Just another week

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Pictures like this get me through winter time: Brittany, north coast, 2014

It has been quite a week here in Devon. A week without cycling, yes, you did hear that right. A week with lots of health appointments and miserable weather. What it meant for me was two-fold. Firstly, I had to drive far more than I would wish to and secondly, I would be thoroughly shaken up by the emotional nature of the various conversations I would be having with health professionals. Please don’t read this wrongly. I have waited a long time for more professional input and are glad of it, but opening cans of worms and then stirring them has a cost.

My daily routine of trying to do one thing that matters each day was of great use this week. Returning from the various appointments I would collapse in a heap, mind overloaded and physically exhausted, just to repeat the process the next day. By Friday, I was talked out, numb, and just wanting to be quiet. A tab of Temazepam at bedtime helped quash the ever-spinning thought processes I was experiencing and I fell into a deep, but sadly often disturbed sleep.

There is something about opening-up about your past and emotions to somebody new that is both difficult and honest. It isn’t the same as talking to somebody you know or even writing a blog like this one, which I have now done for many years. There is always a fear that you may not be heard or worse, that you might be unheard or judged negatively. My last experience was that I was clearly heard and then, a few weeks later, rejected. The reasons for this are still not known and the promised support never materialised. That is perhaps the worst scenario, but it didn’t stop me asking again, twice. I felt like Oliver asking for more despite knowing the probable outcome: small and fragile against the might of the system. I did it because I still need that help and I still believe I deserve it. It isn’t any longer enough to accept that mental health isn’t well provided for. It should be far better supported than it is and we are all as deserving as any other person who is suffering a physical illness.

I have no idea what the outcome of my meetings will be. I just hope that something comes of it that I can use to move forward another step. I do know that the person with whom I spoke was supportive and honest about possible support and provision. They were also honest enough to bring up the subject of the non-appearance of the psychologist referral I was promised that never materialised. And he apologised for the lack of support available, as if it was his fault. For me, it was really about process than outcomes. I’ve done my bit. I turned up (not easy) and was open (more difficult still) and honest (you may as well go the whole hog) despite that being a painful thing to put yourself through. I am now sitting back and waiting to see what, if anything, changes.

Millenium Park cycleway, Sustrans at their best

This year I will be exploring big chunks of the National Cycle Network again.

And now the week has ended. I am relieved that there is no more talking to be done. My mind has demanded some down time, some absolute quiet on my own to allow recovery from the traumatic consequence of sharing my inner thoughts and fears several times in one week.

But it wasn’t just the talking that has been tough going this week. At various times over a long period, my therapist and I have been using a therapy called EMDR (Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprogramming) to try to access and process some of the tightly bound underlying trauma that I carry around daily. During traumatic experience your brain changes physically and the traumatic sensations and fears can become stuck. Your brain can then no longer function correctly. This therapy helps to unstick them and then reprocess them. It isn’t a cure-all but it seems to work well for some people.

During these sessions, I have to follow memories back into my mind, aided by two hand-held buzzers that trigger bi-lateral brain processes. For me, it feels as though I have stepped back in time and are experiencing the sensations and emotions for the first time. I feel as though I relive the moments which I am revisiting. This can leave me extremely troubled and raw afterwards and throughout the following week, old memories and associated pains can, and do, pop into my head as they wish. This can be painful and tiring and I have other skills/resources I use to manage this until it settles again.

And that sums up the whole of the last week. None of the fears I held prior to these meetings came to fruition and now it is all over, at least for the short term, I can go back to the other things that have been occupying me recently, along with thoughts of summer cycling.

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You never know what you may find around the next corner.

The end of the previous week saw me launch the third book in my Riding2Recovery series. Serenity and Storm is the story of my first journey outside the UK for many years. It was both beautiful and gentle, all the way down the west coast of France. But as I approached the Pyrenees, everything changed, violently. Throwing the worst weather in living history in my face, my pleasant saunter through France became an unpredictable struggle. Finding myself trapped in a place that had been declared an Area of National Disaster, the mountains had spoken. The evacuation and following destruction of roads, property and infrastructure was frightening.

When it was all done and dusted and the roads reopened, I rode away wondering what had just happened. I found my plans in tatters but at least I was in one piece. I had to revise my intended route extensively and it was a quite unique experience as I never knew from that moment on what I would face around the next corner.

This is the third book in the Riding2Recovery trilogy. The EBooks are available at Smashwords for all Ereaders, including Kindle. In a few weeks, the E-version will filter through to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBook store and others. The paper version is still being prepared but will be out soon.

For the next week, ALL three books will be available at a 25% discount as part of Smashwords ‘Read an Ebook’ week. Just follow this link to my page at Smashwords. Chose the books you want and when you proceed to checkout there is a discount voucher code to use.

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Have a great week and happy reading. Until next time………