• Sophe Ward

Handling The Crash & Burn

I apologise that there have been a lack of posts. To be fair, I didn't think I would blog today, either. I am exhausted, wiped out. My own fault. I have run myself into the ground, mentally, emotionally and physically. I have so much whizzing through my mind. The words are all a jumble in my mind, sometimes making sense -but more often not they are like a long maths equation. Teaching yourself things, new things is difficult. I had it with school, re-learning everything in a short amount of time ready for back to back exams in a short space of time. All the information just becomes a blur. I always want to move forward and help in every and any which way I can. Often forgetting that I too am poorly and quickly run out of steam. I am a people pleaser but my worst enemy in this department is myself. Nothing is good enough when it comes to myself. I think it is naturally programmed into you as a swimmer. I always used to write out my goals and like everyone did, you handed them into the coach. Mine would be crossed out and faster times would replace my goals. I would be sent back to re-type the goals and add them to my log book. Once they were reached there was no real time for celebration, the goal sheet came out again and new goals were set. The success was yesterday, tomorrow we had to be even better.

I guess I still live by these rules these days. I am proud of myself, despite everything I am doing as much as I possibly can but I am always beating myself up and if I have a spare moment it is thinking, WHAT NEXT?' It isn't always healthy but these days it is the only thing that really keeps me sane. Pain levels are high and it is often difficult to smile. You walk around THROBBING, wondering, can I move? But knowing sitting in and between the four walls is far more mentally scarring. People think you are fine, why would they question it? You aren't moaning, you are up and walking - so what? People will never fully understand until they walk in your shoes ( which I hope they don't). I have had a mad few months. I wanted to make 25 special, so I set out from the start of the year that I had to go above and beyond. Think outside the box. Not just offer support but a comfort blanket. Include diversity and inclusion, so that life could be brighter and feel less lonely for people. It was a big goal, I know with many challenges and many obstacles but here we are 3 months in. With so much more I hope and dream for this year. I know I have to be realistic. I am beginning to do more little things for myself. I wish I could do so much more, but it isn't as straight forward as running 'free'. Free in all aspects is like the Holy Grail, or the pot of gold at the rainbow. Faced with raised eyebrows, or the guilty feeling of putting others out just eats away at your insides until you become numb to the core.

I have become more reckless, it gets boring, it gets annoying and you become damn angry at your health 99 per cent of the time. We push ourselves like swimmers do, to we are MAXED out, throwing up at the end of lane, passing out and throbbing beyond belief. I think it get more heart destroying when you feel MAXED out not from doing 24 hours in a pool, but a 24 minute walk. So I push my body doing the things I love because at least to me the pain, the discomfort is worth it. I have something to show for it. Good food memories, time with friends, family time, work commitments, charity work. If we played safe, then life would be grey & you would have to live in a box. Then what would we have to show for our time here?

The do I, don't I question haunts me everyday, with everything I do, don't do and take on. Luckily Mama advises me very well but often I try to push myself and follow my heart. But to reach that point you can to go through the battle, through no-man's land of an in-decisive mind, body and face the shells, guns, cannons before finally reaching a decision that you won't completely be set on because there will always be consequences and can you take the consequences? A question you can't always answer and often one you try to ignore because you value life over yourself more often than not. It the sheer desire to feel like you are living, exploring, learning and experiencing that take over anything else.

Life... and that leads me on to ALL the work I do. Trying to make life bearable, trying to de-code it in my own weird way and help people enjoy life a little more, feel less alone.

The smallest steps are often the most effective, being positive, smiling, hugs, a quick message. But then you have to go deep and think about all the aspects that people battling chronic illness believe they are missing out on. Food? Socialising? Friendships? Products? You look at the market, what are their friends into? How can you help include them, so they too can join in with their loved ones. My friend Angie is so right, it isn't selfish to use our own problems or emotions first, to not only aid our own well-being but help us understand how best to help others too. The hardest part of this journey isn't the work itself and putting the wheels into motion. I thrive off hard-work and creativity. It is the soul-searching you, yourself have to do. You have to be open, raw and real with your audience and yourself. You will come across many warning signs and red flags that previously you will have ignored. You have to learn to be kinder to yourself and begin doing things that feeds your heart and soul as well as everyone else's. You have to become more accepting of yourself and more at peace. WHICH IS A MASSIVE LESSON... and one we have to work on learning everyday. It isn't an over-night job.

Most importantly - loving yourself. THE HARDEST THING IN THE WORLD. I am more at peace than my earlier years but I still have so far to go and high mountains to climb. I would no-longer go under the knife to enhance what I felt I was lacking in. I have learnt the importance of inner beauty over outer. I have learnt that perfection is a myth and we are all unique. We shouldn't all want to be the same or have what someone else has. Also tackling self-guilt, self-punish and lack of self-worth because of your health is a massive battle.

I am a black sheep, always have been - always will be. Some days it upsets me, other days I feel empowered by the fact. Like I say, I have lots more work to do, challenges to take on and as long as I keep an open mind and an open heart, slowly, slowly I hope to improve.

We have so many wars to fight, with no res-bite, no day off. Just the demand to keep going, keep getting up, keep fighting as retreating and surrendering isn't an option. Just sometimes you run out of armour and you can't keep up with the new weapons on the battlefield.

It is exhausting me just thinking about it all. So I will end this blog for today. I hope you all truly have a blessed weekend. Remembering to do things that egnite your inner flame, feeds your soul and fills your heart. We are part of the healing we want to bring to others.

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