Its well over a month since I went drug free and I’ve not updated many people on how it is going. I know from the responses of friends and strangers that the honesty of this blog has been helpful for others. In all fairness, it’s a cathartic process which has also been useful to me – and of late I’ve ignored it a little at a cost which will start to become apparent. So, here’s an attempt to get the reflection and space to breathe back on track.
So far, so….well, that’s the tricky bit. In some ways it has been good. Let’s start with the physical side. As those of you on medication will know, each type of drug has its own physical side effects. For me this affected me in a number of ways. Its hard to talk about all of them in this forum, but let’s just say that they left me feeling frustrated. This is one side effect which I am glad has disappeared and with it there has been a reduction is some stresses of life. However, since stopping the medication I have felt much more tired and quite lethargic. It’s almost as if somebody has taken the fuel injection away at times. So shall we mark that one at 50%?
And what about my mental well-being? As the old song says, there may be trouble ahead and its a combination of things that let me face the music and dance. Sometimes this is with outright success where my brain almost switches off and my reactions feel normal (whatever that may mean!). At other times the second voice kicks in to remind me of what I need to to do. And there are the times when I feel like facing up to the challenge, shaking hands and sitting it out. You might think that is rather depressing and at the time for me it certainly can. But sitting here typing now I feel a small glow of satisfaction that I am aware of my limitations. With time I can push at the edge of these and grow a bit more. But each step at a time and yes I’m writing that as much to remind myself as I am to tell all of you. I think we’ll give this about 40% so far. In government speak there’s room for improvement, at least I’ve got the tools and resources to make it happen.
And with the start of the Tour de France, lets employ a few analogies that will no doubt be embedded in the commentaries for the next 3 weeks. My time on the drugs is almost like week 1 – a fast and furious ride, attacks each day and the focus of the race constantly shifting. But week 1 is the start and by its end a pattern is emerging. Week 2 is where it all starts – the climbs increase in intensity, the mountains loom on the horizon and the real battle begin. This is what it is like being drug free. But as has become the mantra of the British Cycling coaches, it’s all about marginal gains. When you’re coming off the drugs its time to mark those margins, plug away at the next success, knowing that smashing records isn’t always what is needed, doing just enough to win is. In some ways I’m struggling. In other ways I’m winning. Each stage at a time and lets see where it takes me.