“Freedom from all of the scars and the sins lest we drown in the darkness within”
Machine Head “Darkness Within”
Before I even start writing I know I have friends who go through far worse than me. And there’s probably so many more who have never told me what issues they have.
I’ve had a fair few people be weird with me for ‘not understanding them’ when they don’t actually help me or anyone else understand what their problem is. Anyway I’m not psychic and if you don’t want me to know what’s wrong then your problem will remain just that. All yours. And you’ll just seem like you are being an idiot. Talking to people does help but only you can help yourself when it all boils down to it.
Incidentally talking doesn’t really help me I have ‘other ways’ of dealing with things.
There’s been plenty of sources of pressure lately, the trigger that set me off though in a nutshell was getting way too involved with someone way too fast. And obviously that didn’t work out.
There are far bigger things to be concerned about right now but that was like the fuse to a bigger firework. I’m still learning to cope with anxiety anyway being as I only found out a few months ago I’ve had it since I was about ten years old. That may seem strange considering what I do for fun if you have read any of the other blogs….
The thing is I don’t run away from my issues I literally run at them. Danger wise what I’m about to do is nothing compared to what I have done in the past however. How it’s been explained to me is it’s my ‘Fight or flight’ being overactive. Thing is I don’t run from anything anymore, it’s always fight for me and it can be exhausting because apparently I’m capable of making a lot of adrenaline. It’s just just exhausting though and it physically hurts as the adrenaline breaks down, it makes you ache all over to not just punch something some days. And some days there’s people who I really want to punch.
It’s been a weird week anyway after everything seeming to go wrong I thought I’d start doing one positive thing a day, like booking my driving lessons to finish them and stepping up my fitness training. In fact in the last week I’ve ran, swam and even done a 50 mile bike ride. Still It hasn’t really helped and I’ve just found out one of my ‘positive’ actions which was trying the ‘Primal’ diet can be pretty dangerous if you have a thyroid issue (yup got one of those too) if you don’t get enough carbs. And judging by the fact I feel like I’ve just given blood I don’t think I’ve been eating enough carbs.
I’ve been pretty wobbly the last few days with weird aches and pains caused by my body now burning fat instead of carbs and the mere sight of bread actually hurts. I also gave up caffeine…and sugar. Apparently all of this can cause headaches, mood swings. Worst case scenario is it could actually make my thyroid problem even worse. Long story short though I’m currently a high functioning mess and my internal organs hurt which isn’t good being as well…that’s linked to thyroid also. But I haven’t died or got fat so I guess I’m ok.
Anyway that brings me to what I’m about to do…….I’m going to try and scare the poo out of myself.
Running off long distance alone into the dark when you are already flooded with adrenaline and in a less than healthy state to put your body through some proper stress is pretty much the opposite of what most people would think you should do. Maybe it’s best to count this as aversion therapy. I’ve the local hills plenty but in not so much in the dark and feeling physically and mentally fragile I know this will be terrifying right now. I want it to be though because it’ll give a sense of perspective. It’s the same reason I climb too because it terrifies me.
I know if I can do this with the anxiety through the roof and the awful feeling I have in my stomach, everything else is going to feel insignificant.Though considering I’m pretty dizzy and feeling nauseous I decide taking an energy gel with me might be a good idea just in case I wob out. Hopefully not in mid run because I like having teeth. Also I don’t fancy collapsing on the hill because I wouldn’t be found until morning.
After about six miles I run up the dual carriageway and past creepy Hagley Wood. I peer into the darkness on purpose trying to freak myself out a bit, and it is pretty scary looking in there. Especially when you consider one of our local legends…..
“On 18th April 1943 four Stourbridge teenagers, Fred Payne, Tommy Willetts, Robert Hart and Bob Farmer discovered the remains of a woman inside a hollow Wych Elm (also known as Scots (Scotch) Elm or Ulmus glabra) in Hagley Wood. It has been suggested that ritualistic magic or even wartime espionage may have been behind this murder mystery that after sixty years is still a focus of interest”
I run towards the area where the legend ‘Who Put Bella In The Witch Elm is skill daubed across the obelisk. I’m not heading there tonight I’ll be turning right and up the back of the hills, along dark and quiet paths and through the woods. My target for the night is the standing stone circle which sits on top of Clent Hills. And the only thing standing between me and those stones are not knowing whats in the dark, anxiety, myself. And hopefully no serial killers.
With the Badgers Sett pub in view it sets my mind on the story of the ghost cavalier here…told by an off duty policeman….
“suddenly the figure of a man ran out of the car park…..He was dressed like one of the old cavalier soldiers – the big hat, boots, red uniform and sword. My initial thought was that the pub was holding a fancy dress party and some drunk was larking about”
“Suddenly he sprinted out diagonally across the road in front of me towards Hagley Hall. I slammed my breaks on but knew, at 60 mph, it was too late. I went straight into him and swung the steering wheel right round.”
“My car screeched to a halt whilst spinning on its own axis a full 180 degrees. I finally came to a stop facing the opposite direction, the wrong way down a one-way main road, tyre smoke everywhere.”
“I sat there in stunned silence clutching the steering wheel, thinking the absolute worst – I’d just killed a man. It was only later I recalled that there was actually no sound when my car collided with him. I sat there in stunned silence thinking the absolute worst – I’d just killed a man.”
“I got out and looked for the body on the road. Nothing. I checked the field next to the car, the hedge and finally under the car itself. Nothing. It was deadly quiet. I looked across at the pub – it was in total darkness.”
Even though a big part of me just wants to give up and have a pint in the Badgers Sett I know I won’t be happy until I’m stood in those standing stones. So I keep running.
Hopping over a style into the fields the temperature seems to plummet. I’m not sure if it just got suddenly cold or maybe I’m just imagining it. I run up the farmers road in the fading dusk towards the darkness with the sun setting in the sky behind me like blood smeared across the horizon.
I feel like I’m being watched, which I probably am by the local wildlife trying to understand why humans run.
Into the woods I go for bit and I stop for a second to see ten pairs of yellow disembodied eyes floating in the darkness illuminated by the beam of my head torch. So I guess that feeling of being watched wasn’t that irrational! I know these are just foxes though, well I hope so….
I run through the first field and have to laugh as with everything going on in my head I hadn’t noticed something that should have been a real world worry. As worries go getting a bulls horn tearing through your nether regions is pretty valid.
Running up the path from the car park I discover another real world problem when I nearly get hit in the face by a friendly bat. I head towards the standing stones to watch the last of the light die. At night it’s pretty creepy by the stones abut I know it’s going to make a great photo. And just like Hagley Wood the stones are pretty mysterious.
“There is even some speculation that an earlier ancient monument may have existed where the Four Stones stand today. The site has certainly caught the attention of local neo-pagans. From time-to-time small offerings of fruit, flowers, feathers and coins are left next to the stones. The most easterly megalith has also been carefully engraved with a star or pentagram which has been etched with yellow. As a local historian pointed out: either they’re very deluded or they know something we don’t.” (Source https://britainexplorer.com/listing/the-four-stones/)
I can see someone has recently had a fire in the stone circle, I’m going to assume it was Wiccans but you never know….but it’s more likely kids who have raided their parents drinks cabinet.
Well I’ve made it to the top without being murdered, taken out by a bull, collapsing or accidentally swallowing a bat so that’s all good. I’ve still got about four miles to go but as I’m running everything’s now in realistic order in my mind. I’m starving. I really want a glass of wine the size of my head.
I run past the Lych gate of medieval St Kenelm’s church in the darkness. Lych (Apparently an adaptation of the anglo-saxon ‘lich’ which means corpse) gate literally means ‘corpse gate’ and it’s where they would store a coffin while they waited for a priest to arrive. If you are religious it’s meant to mark the division between consecrated and unconsecrated ground. At this point though pretty much all of the negative thoughts are gone, I could camp in the graveyard at this point if it wasn’t so cold.
I’m running the road home and I check the time…I’ts just gone 11pm and my body aches, I feel sick, I’ve ran 12 miles but it’s felt like a marathon in my head. But I feel great, because I just ran through hell in my head and out the other side smiling.
I win, for now. The demons haven’t gone. But I’ve left them alone in the darkness of the hills sulking like little bitches. And now it’s time to plan the next adventure which funnily enough looks like its going to be Transylvania and the Carparthian mountains……
Check out my activity on Strava: https://strava.app.link/vM5d16BcXW