting running too and I can totally relate to why you need to run. I am pretty sure I had PND after my second but I think it's something you never know at the time. I am just so grateful that I found running because it has transformed my life.

I am so sorry about your heart problems and hope it is something that can be helped.

And bloody well done on the Marathon - I have just done a half and loved it but a whole one! Amazing! To do one in the best of health blows my mind never mind what you have been contending with!

Personally, I'd say don't worry about work; get out and beat those demons!
Edited: 05/07/2011 at 00:41
05/07/2011 at 01:06
Welcome Happychick (I love your name)

Your post made me smile, it's impossible to really explain the transformation isn't it? You want to share it but even though you think you'll explode with the enthusiasm you can never quite get the passion across. (well that's how I feel anyway)

I'm so sorry that you had to fight with the blues but delighted that running helped you too. It's just incredible.

I'm sure the heart problem can be fixed it's just a question of shuffling onto the right waiting list!

Thanks for the congrats on the marathon; I forget that it was an achievement in itself. Like most people who suffer from mental illness I find it far too easy to disregard, belittle or ignore my own achievements whilst blowing the failures up beyond all proportion.

I didn't run in the end today, truthfully though it was as much laziness as anything else. Can't wait for this ill phase to be over so I can get back to living again.

I have a psychiatric appointment tomorrow so hopefully that will help.

I'm glad you posted
05/07/2011 at 21:11
Lol my name is because of my chickens and because I do try to be positive. (when I am not beating myself up, of course!) It also came about after my first pregnancy and birth when I seemed to have a huge surge of happy hormones.

Ah the virtues of running! I can't agree enough and I have to confess to bring a complete running bore if I get started! But in my defence I have converted a few, including my husband so I don't feel too bad.

I have recently started swimming too (another thing I have hated all my life!) and I love it too. We particularly love outdoor swimming and our two year old (youngest) had her first go the other day and was amazing! I am hoping our two get an active life bug pretty early on. it seems to be working.

It is sometimes hard to get out there though even though, you love it. I struggled today despite being a bit slack since the half but did it eventually. It was pretty short but I found it tough! The great thing is I know know that if I miss a go, I can always go the next day etc. and eventually I set myself a goal and just go for it. I'm pretty determined when I want to be and it sounds like you are too - just a little! I mean doing and finishing a marathon when you had the news you had is damned determined! Go girl!

Good look tomorrow!
05/07/2011 at 21:24

SOLB I can't give a medical opinion but I am a physio currently working with people post heart-ops like valve replacements.  I can't comment on your specific situation but it's very much the norm to have a structured programme to build up your exercise level after the op. Once your op comes up make sure you get referred onto it and get plenty of advice from the physio team.  Google Cardiac Rehabilitation if you want to read more on it.

Any idea which hospital will be doing the op?

06/07/2011 at 16:55
Happychick Congrats on the conversions

I love your approach to missing a session - I think I sometimes need to remember that there will be a tomorrow (in moderation of course don't want to always be looking to run tomorrow)

Congrats on getting out for your run - I think those training runs that you had to force yourself to do are more worthy of congratulations than the big adrenaline fuelled event!

XFR Bear thanks; good to hear that there's such a strong focus on getting back to real life after the surgery. feeling happier about that.

I hope it won't take too long to get back to my normal fitness level after the op.

I'm not sure about the op; I've been seeing the cardiology team at Salisbury District hospital so my guess is the surgery will be either Salisbury or Southampton.
06/07/2011 at 17:51

SOLB, I had 6 months off this year having contracted viral myocarditis - I couldn't even sit at the computer without being breathless.

If you've got valve problems, based on my own  experience, it's really not worth pushing it.  Spend your time getting the operation sorted out, then look at recuperation.  There are some good websites out there and the BHF has some good info / contacts re exercise.

I also do HR training - proved invaluable in helping me not only identify the problem but provided the cardiologist with reams of evidence without necessitating stress test.  You might want to consider HR training for a number of reasons, not least the obvious, as it recommends slower runs at recovery (easy) pace rather than a lot of "bust-a-gut" stuff, which, following cardiac surgery, may not be recommended.

PS I saw my team more locally, but they're based out of Southampton - which has a good reputation I believe.

Edited: 06/07/2011 at 17:51
07/07/2011 at 00:05
It'd be easier if I knew when the operation is going to be; even if it is months at least it wouldn't feel quite so hopeless.

However that said, six months, poor you Jeepers that must have been really hard. I just Googled viral myocarditis it sounds awful. Very pleased you're better now.

I have a heart rate watch which my aunt kindly bought me but I'm a bit worried about using is because I need to do a sprinty time session to work out my threshold and I'm not sure if my heart would enjoy that much.

I have a meeting with my doc next week so am going to try to get her to talk about the exercise stuff too.

It's really easy for the whole consultation to get swallowed up by the mental health problems but the physical stuff is contributing more than I thought it would to me feeling sad and hopeless. I think the hallucinations are finally back under control now though PHEW!

I went to the gym tonight - fairly horrible session ... I know I should admit defeat but I just don't seem to be able to.
07/07/2011 at 05:57

I really think that you should accept your current limitations and work with those.  Keep exercising, but at an appropriate rate rather than pushing yourself.  I was in my taper for a mara when I first noticed my symptoms and I was determined not to let them stop me racing, but in the end, I had no choice. 

It's not defeat, it's just pragmatism.  Far better that you continue exercising at an appropriate level than you push yourself to a point that might have more serious consequences for your health.  You are going to have the operation, so you will get better.  The reason that you are struggling is because you are ill, not unfit.

I started running 5 years ago, since then, I've probably spent more time off my feet than on and have yet to complete an entire year of training.  It's all due to circumstances beyond my control and ironically, none of which has had anything to do with running. However, I see running as something long-term, so when things are going well, I make the most of them, when the brown stuff hits the fan, I just accept it, adapt my training if I can, then look to pick up again whenever - even in this case, starting back pretty much at scratch.

I really think that it would be better for you physically and psychologically if you could keep exercising but in a way that doesn't leave you struggling, out of breath and feeling that it was a "horrible session". 

But keep pushing on the operation, I had no end of prejudice being female - was even told "If you'd been a man, you'd have been admitted to hospital immediately."

07/07/2011 at 15:33
That last comment was enlightening Jeepers; I saw the registrar and consultant cardiologists initially and they were really eager to get my heart stable so I could run again. The registrar even came in early one morning so he could run some tests.
Since then it's dropped to the ordinary cardiology team, they don't see not being able to run/exercise as a problem at all. It's like they established I wouldn't drop down dead of a heart attack and now they don't care at all above that.
As suggested earlier in the thread I did (through floods of tears) explain the effect that not being able to run is having on my mental health to the psychologist. She is writing to my GP to explain the link between exercise and control of the mental health issues. Hopefully that will help them to take it more seriously.
I don't actually want them to bump it up the list - it's not emergency surgery nor should it be treated as such I just want to know what's going on. I need some clear advice about what I can and cannot do.
Until then Jeepers you're right; no more beasting sessions in an attempt to feel less unfit. It doesn't work, it hurts and it might be hurting my long term fitness too. You're right running is a long term game - I'm glad you mentioned that you've spent more time off your feet than on; that's exactly how I feel but while you've managed to find an acceptance for it I've been using is as a stick to beat myself with.

AND BREATHE SOLB
07/07/2011 at 15:47

Talk to the British Heart Foundation - I got great advice from them.  I had a particularly stupid and useless GP who diagnosed my problems as asthma, in spite of all the evidence to back up my feelings that it was cardiac related.  I even passed out in the surgery, due to lack of oxygen, having walked into the surgery.  He explained that as "nerves".

This website is particularly useful too - it was suggested to me by some of the forumites who have had cardiac problems.

Edited: 07/07/2011 at 15:51
07/07/2011 at 15:57
WOW SNAP!!
That was my initial diagnosis too - it wasn't until the cardiology team intervened (because they discovered a heart defect in my identical twin sister 2 days before I ran the marathon) that cardiac issues were considered at all.
I had exactly the same thing with passing out in surgery and elsewhere, had to be 'anxiety.'
It took me 3 GP's appointments to get them to check the breathlessness out even to the incorrect asthma diagnosis stage as they all decided it was anxiety despite me telling them that running was the time I was least anxious.
Thanks for the links; I'll pop the kettle on and have a look, cuppa anyone?
07/07/2011 at 17:07

I had the same, when I showed him my HR recordings for my runs, including @ 10+m into the run (when HRs were off the scale) he just argued that I was "anxious" which was making my HR go up by 20  - 30+bpm, my fingers go an odd colour and causing the chest pain and breathlessness.

He is not a runner, so I explained to him that I do not get anxious about running, quite the opposite, it is relaxing and I certainly don't get anxious mid-run.

I ended up in A+E over Christmas (999 jobbie).  It was the (female) nurse who agreed with me that it was more likely to be cardiac, she suggested myocarditis and to push my GP for an appointment.  The GP didn't do his bit and it was eventually a female radiologist who happened to answer my call (in desperation to the hospital) who took pity on me and scheduled an appointment.  Coincidentally, she conducted the scan, concurred with the myocarditis diagnosis and showed me the evidence on the screen.

Mentioned it to the GP's surgery - who closed ranks.  According to them, it was more sensible to rule something (asthma) out before ruling something in - regardless of the wasted time.  Anyhow, did the asthma / lung tests to discover that I've got the lung capacity of someone 30 years younger than me.  As if I couldn't have told them that.

Edited: 07/07/2011 at 17:08
07/07/2011 at 21:09
Hmm guess the stigma of MH does branch out a little even if it is inadvertent.

After the first incident (which manifested in a really similar way to yours breathlessness/blue fingernails/nausea etc) I called the duty doc who said there was no need for me to come in.

Perhaps once you have mental health problems showing in your notes its harder to get anyone to consider physical problems
09/07/2011 at 16:36
Does any one have any safe non-exercise related coping strategies they can share?
25/07/2011 at 21:42
I've had the hardest few weeks ever but I feel much more positive now after two good days - I think the episode is over

(Sorry for waking up the thread but I'm so relieved I just wanted to say something)
26/07/2011 at 23:44

Actually thanks for waking up this thread, I wouldn't have read it otherwise! It's a really interesting thread, thank you for your honesty SOLB! You're very courageous. I'm glad to hear you're feeling more positive.

I'm concerned that two people have that their GPs said that they had fainted due to "anxiety", because you can't faint due to anxiety unless it's a blood phobia. How much are GPs being aid these days...?

27/07/2011 at 01:07
Hello Ben-o

Glad you popped in *insert cheery little welcome dance here*

I quite like the chance to be honest. I spend my whole life answering 'good thanks, how about you?' it's quite nice to be able to say actually things are really hard.

I really do feel more positive. It's a bit odd I've still got the crisis team hanging off me like limpets and I feel quite happy. Very surreal.

Interesting to hear you can't faint from anxiety, I didn't know that. My doctor has finally got round to actually looking at the results for my blood tests over the last 6 months and has discovered that my blood sugar is always too low (between 2-3 if that means anything to you) - I'm going to attempt another short run but with the glucose gels left over from the marathon. It'd be calorie neutral but I'd feel so much better if I could tell the voices to SHUT UP (Not admitting to all the other swear words) then run off and leave the lazy cretins behind. Perhaps if we sort out the dizziness I can fight the breathlessness if I keep it slow and steady and stay near home - I live in hope

Oh dear I'm just waffling on now - time for bed.

How are you?

*Yawn* Take care,
28/07/2011 at 23:56

Evening SOLB,

It is interesting that when people ask how you are, they don't really want the truth and we're brought up to not be that honest really. I don't mean you specifically, just everyone.

I don't know much about blood sugar levels, apart from I like eating and reducing my sugar intake helped me massively. Feeling dizzy can be a sign of anxiety (along with others) but your body won't collapse when you're more alert and full of adrenaline! Maybe they don't teach this basic thing to GPs...

I also waffle it seems, but the Dalai Lama tells me to be non-jugement (not personally, though that would be amazing!).

Hope you're well and not running too hard!

Edited: 29/07/2011 at 00:01
29/07/2011 at 00:58
Ah but I did mean it Ben-o; I wondered whether you knew someone with a mental illness or suffered from one yourself and if that was why you wrote.
It's unusual for people to voluntarily engage in a conversation with someone they know hears voices etc. Generally because it's awkward and they don't know what to say rather than because they are disgusted although there's a certain amount of fear too.
I'm intrigued and a little concerned that you might be feeling low. I know if I am feeling low I get drawn to sites about mental illness etc, I'm not sure what I'm looking for just not to feel as isolated and alone I guess.
So I'll pose the question again and hope you can see it's genuine; how are you Ben-o?
I would indeed be impressed if the Dalai Lama had been speaking to you (but even I'm not that delusional!)
Upping my sugar level didn't prevent the fainting so I guess I'll just have to wait for the heart problem to get better before I run.
How about you? Are you running much? Training for anything? (yea I am nosey!)
29/07/2011 at 19:15

In that case...I'm good thank you. I'm looking forward to a weekend of seeing friends and running 18 miles (which I'm a little apprehensive about). I'm currently training for the Liverpool marathon, did 10 miles last night which felt pretty good.

I'm fairly sure you're a person first and the hearing voices is just something that makes you unique (I have an out-y belly button). To be honest, I love listening to people's experiences and how they've outcome them, I think they're really inspiration. Also I don't believe reality is a fixed absolute but something that each of us creates with those around us. (I've just re-read those sentences and I sound both patronising and pretentious, I win!)

Hope you're well and feeling positive.

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