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Dating is a tricky business at the best of times, but even more so if you have a history of mental illness. Here are some dos and don’ts …
Dating is hard. It’s paved with heartache and unrequited crushes and the blurting out of gabbled nonsense in front of the unimpressed person you like. When I finally found myself in a conversation with someone I liked at work, whose head I had resolutely stared at the back of for a full three months, I answered an innocuous, “So, how’s your day going?” with, “I am awash with existential despair.” She stared, confused and unblinking, back into my face. I then followed it up with a tiny, pathetic, “Woo!” She sat down again. I continued to stare at the back of her head from my desk, in the full knowledge that she would never speak to me again. This isn’t just me, right? This is how it is for everyone. This is what it’s like to date. It’s awkward.
But what is it like when, in addition to your inability to say anything remotely funny or interesting to the person you are into, you have a mental health problem as well? How does that affect the way you interact with them? How does it affect a relationship once you are actually in one? And, more pressingly: how do you even tell someone you are, or have been, ill? At what point during the dating process is it appropriate to bring up mental health?Continue Reading »
Back pain affects pretty well everyone at some stage or another, and many people turn to painkillers as the first line of treatment. But is time the greatest healer?
Almost everyone gets back pain. It’s as inevitable as paying taxes and death. But at least you can take painkillers, right? Except that the American College of Physicians (ACP) has announced that drugs should no longer be the first line of treatment. Instead of reaching for paracetamol or ibuprofen, you should try treatment such as heat (superficial), massage or acupuncture. Codeine (with paracetamol) and the occasional diazepam are particularly frowned upon because they carry the risk of addiction.
Of course, times change: I remember patients with back pain regularly arriving by ambulance to be strapped on to beds with traction devices. Antidepressant drugs, just as antiquated a treatment, are now rejected by the ACP as being no more effective than placebos.Continue Reading »
Ticking off another World Marathon Major in Tokyo – just your standard long run then. Whether its pre-race tomatoes or post-race beers, or even the bit in between, I want to hear all about your weekend exploits
As my mum always used to say when I was a young whippersnapper – do as I say and not as I do. Running a marathon as preparation for another marathon in a couple of months’ time is not necessarily the approved method – my coach would certainly not usually recommend it – but as a long training run, doing the Tokyo marathon takes quite some beating. From the brilliant lunacy of the short but intensely fun Friendship Run on the Saturday to the race itself (mid-race tomato, anyone?) I think I might have DOMS in my face from smiling so much.
A long training run – the longest before a marathon race – is often a wearisome trudge. Do it in a World Marathon Major and instead you get a medal, a post race towel and something called Calorie Mate which looks like a second world war ration block. I haven’t dared unwrap it yet! And a tempo run feels easy when crowds are cheering you on with shouts of “gambare gambare!” – and the people at the bag drop clap you and repeated congratulate you with “good job!” I finished in a steady three hours and 22 minutes and hopefully after some recovery (and some crossed fingers) I am on track to go sub three at the London marathon in a couple of months’ time.Continue Reading »
The differences between men and women is all the work of one hormone, right? Totally wrong, says Cordelia Fine
When a baby is born, their sex is usually the first thing we want to know about them. The last thing you’re ever likely to forget about a person is whether they are male or female. We often think of biological sex as a fundamental force in human development that creates not just two kinds of reproductive system, but two kinds of people.
At the core of this way of thinking is a familiar evolutionary story. Men’s much smaller minimum investment in a baby means that they can reap huge reproductive benefits from having sex with many different women; preferably young, fertile ones. Not so for a woman. What most constrains her is access to resources, to help her care for her biologically expensive offspring.Continue Reading »
It can be dangerous – I’ve fractured an elbow, my ankle and both wrists (twice). I used to skate with my cast on
As a teenager I used to hang out at the skate park after school. It’s where most of my friends were. I’d just sit there while they all skated, chatting to them when they were resting. I thought it looked really cool. Back then it was rare to see girl skaters, so even though I gave it a go and my friends were supportive, I didn’t really get into it. That changed when I started uni and moved to Brighton. The majority of skaters were still guys, and when I’d go to a skate park people would stare; but I reached a point where I just stopped caring and got on with it.
As a skater, you see the world differently. During driving lessons I’ll be trying to concentrate on the road, but then I’ll see some stairs or a rail and get distracted, thinking how great it would be to skate there. Towns become massive playgrounds. I’ll skate around Brighton with my mates and we’ll have so much fun discovering new spots.Continue Reading »
Haemin Sunim says a happy relationship and contented children are within reach for us all – if we could just slow down and pay attention to each other
Some people, if you ask them a question, answer quickly. Others take a moment to think first. Haemin Sunim looks up, slightly to the right, and allows 14 seconds to pass before he answers one of my questions. I counted, when I listened to the recording. And here’s something: waiting for his reply, I didn’t feel even remotely uncomfortable. Because taking time is Sunim’s thing. He’s a Buddhist monk who has become internationally famous for it.
His book Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down was published in South Korea in 2012, quickly rose to No 1 on the bestseller list and stayed there for nearly a year, selling more than 3m copies. Written in response to requests for advice on social media (he has 1.25 million followers on Twitter), it directly addresses problems facing people around the world. Some of this is based on his personal experience. Much is based on what he has learned from people who ask for his help.Continue Reading »
If you’ve always thought that only the amateurs feel the pre-race fear, you’d be wrong. Elite runner Tina Muir offers tips to overcome the nerves
Do you remember cross country day at school? It was exhausting, embarrassing, and easily shattered your confidence as you faced your own insecurities head on. And this comes from someone who was actually good at it.
Fast forward to today. The mental demons telling me to stop are just as loud. Not only is running tough on the body, it is also tough on the mind. Most other sports involve short bursts of activity where you can focus on completing a task or helping your team. Not running.Continue Reading »
Watching, cheering, pacing or racing – was did your weekend have in store for you? Come and share your triumphs and woes below the line as always
It’s hardly a novel observation that while mass participation running is seeing massive growth, crowds and audiences for athletics events is falling. Anyone who watched the indoor Grand Prix from Birmingham on Saturday will know what a shame that is, when a star like Laura Muir is rising. Mo Farah may have won his (hardly hotly contested) race, but Muir was truly stellar, breaking the UK and European records for 1,000m and only just missing out on the world record.
If that feels like an impressive, yet distant feat to you – well, it’s already had an impact in my house. Running junior parkrun on Sunday, the look on my five year old’s face in the finishing straight was – I swear – almost identical to Muir’s. At bedtime, she requested a story featuring Muir. Oh, and both she and her big sister got PBs. It’s amazing what a bit of inspiration – oh, ok, and a promise of some chocolate buttons – can do.Continue Reading »
Finishing the Athens 10K at the Panathenaic stadium, ahead of runners making their way from the town of Marathon, is an elating experience
I like a run that finishes in a stadium. It can bring a sense of grandeur, of occasion, to any race. The crowds banked up high. For a fleeting moment you can pretend you’re Mo Farah or Jessica Ennis-Hill.
As stadium finishes go, few can match the experience of entering the almost 2,000-year-old Panathenaic stadium in Athens. Made of marble and with a seating capacity of 50,000, this epic structure was the setting for the opening ceremony of the first modern Olympics in 1896. It was the finish of the 2004 Olympic marathons. Long ago, it hosted naked wrestlers and gladiators.Continue Reading »
Everyone needs to find their own niche in the big world of running. And then be left to enjoy it. So come and share your own weekend woes and triumphs below the line as always
I’ve had several conversations recently about tribalism in running – particularly in London. With the massive growth in the sport in recent years, it’s only natural that different types of runner, as well as different types of race, club, and communities, have formed. Then there’s the different styles of running, which themselves take on a slightly messianic quality: the ‘barefoot is best’ vs maximalist, the ‘warm up is pointless’ vs committed pre-run stretchers.
The thing is, they are all right. For them. My motto when it comes to shoe recommendations is ‘there is no good or bad trainer, there’s just the one that’s right for you’ – and likewise in running itself, I think everyone should find their own way – and then leave it at that. There is no inherent virtue in wearing barefoot shoes vs more cushioned ones. There is nothing ‘better’ about running with music or podcasts vs silence. It’s just what you enjoy. One runner’s birdsong and sheep baaing might be another’s roar of the North Circular – putting music on to block that out doesn’t make them any less of a runner.Continue Reading »