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This is my story by Christine - 01/05/2021 :: 31/12/2021

 

1. Never give up! When things get tough, just keep going.

I had to wake up at 5am in the morning to get ready. I had trouble sleeping the night before. Anxiety kicked in. I did not train at all for this run as I was on full time work / placement / school / church. I hardly even had time to sleep the past few months, let alone train for a run. I was really scared how on earth I was going to do it. I had the runs and had to keep going to the little girl’s room all morning. In my mind I was trying to find all sorts of excuses for myself on how I could get out of this run. Then I thought to myself the speech I always told the youths at the prevention and recovery centre…

“Life is like marathon, its long and it sucks and it seems never ending but if you keep putting one foot ahead of the other and don’t give up, you will eventually cross the finishing line.”

Many people give up on things when it gets hard or when they experience setbacks. The ones that succeed are the ones that keep pushing through the pain and never give up no matter what. I have been a role model for many of the youths at my recovery centre. I told myself I was not going into work the next day without my finisher medal and kept putting one foot in front of my other feet till I crossed the finishing line.

2. Life and recovery can be unpredictable like the weather, if you wait for the right conditions, you’ll never get anything done. Or do you give up when the storms in life approach?

The weather was beautiful on Saturday when we picked up our race bibs. It was warm, it was sunny, and it was perfect conditions. I could not say the same for Sunday. It was so cold in the morning. Thankfully things warmed up a little when the sun came up and the run was off to a slightly less than perfect start. However, as I continued running I noticed dark clouds from afar approaching the city. The temperature started to drop and by the time I was approaching the finishing line, the raindrops came. Thankfully I bought a raincoat the day before and went prepared for wet weather conditions.

Life and mental health recovery can be like the weather, especially Melbourne’s weather. It is highly unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen. Do you wait for the sun to come up and the weather to warm up before you start your run? Or like yesterday, it might kind of look perfect at the start and in a blink of an eye, storms appear. Is that a reason for you to give up then?

No please don’t wait for anything or anybody. You have a race to run, you have set your mind to it, you have committed. You know what you have to do to reach your goals and get the thing done. Just go do it!

 3. Sometimes, you will have to get through hell before you get to heaven. It sure felt like hell running the Melbourne Marathon.

I have been having shin splints for months and no matter what I did, it does seem to want to go away. It was annoying and to make matters worse, I twisted my ankle two Fridays ago. Not a good thing to happen just before a long run.

What I learnt however was that in life all sorts of circumstances and pain will happen to you and you end up in a dark place. Like running, sometimes you fall down and hurt yourself. With all things worth pursuing, you are going to get knocked down, stepped on, and rejected along the way. Consider this to be part of the path to your goals. Sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination.

Sometimes life is a smooth path that you run on and sometimes it’s a rocky uphill road you have to take. It is not about what happens to you, it is about how you respond to your pain. It is about making those decisions to allow the pains in life (the hell) cripple or worse still paralyse you or that conscious decision that you are going to carry on in life and push through that hell you are experiencing. When hell blows over, you will experience heaven. The euphoria that one experience when crossing that finishing line is indescribable. One has to go and do it and experience it for themselves to know what I am talking about.

4. You define your own limits and go beyond your limits every day and watch the magic happen.

Last year this time, I could not even run after a tram. I would be breathless and think I’m going to faint if I even manage to catch it. Over the Christmas period at Matthew’s place I would try and run to the end of the road and get breathless and walk back. This summer I went and spent my school holidays at Matthew’s again and this time I could run around the block twice. My first run was a 5km age run and I completed it in about half an hour. Even though my bucket list was to complete a half marathon this year and only managed a 10km run, I am pushing my limits every time I run.

Your limits aren’t put unto you by your parents, other people, or the universe. You are in total control of it. You decide whether or not to shoot for the moon or stay right where you are. Each time you try, aim a little higher, aim a little further. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve if you just push yourself a little. W. Clement Stone once said "Always aim for the Moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." I did better than I thought I would. I did not give up, I managed to complete the run and in a pretty good timing too injury and all… 

5. You are NEVER alone in this journey called recovery…

It was hard, there were moments during the run I wanted to give up but I thought about my friends. I thought about Matthew who first inspired me to take up running, who himself was running the Chicago Marathon this very weekend. I thought about Eddie who took time and effort to train and discipline me into running when he had better things in life to do than to put up with my winching. I thought about Jamie who completed an Ultra Marathon who did a trail run the day before. I thought about Jessica and David who ran and raised funds for blood cancer earlier this year and Jess ran with an injury without complain. I thought about Kenneth, Amanda, Emily friends who ran and never gave up. I thought about Joe and Geoff who came and joined me in my madness even though they have ran away ahead of me already. I thought about all the clinicians that helped and supported me along the way in my mental health recovery. I was never alone. I had friends and people who cared who inspired, encouraged and cheered me on for doing this. I was not going to give up, I was not going to disappoint.

I DID IT!

Thank you y’all who believed in me and never gave up on me… and if you are reading this and am on a journey of mental health recovery, know that you are never alone and if you keep putting your foot forward, you will eventually reach the finishing line!

 

Christine Teo

MHFA Victorian Multicultural Ambassador 2021

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The Mental Health Foundation Australia acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to their elders both past and present.

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