All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge: Day 10

Today’s prompt in the 30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge asks
How do you feel about your scars?

I mentioned in an earlier post that I feel fairly ambivalent toward my scars. I neither like them nor dislike them. They are just part of who I am. Some are more visible than others whilst others are probably only visible to me because I know where to look. Given that I also suffer from body image issues, some might think that my scars should be things that I dislike about my body, but there are far more things to despise about myself than a few scars (a bit of shoulder hair, belly and lack of defined muscles immediately spring to mind!)

In fact, when I view my scars I see them as some would see their tattoos; they are reminders of a time/place in my life when I was feeling something specific and had only one option to treat the emotional pain I was feeling. They are markers of significant moments in my life that serve as a reminder of who I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going.


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My Sister and Me: Anorexia Nervosa

Last year, a psychiatrist informed me that when I was twelve years old I should have understood the complexities of my sister’s mental illness, and thus it was my fault I allowed it to affect me the way it did.

I should have known that when she was screaming at me to fuck off and die it was her mental illness.

I should have known that when she refused to be in the same room as me it was her mental illness.

I should have known that when she was throwing a rock at my head it was her mental illness.

You know, when I was twelve.

Even though no-one really explained to me what was happening other than ‘Kathryn was unwell’.

Even though in the early 1990s discussion of mental illness just didn’t happen.

Even though I’d never even heard the term anorexia nervosa let alone know of how it affects someone.

But hey, I should totally have understood what was happening!

You know, when I was twelve.

So, for everyone under the age of twelve years old, here is a brief explainer of anorexia nervosa. Everyone else can just skip ahead, because according to a psychiatrist you should already know all there is to know about anorexia nervosa and how it affects someone.

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by severe starvation and dramatic weight loss. People suffering from anorexia nervosa develop an intense fear of gaining weight and often experience high body image distortion, mistakenly believing that they are overweight no matter how underweight they actually are.

Physical warning signs of anorexia include: noticeable thinness and continued loss of weight, obsessive exercise, losing or thinning of hair and cessation of periods. Whilst behavioral and psychological warning signs include: wearing big or baggy clothes, making excuses to avoid meal times, obsessive measuring of body parts and weight checking.

~ For more comprehensive information on anorexia and eating disorders please see The Butterfly Foundation ~

Part 2: Anorexia Nervosa, cause and effect

“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.”
~ Laurie Halse Anderson ~

Kathryn received an official multiple diagnosis of anorexia nervosa and obsessive compulsive disorder at the age of twelve. This diagnosis was made by psychiatrists at Great Ormond Street Hospital after my sister had been admitted to a local psychiatric children’s unit. At the time it was rare for someone so young to be diagnosed with this illness, especially as it had begun to manifest at the age of nine.

At the worst of her illness my sister’s weight was 4 stone. For those not familiar with this measurement, four stone is around 25kg (or 56 pounds). This was also her target weight, with a number of her OCD rituals having to occur in groups of four (twisting the door handle four times, opening and closing the door four times etc.) which she felt would assist in her reaching this goal weight.

My memories of this early period of my sister’s illness are few and far between, and what memories remain are on the negative end of the spectrum. I have often mentioned how I believe this period to have had an impact on the development of my own illnesses (especially the anxiety and self-harm) but like the psychiatrist said, this is impossible.

As my sister’s anorexia developed it became impossible for me to be in the same vicinity as her. If I entered a room that she was in she’d become uncomfortable and resort to screaming at me to leave. Similarly, if she entered a room I was in the reaction was much the same. She wouldn’t talk to me, she couldn’t cope with me talking to her and physical contact was an absolute no-go under any circumstance, including surface contact (e.g. if I had just opened a door she wouldn’t be able to open it until someone else had.)

The reason behind all of this was because I was overweight and she had decided my fat was contagious. Or rather her illness had decided.

When it came to going to Great Ormond Street Hospital I had to spend the night at my Aunt and Uncles who then drove me to London separately from sister as it would have been impossible for us to be in the same car.

On another occasion, when my parents took me to visit my sister at the psychiatric unit, Kathryn threw a stone at me as she was unaware they were bringing me along and wanted me to fuck off.

Whilst the verbal abuse still rings in my ears, especially the occasion she told me she wished I would just fuck off and die.

And writing all this back I find it completely reasonable that a twelve-year-old boy with no knowledge of mental health issues should have understood what was going on. I am of course being sarcastic. For even though specific memories of those years have been blocked, I can still remember the utter isolation, confusion and pain I felt as a result of how my sister was treating me.

She was my sister. I loved her. I was worried about her. I wanted her to be well. I wanted to help her.

I didn’t understand what was happening and why she was treating me like this. How could I have known?

After her diagnosis Kathryn remained at the local children’s unit with the psychiatrists from Great Ormond Street working hand-in-hand with the unit’s team in order to help my sister recover – or so we thought.

Even though my family and I didn’t know it at the time, the psychiatrists at the unit (you won’t have heard of it) had refused to work with Great Ormond Street (an internationally renowned children’s hospital) as they thought they knew the best way to treat her – even though they’d never treated someone with anorexia as young as my sister. They also refused to allow family therapy meetings as they thought this would bring no benefit whatsoever. What they did do to help my sister, I don’t know, all I can remember is that a few years after being admitted she was discharged and went to live with my Aunt and Uncle as she couldn’t cope being in the family home.

By this point in time I hadn’t seen my sister for nearly three years. I was coming on sixteen, struggling with being bullied at school, whether or not I should disclose I was self-harming, endlessly worrying about my sister, confused over what was happening to her and trying to study for my GCSEs whilst being so anxious I couldn’t talk to anyone or think straight. I had no friends to speak of and certainly no-one who knew of my sister’s condition – for want of a more original stereotype, releasing this information would have been like throwing kerosene on a bonfire!

One Sunday (I believe it was a Sunday) whilst I was studying for exams my parents received a phone call; my sister had taken an overdose of tablets and been rushed to hospital. For weeks I could think of nothing but this. School work was out. Studying was out.

My sister had tried to kill herself…but according to the psychiatrist I should have understood why she’d done this, and again, it was my fault at the tender age of fifteen that I’d allowed it to effect my thinking as much as I did.

It baffles me that, nearly twenty years later, I still cannot remember this period other than the pain and confusion I was feeling for my sister, yet according to a trained mental health professional, I had no reason to feel such pain and confusion in the first place so it has no consequence on anything that happened to me.

I remember my sister’s screaming sessions, sometimes going for hours. I remember her banging her head against the door at such force it shook the house. I remember her getting thinner and thinner until it looked like she would just disappear in front of me. I remember her turning on the charm and perfection whenever doctors or psychiatrists questioned her to make them think nothing was wrong, before flicking the switch back to chaos the moment they left. I don’t want to remember my sister’s pain, nor the pain it caused me, as it physically hurts to do so. In all honesty I’ve never really processed this period, and now I know it’s my fault, I don’t think I ever will.

Four years after I’d last seen her, my sister returned to live in the family home. She was a lot more stable than she’d been the last time she was living with us but it was obvious things would never be the same again. Although she could be in the same vicinity as me, even hold down conversations with me, it was difficult for me to get past all that had happened, although as always, I tried.

By now I was more aware of what was happening. I had read up on mental illness (focusing on anorexia, OCD, self-harm and depression) courtesy of the local library and my parents had established a charity called ‘MH Carers’ with assistance from National Lottery grants. Although I didn’t completely understand mental health, I was far more knowledgeable of it than I had been in my pre-pubescent youth; not only in terms of what was happening to me, but also in what was happening to Kathryn, and more importantly, how I could help.

For a year or so my sister and I would spend a lot of time with my brother and his girlfriend. The four of us would go on weekend breaks to visit relatives, take day-trips to Chessington World of Adventures (where my sister and I would reminisce over the robin incident) and just talk about things.

It was around this time that I began reading my sister’s writing, and vice-versa, reminding me of those long-ago homework sessions of our childhood. She would correct my grammar; I would give her plot advice. We’d talk novels, television shows and for a little while we almost became proper siblings again.

At the age of sixteen Kathryn moved out of the family home and took a flat in a nearby town. After work, I would often visit her, discussing everything from how my day had been to the latest Shakespeare play she’d been enjoying. I particularly remember a fiery debate about Hamlet; which we would go on to watch at the cinema together when Branagh’s version was released.

Following my decision to go backpacking Kathryn and I kept in regular contact; emails, letters and postcards were exchanged whilst lengthy phone calls were made from such random locations as the top of the Wallace monument, an isolated phone box on Mull and an even more isolated phone box in Glenfinnan.

By the time I traveled to Canada our phone calls would last upwards of two hours covering everything and anything we could think of; Eddie Izzard, the philosophy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, how cute Oz was, what to do in the event of a bear attack and my questionable sanity were all fair game.

She seemed to have stabilised herself and was working toward a better future – educating herself with multiple courses from the Open University, having stories and articles published in various publications – whilst I was making headway in rectifying my own issues. In fact, for a while there, I thought the worst was behind us.

Then, in 2001, contact stopped; no phone calls, no emails, no letters, no nothing.

For six years I heard nothing from her other than snippets from my parents.

Then, in 2007, she attempted suicide…again.

Other entries in this series…
Part 1:
Childhood, the most beautiful of all life’s seasons
Part 3: COMING ON FRIDAY 21 SEPTEMBER 2012

 


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Anxiety and its effect on body image

Author’s Note: I would *love* to include photographs of myself in this post to illustrate a part of my body image anxiety, which is that I do not see myself properly. People tell me I’m handsome and attractive, with a 34 waist and fair muscle definition but I see myself as a grotesque animal with a bloated size 44+ frame that makes people vomit upon glimpsing me. Unfortunately, my anxiety over my appearance prevents me from photographing myself either clothed or naked, let alone posting them online for all to ridicule. Hence the pixellation whenever I do post an old photograph of myself!

When the issue of body image arises people tend to think it the exclusive domain of the female gender; the sexualisation of young girls, the teenager struggling to accept herself, the woman instantly disbelieving her boyfriend the moment he says ‘no’ to her doubts over various body parts.

Rarely is body image seen as a problem that men struggle with. Over the years I’ve been in Australia, a country obsessed with appearance and physical shape, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard comments like: “men don’t care what they look like”, “men don’t see that they’re morbidly obese, they just believe themselves to be perfect” or “men don’t worry about how chubby their arse is”.

The simple fact is, some do; and I’m one of them.

Once upon a time I purchased a new pair of jeans. They were a pretty awesome pair of jeans, easily the most expensive I’d ever brought, and I thought they made me look pretty darn hot. Upon arriving home and modeling them for my then girlfriend I asked her the question she’d asked me approximately 38.6 times in the four months we’d been together: “Does my bum look big in this?”

She said, “Kindof, but then you only have half an arse anyway,”

“Half an arse?”

“Yep. Half is pretty sexy. The other half…ick,”

If I’d answered along those lines I wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near her splendiferous backside for many moons. But as men aren’t supposed to be hung up on body image, I wasn’t supposed to take it seriously. Unfortunately, I did, because I’ve been hung up on what I look like since I was but a young bairn rolling around in the mud in some distant Scottish village.

The Early Years

An overweight child at school will always be a prime target for bullying. If you don’t believe me, check out any news article published on the issue of obesity and take a stroll through the comments fields. The insulting terms that get thrown around in those adult forums are nothing compared to what goes on in the school yard. During those long school bound years I was called every name you can possibly think of for fat people; from the obvious (Lazy, Fatty, Fatso, Pooh, Michelin Man, Stay Puft) to the not so obvious (Feltzy, Dr Eggman)

It’s not unreasonable to suggest that it was during these formative years my issues with my weight and body began, especially when you consider my sister’s reaction. Diagnosed with anorexia at age eleven, her illness manifested itself into believing my fat was contagious, and thus, she could not have anything to do with me. No contact, no talking, no being in the same room or vicinity as her.

To say I became focused on my weight is an understatement. To be honest, I’m surprised I didn’t develop an eating disorder myself! But my issues manifested in the form of a severe anxiety – borderline hatred – of my body.

Throughout those years I made several efforts to address the problem.

When I was a child I attempted to join an after school football group, given at the time I was a staunch supporter of Aberdeen FC and loved the beautiful game. Unfortunately, on the very first day, the coach informed me I was too unfit (thus not good enough) to play and was promptly informed never to return.

In my early teens I undertook several paper rounds that saw me lug several kilos of newspapers around the town I lived in both before and after school. I also rode my bike wherever and whenever I could.

Even though I hated Gym class growing up I always gave it my best effort – not always easy when the Gym teacher would confiscate my glasses for fear of them being broken. Being a fat kid playing sport is bad enough – being a blind fat kid playing sport was agonizing; especially when cricket balls I couldn’t see were hurled into my goolies or I ran into the wall whilst trying to grab a blurred basketball. All such uncoordinated behavior earning more insulting comments and verbal retaliation; especially when I would miss open goals in football because I couldn’t properly make out the ball!

By my late teens (when most people had begun experimenting with the opposite sex) I had become a virtual recluse; unable to go to the swimming pool for fear of people laughing at my trunk clad frame, unwilling to exercise in public unless under cloak of darkness and solitude. I would wear clothes that were too large – thus reducing the amount of clinging material – and began showering in a T-Shirt with a towel placed over the bathroom mirror to reduce the chance of glimpsing my naked torso.

The Backpacking Years

My first morning in Edinburgh I was desperate for a slash. I leapt out of my bunk bed and hobbled down the corridor to the bathroom, passing a girl who was packing her pack in the hall. She had a very wide, somewhat embarrassed grin on her face, an expression that confused me until I arrived at the toilet and realized my left bollock was hanging from my boxer shorts.

Only then did it occur to me that the excitement of embarking on my quest had overruled my strict rules of remaining clothed at all time. That woman, though she didn’t realize it at the time, holds the esteemed honor of being the first woman to see my left testicle!

Throughout the remainder of my backpacking – as per the reasons why I’d embarked on such a quest – I pushed to challenge my anxiety and self-confidence issues. When I went to Aberdeen I visited the leisure center to ride the flumes as part of a nostalgia kick to my childhood! A trip to Aviemore, in the desolate isolation of a forest, I stripped nude for the first time in public just to see if I could. On a visit to Glenfinnan I skinny dipped in Loch Shiel. Ditto, during a private visit to Loch Ness!

None of this prevented people aiming snide abusive comments or offering me ‘well intended’ advice on how I could lose weight and stop being so lazy and unattractive.

In spite of these comments and advice, by the time I arrived in Canada, I was stripping off whenever the opportunity presented itself. In fact, a couple of days after first meeting Annie I had zero problems stripping down to my shorts to swim in the springs nor doing the same to leap into a snake populated lake. Neither activity being something I’d have done a few months earlier, especially in the presence of such a ravishing, beautiful woman.

I’ve never been able to adequately explain why my body image issues lessened in Canada. Perhaps because I was so happy and relaxed, perhaps because I was in a foreign country and thus free to be a ‘different’ person. Possibly, and most likely, because the hours, days and weeks of hiking and exercise I’d undertaken since lugging my 20kg rucksack around the world had reduced my waistline to the second lowest it’s ever been.

The Australia Years

By the time I arrived in Australia I was back to my podgy, overweight, former-self. Months of depression and low mood had seen many comfort binges that had done my waistline no favors! Thus, upon arriving in the most appearance focused country on Earth, my body was far from what Aussie’s consider ‘acceptable’.

Every morning, on my walks and rides along the beach during those early months, I would receive condescending comments from complete strangers on how I should just ‘keep going’ and sooner or later I would ‘get rid of the spare tyres I carried’. Those arrogant prats probably thought they were doing something encouraging, whereas all they did was stop me from exercising and bring back the comfort eating to ease my bruised anxiety.

Over time I just learnt to accept I was never going to be anyone’s idea of male attractiveness. Despite cycling upwards of 20-30km a day my weight and physical appearance leveled off in the chubby camp and would never budge. My girlfriend consistently talking me out of joining a gym didn’t help given I’d worked so hard on my gym issues to even go there in the first place.

The Abuse Years

Oh. My. God!

I’ve written in the past how abuse does not go down well with a socially anxious person. Consider the comment from yesterday’s post where I mentioned my innate, crippling fear of being scrutinized and humiliated. All an abuser does is scrutinize, criticize and humiliate, in whatever manner they can to receive maximum impact.

As well as increasing my existing issues over my excess weight with regular references to me being fat, ugly and lazy my abuser created complexes over things I had never given a second thought in my life.

– A couple of moles I have on my back, and have done my entire life, I attempted to cut off with a knife after dozens of comments about how disgusting and grotesque they were. Seriously, don’t try that at home!

– A slightly hairy shoulder that I now shave religiously following dozens of comments about it, including twice when she informed me it made her want to vomit. I have, at times, reduced this area to a mass of bloody raw flesh by endlessly shaving given how aware of its ugliness I’ve become.

– Although never being the most fashionable human being on earth – I much prefer shopping in charity shops to assist the needy than spending hundreds of dollars on a single garment to help the already rich – I am now, and have been ever since the abuse, acutely aware that I am a deeply ugly person no matter what I wear. Until the abuse, I always felt comfortable and confident in whatever I wore.

– At one point in our relationship, as we were writhing naked in the lead up to a horizontal tango, she literally pushed me off of her as she’d become aware of a hair growing out of a freckle on my arm. After finding her tweezers and yanking it out she proceeded to give me a twenty-minute lecture about how disgusting it was, as if I had deliberately encouraged the hair to grow to annoy her. Now, much like the shoulder, I religiously excise this hair on a daily basis to the point that the skin is either removed completely or becomes infected.

I became so obsessed with my physical appearance during that time I’ve never fully recovered from it. As with all areas of my anxiety, the abuse has skyrocketed my body image issues to unparalleled levels.

The Post Breakdown Years

During the months after my breakdown I returned to my never-naked youth. Showers were taken in T-Shirts and swimming shorts, sleeping was always clothed (even on 30+ degree nights) and I would dress with my eyes closed to prevent any accidental nudity glances.

Only when my mood escalated to mania did I stop caring about what I looked like. Hence my ability to undertake the oft-mentioned streaking incident, stripping down in front of numerous women and roam around the hotel fully nude for hours on end. All things I would never consider under normal circumstances.

Upon the inevitable collapse back into depression, my anxiety over my body returned and remained. I returned to the techniques refined since my youth, as well as the new routines I’d developed as a result of the abuse. Although I would pretend otherwise, I never felt truly comfortable being naked in front of my next girlfriend, not because of anything she did but because of all that had happened in the past.

The Homeless Years

As with all aspects of my mental health, the anxiety concerning my body has increased ten-fold since becoming homeless. Sleeping in a park does not facilitate fuzzy bunny feelings over ones appearance. You feel constantly dirty, even after showering, body odors become difficult to contain, even after using deodorant, and clothing is often whatever you can afford and to hell with whether it suits you. Throw in the difficulty of getting a haircut, accessing razors to shave slightly hairy shoulders and eating a healthy and balanced diet, it becomes impossible to view yourself as an attractive human being.

With the vast majority of the world treating you as a feral animal, it doesn’t take long before you start seeing yourself as one.

Now

My strict protective strategies are deeply embedded to the point they are now second nature; the disrobing and putting on my ‘showering’ clothes, the changing clothes with my eyes closed, the endless removal of shoulder and freckle hair, the constant self-criticism over my lack of decent clothing, my inability to go to the gym in fear of scrutiny and humiliation in front of the sizzling hot people who tend to populate these facilities.

Although not receiving as much attention as female representation. The way males are depicted on-screen has also had an increased negative effect; the endless parade of ripped, shirtless males with perfect abs, six packs and v’s amplify the thoughts that I’m insignificant and unlovable; the demoralizing depiction of overweight males being lazy, unintelligent, beer swigging, morons; the repetition of the myths that men always see themselves as handsome, never see their physical flaws and that body image anxiety is solely the domain of women.

Throughout my life I’ve never really spoken of these body image issues with friends, girlfriends or psychologists in fear of the inevitable laughter, ridicule and emasculating comments. Men are supposed to be confident, assured, strong…not caught in the cycle of self-hate that body image issues create. Given I already feel emasculated as a result of the abuse and rape, increasing this would only do more damage to my fragile self-esteem, so I merely keep quiet at all times.

In recent months I’ve noticed articles begin to appear discussing male body image, all of which are sorely needed. But as with other areas of life (abuse, mental health, rape) the emphasis in mainstream society is still on female body image issues with little advice to men other than the standard, and insulting, “just harden the frak up” or “man up”.

Male body image issues are real, debilitating and humiliating. If you cannot love yourself, what can you love? Society needs to take this problem more seriously, instead of resorting to the tried and true stereotypes that reduce men to emotionless, arrogant, morons. Continuing to ignore the issue will have devastating consequences including, in some extreme cases, death.

Note: I would *love* to include photographs of myself in this post to illustrate a part of my body issue anxiety that isn’t clear, which is that I do not see myself properly. People tell me I’m handsome and attractive, with a could-be-better 34 waist but I see myself as a grotesque animal with a bloated size 44+ frame. Unfortunately, my anxiety over my appearance prevents me from photographing myself either clothed or naked, let alone posting them online for all to ridicule. Hence the pixellation whenever I do post an old photograph of myself!

Tomorrow: Anxiety and its effect on friendships and relationships >>>

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(The 21 Challenge) Day 1: I Hate Running

For the next twenty-one days I have challenged myself to do one new thing every day that scares me to help raise support for at risk homeless youth.

You can support me here…go on, it will make you feel all gooey inside. 

Today’s new thing: running.

Now, this may not seem like much to most of you, but the thought of slipping on a pair of runners and jogging through the streets of my home town scares me to the point I’d rather come face to face with my very own Saw puzzle than be seen exercising in public.

Why? Well, I’m glad you asked, for I have prepared a nifty list to explain:

Ten reasons why running scares me…

  1. Because – alas – I do not look like the gentleman to your right. I have quite severe body image issues – thanks mainstream media and the ludicrous expectations of some females – so being seen doing anything even remotely energetic fills me with the sort of anxiety that leads toward crippling, foaming at the mouth panic attacks.
    Besides, given my rather atrocious luck, if I were to run through a river I wouldn’t look as ruggedly sexy as this man does. I would either end up falling headfirst into the freezing water due to my lacklustre co-ordination and/or be eaten by a rogue crocodile.
  2. Because I have the lung capacity of a newt.
  3. because of my British heritage I have never quite adjusted to the Australian heat and thus, even on a rather mild 2 degree morning, will break a sweat by even opening the front door.
  4. Because said sweat messes up my (albeit) too long but alarmingly luscious hair.
  5. Because I don’t know this area very well and get lost a little too easily.
  6. Because I cannot exercise without music. This doesn’t sound like too much of an issue until you take into account I sound far more Bill Shatner than Gotye – and there are laws out there governing disturbance of the peace.
  7. Because I run like a girl. By that I mean I’m much faster than most men, my hips wiggle in a hypnotically attractive fashion, I should probably invest in a sports bra and workmen turn their heads and grunt disgustingly sexist remarks about what they’d like to do to my posterior.
  8. Because when I run I look like a constipated otter trying to move on only two legs.
  9. Because it reminds me of the time at school when I threw my all into winning the 200m sprint during a gym class. Surrounded by fit attractive boys and with gorgeous hot girls watching I ran…and ran…and ran…and ran…until I crossed the finishing line and promptly vomited behind a bush. It’s annoying I always remember this over the fact that I won.
  10. Because in addition to suffering from body image issues I suffer from social anxiety and despise to the point of soul crushing fear being seen in public. There’s a reason I liken myself to the majestic Tiger Quoll.

So when I rose at this morning at 4am, I was, to say the least, a trifle anxious. My reasoning for such an early start was simple: most people are far too sane to be roaming the near freezing streets at such an ungodly hour so I would have them to myself.

Slipping on a ‘No Fear’ T-shirt (purely for ironic purposes) and my AFLesque tight shorts I did a few warm ups as I checked the music on my MP3 player and ran my pre-planned route through my head: a few side-streets would take me to a park, from there I’d head to Lawrence Street, down Lawrence Street, up the train line, Thomas Mitchell Drive, then circle back home where I could die a rasping, suffocating death.

Easy.

What could possibly go wrong?

Ten reasons why running still scares me…

  1. Because I was reminded when I reached the end of the drive how out of shape all this mental health/homeless malarkey has made me. Note:it is approximately ten feet to the end of my drive.
  2. Because I have the co-ordination of a drunk giraffe trying to walk on black ice. Approximately five minutes after leaving the house I successfully managed to fall over a rogue tree root and sent myself hurtling into a storm drain.
  3. Because even at such an ungodly hour there are still people roaming the streets. Not good for the socially anxious, especially when they catch you in your rendition of power ballad classic Holding Out For a Hero.
  4. Because (a) I’ve had dog phobia since I was chased up a climbing frame by a rottweiler (read: corgi) when I was five, (b) I am not yet faster than a dog and (c) their tongues are sloppy!
  5. Because even though running is (apparently) good for your bowel movements, these can occur at inopportune moments. Especially when there are no bathrooms near where you live and you suffer from IBS. Thank God for trees is all I say!
  6. Because as I veered onto Thomas Mitchell Drive, covered in dog drool, I failed to navigate the railway crossing properly, caught my foot on the track and ended up arse over foot.
  7. Because I’m a stubborn fool who doesn’t know when to quit. With a massive gash on my leg dribbling blood onto the sidewalk, I recklessly ignoring the pronounced limp that made me look like I was auditioning for The Usual Suspects and kept running.
  8. Because I’m a masochist. After running straight past the end of my road following a surprising surge of adrenalin and/or endorphins I refused to turn back. Instead, I went up the hill, turned left, got profoundly lost, and ended up adding at least 2 kilometres to my run.
  9. Because I’d forgotten what running can do your nipples.
  10. Because I have the memory of an amnesia affected goldfish and forgot to buy milk; cue dry muesli as my ‘reward’ upon (finally) returning home from this monumental achievement.

So, to summarise; I fell over, was heckled, mauled by a sloppy dog, injured my leg, got profoundly lost, chafed my nipples atrociously and ate dried muesli for breakfast.

Could have been worse!

Now, only twenty more days to go in this 21 Challenge; how can I injure myself tomorrow?