My Not So Secret Diary

Easter Break

Easter Break daffodils outside quarantine spring blog about recovery and sobriety living My Not So Secret Diary

I've been thinking about where to spend the holidays. So far it is very weather dependent, but I've managed to narrow it down to the lounge or the garden. 😁
What are your plans? 💜💜


Quiet antidepressants working to help calm my anxiet, out for a run in Cornwall on a sunny day in quarantine for covid-19 and coronavirus, writing for my blog My Not So Secret Diary about sobriety and mental health
Mid-run selfie!

A month or so ago I finally gave in and admitted I needed some help with my anxiety. I’ve done everything I can by myself, but it’s exhausting to keep having to fight my mind at every turn. It can be something insignificant, or just a change in situation, but my mind circles and worries and blows things out of proportion escalating to panic attacks at times. I’ve always been interested in alternative therapies and actually trained as a holistic therapist years ago. Since giving up alcohol, I’ve tried to employ all manner of alternative ways of defusing my anxiety and keeping my mind calm. You name it, I’ve tried it, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, oils, crystals, walking, running, everything. They all help a little, but nothing takes the edge off my busy mind like wine used to.

Really, I should have gone a long time ago, but I don’t really trust doctors so I avoid at all costs if I can. Past experience has taught me that they don’t always listen and they don’t always help. However, I saw a physiotherapist a few months ago who suggested I saw someone about my mental health. She could clearly see I was struggling and I hadn’t expected that. She pointed out that I had a lot of coping strategies in place, and when they weren’t there, I struggled more. I listened but dismissed her. On my next appointment she suggested it again, and again I thanked her and told her I was okay. She was keen for me to see someone, so I felt it was easier to discontinue my appointments with her. Not long after, I had a phone call from the doctors surgery, asking me to make an appointment to follow up from a letter from the physio. I made the appointment, but cancelled it not long after, not wanting to waste it if someone else needed it.

Deciding I needed to finally address things I phoned and asked to see my doctor who was of course fully booked for the following two months. I explained to the receptionist about the physio referring me, and promptly burst into tears which I hadn’t expected. It takes a lot for me to ask for help and I find it so hard, so it makes me emotional. Anyway, the poor receptionist then conjured up a new appointment for me. My doctor is lovely, and was really helpful towards the end of my drinking, she was the one who prescribed my Antabuse which helped me finally kick it. Although it was a way off, it was a relief having the appointment, but of course, as I do, I began to convince myself that I didn’t really need it and that I was wasting their time. Usually I would have cancelled it, but this time I didn’t. The night before, I was certain I should cancel it, but I still didn’t. So I went. I waited for the doctor to tell me I was being silly, that I didn’t need anything to help me along, that maybe it was all in my head. But she didn’t. She listened and she seemed to understand.

I explained how things have been since I stopped drinking. How I am so much better, but I still have so far to go, that I don’t want to worry about ridiculous things that aren’t even going to happen, but it’s like my mind needs to. That sometimes it runs away with me. She didn’t judge and she didn’t tell me I was silly.

When I had my laser eye surgery last year, my surgeon recommended I take Diazepam for the day. It’s something I’ve been prescribed in the past before as a relaxant for the muscles in my neck which I damaged a long time ago but I don’t take, as I know how addictive they are and it frightens me. I don’t quite trust myself, given my history, so I prefer not to risk it. I did however take it on the day of my surgery and I was amazed at the effect it had on me. I still felt like me, just a calmer me. I expected to feel more out of it, and I was happy that I didn’t. That was one of the things that made me think going to the GP might be useful, that maybe there was a medication that could help. That was in November, but it took me until March to actually get there. The doctor understood my worries and offered me a few options of things. Apparently beta blockers can take away the physical symptoms of panic attacks, but I think now I’ve got a fairly good handle on that side of things, it’s just my mind that is too busy. So she went through some others, all non-addictive ones, so I don’t have to worry and then gave me a prescription.

It was so nice to finally be heard. I’ve asked for help from the doctors over the years and been brushed off. I told her that nothing quietened my mind like wine did and she listened, she didn’t tell me to pull myself together or any of that crap and it made me feel better.

So, we’ll see how it does. What I can tell you is that my mind currently feels the most quiet it has in a long time. I can concentrate on the TV again or on reading, without my mind wandering off somewhere else. I feel like me, just more relaxed. I’m glad I went before this whole crisis kicked off, it’s certainly helping me keep calmer! It’s good. So I hope it lasts. I’ll let you know.

Thanks as always.


Importing Medals?

importing medals running with my son at Looe 10 Miler Hillish and Hellish on Saturday in Cornwall and writing about it for my sobriety blog My Not So Secret Diary
Me and Barn at our 10 miler.

You may have gathered I like to run. I sign myself up for a lot of races because I find it very easy not to run, and to find other things to do instead, but when I run I feel a lot better, both inside and out. Having a race to go to is like a little nudge that I have to go, rather than put it off. It gives me a focus to train for and a reason to keep going. I do feel the pressure, I have a habit of biting off a little bit more than I can chew, and then worrying about it beforehand, although so far I’ve only done one race longer than a half marathon. It always seems like a good idea, even though the closer they get the more nervous I feel, but because I have put my name down and paid for my space, I always go, even running a half marathon in terrible weather with a warning out for wind and rain like I did recently!

Having a reason works well for me though, it takes away the thinking part and stops me making excuses for myself. I have good intentions when I get up in the morning, but rarely run before work as there is no one about to look after our little one then. By the time I’ve been through a day at work though, that run doesn’t seem such a good idea. I’ve been a bit better since my running son joined his club. Taking him to training at least twice a week means I’m waiting for him for over an hour. It’s about ten miles, so a bit far to go home before I go back to pick him up, so I use the time sometimes to write as there is a lovely cafe at the track, but also to run. While he is on the track I go for a little explore around the local area. It’s good to have a reason and nice to run somewhere different too.

Going back to racing though, my first ever ‘long’ race was a year ago and called Hillish and Hellish. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? It’s ten miles out and back from a town in Cornwall and it is mighty hilly, but as I was training for my first half marathon I thought it would be good as an interim race. I resigned myself to just walking some of it if I had to, but I shouldn’t have worried, all but the fastest did walk the hills as they were so steep. Although it was hard I really enjoyed it, and it was the first race I’d been to where there was very little waste, for example, they gave all the finishers a great little rucksack full of goodies rather than a plastic bag. Even better, but the goodies themselves included tea, which was a welcome change to the beer I often find thrown in.

Like I said, although it was hard, I actually really enjoyed it - well I must have, because I signed up again this year. I quite like races with hills, it gives me a reason to slow down and pace myself, rather than go flat out (for me) and end up hurting! Although to be fair I still hurt! When it’s flat though, I do struggle to realise how fast or far I am going.

I was very surprised to see a post from the event organisers a week before the event, telling the runners that only the first ones to book, before the early-bird closed would get their medals on the day. I’m pretty sure that I was in early, I normally am, as I panic I won’t get a place if I wait too long, but I can’t be sure. The organisers said that they would post out the medals as soon as they got them to all the other runners, but they were currently in quarantine in China due to the Coronavirus outbreak! Now, I don’t have a problem with the quarantine of course, if it’s a delay due to safety then fair enough. But, I do have a bit of a problem with the need to import them from the other side of the world when there are plenty of companies that can make them in this country.

I do love a good medal, as many other runners do, but do we really need to source them from so far away? Putting the environmental impact of the making of the medals to one side, it seems at odds with many of today’s values to be obtaining something from so far away and in such high quantities. With many runners enjoying the environment and the freedom of the outdoors, and races moving towards generating less waste, this just feels a little wrong to me. I know that there are other alternatives out there too, and it’s frustrating not to see other options being explored. I wish I had the nerve to say something to the event organisers, but I am so afraid of upsetting people that I don’t. Someone else did though, not long after I read the comment, and they clearly weren’t impressed with the fact that the medals weren’t remotely local. I watched eagerly to see what would be the response. The organisers replied that they do use a local company as many of the other races in the area do, but that company outsources to China. That doesn’t seem much like a local company to me, in fact it just seems a poor excuse to try to say something is local when it clearly isn’t. It’s sad, because I like to support local races, companies and well everything really, but in an event like this, when they are asking for local companies to support them, but then increasing the number of runners considerably, it seems like they are taking the help for granted and not really considering what the local businesses are having to donate in order to support the race, especially when they are then paying foreign companies for their medals. I’m not sure who is meant to benefit in a situation like this.

There were a lot of comments on the post, of runners offering to give their medals away to runners that really wanted them, but I don’t know if that happened. In a world where we are meant to be focusing on less waste and more sustainability, this whole issue doesn’t really sit well with me. If you’re wondering though, I did come away with my medal which probably makes me hypocritical in some ways, as I don’t necessarily agree with how it’s made, and yet, it would have only been wasted if all the runners had refused them. It’s a hard one isn’t it?

What do you all think?

Thanks for reading,
Claire x


What is the world coming to?

What is the world coming to? Two year old running at Lands End in Cornwall for my blog My Not So Secret Diary
Stanley running away from things at Lands End yesterday.

I don’t want to complain, but I am going to. I’m quite angry you see.

I popped to the shops this morning, not for a lot, just for a few bits that we were running short of and dinner for tonight. I often go on a Wednesday morning as it’s my day off work. The shelves are pretty bare and it’s impossible to buy meat, eggs, milk, flour or toilet rolls, but thankfully they have stocked up on biscuits since I was last there, when they had completely run out. On the door, along with the hand washing advice was a sign to say they’d be closing at midnight rather than operating 24 hour opening times in order to restock shelves. I’d seen that on the news this morning, well at least, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons had been mentioned, but I assume Asda had just followed suit.

I was shopping with Stanley so didn’t want to be ages, shopping with a two year old is stressful at the best of times, but I have to say as I wandered around the store, I began to feel pretty positive. I didn’t want to buy indiscriminately, as I am conscious many people also need to make do with what is on the shelves at the moment, but I managed to sort out a few meals. The lack is making me nervous, I haven’t panic bought, but it is obvious others are, and having a little bit of food for the family made me relax considerably.

Once we had finished I loaded the shopping onto the conveyor belt to go through the self scan. A lady came up to me as I was scanning and told me she’d, “Have to take this”, pointing to a packet of chicken Kievs on the end of the belt. I wasn’t sure I’d heard and asked to her repeat herself which she did to my surprise. I asked why, to be told they’d limited it to three items. I was really surprised, and asked why no one had told me. She said, “There were signs everywhere!” I hadn’t seen them, and to be honest, unless it was really obvious, I may not have noticed with Stanley helping me shop. But I told her I needed that amount for dinner, it’s not like I was buying excessively, I just wanted enough to feed all of my children rather than some of them. She told me unsympathetically that I’d have to come back tomorrow. It isn’t particularly helpful, as that means not only braving the bare shelves of the shops again, but considering we have been advised to reduce our socialisation, it seems silly to encourage people to return more often than needed to the shops.

I was annoyed, to be honest. I get that we need to be considerate of others, but I feel that needs to be extended to everyone in this situation. I, like many, have children to feed, and I don’t want them to go hungry, I was buying considerately, and had very little in my trolley, so while I get there needs to be rules, this just seems unfair. But, I couldn’t do anything about it, so I tried to let it go and continued to scan the rest of our things. The lady then came back and began to paw through the rest of my shopping, checking what I had and removing a packet of tortellini, and some chicken goujons.

At this point I was beyond angry. I felt violated, having someone pick through my shopping and take what she saw fit. I’d purposely picked things with long dates to feed the family, that would avoid me having to come back to the shops over the next few days, and her attitude absolutely stank. What also didn’t help was that I had seen other people putting multiple bags of frozen chicken and other items into their trolleys as I had walked down the frozen aisle. I guess, where I made my mistake, was by not scanning as I shopped. It seemed that the people who packed their bags in their trolleys as they went were left alone. It just makes it worse, to me to think that those really loading up are left to it, and the honest people are the ones who miss out.

We are all in this together at the moment, so the sooner people start realising that and being less selfish, the better.

Claire x


Am I The Only One?

Am I The Only One? My Not So Secret Diary
Are these really as funny as they are meant to be?

I’m getting a bit sick of all the posts trying to convince me that I should be drinking more in light of the current situation with Coronavirus. I know they are meant to be funny, but I’m beginning to find them more and more offensive, especially when they are coupled with comments about wanting to escape from the kids to hole up alone. I don’t get it. Why do people feel the need to drink away all their sense at the moment, or at least joke that they are doing it?

My news feed is filled with drinking related posts and memes like it at the moment, and I just don’t understand it. Surely if the situation is as bad as it looks like it’s getting, we should be aware, we should be looking out for ourselves and others, not just drinking? I understand too, that many people moderate, but these posts, at least the ones I’m seeing aren’t relating to moderate drinking, they are all pointing towards the excess and that is the bit that bothers me.

You name it, I’ve seen it recently, pictures of fridges full of wine with comments like, “I’ve got no loo paper but I’m ready!” I understand that we need to retain our sense of humour but I don’t see why so much supposed fun should be alcohol related.

I’m glad I have a clear mind, a calm (as far as I go) outlook, and am not panicked about the stocks of wine at home. That would be the last thing I need right now. It’s bad enough when I went shopping last week to see the shelves empty of pasta, soap and toilet rolls. If I had to worry about wine too, it would probably push me over the edge.

Then there are the jokes about drinking alcohol as protection due to the lack of antibacterial soaps and handwashes at the moment. I’m sure that again these are supposed to be funny, but I’m not sure that I really think encouraging drinking is helpful. We’re experiencing a pandemic that is making many thousands of people ill and killing many more, why should we joke about replacing it with alcohol, another substance that causes more harm than good and can create a disease that makes many thousands of people ill and kills many more?

We have to think about the example we are setting for our young people too. Do we really want them to think that in tricky situations we have to reach for a bottle (or three) and drown our sorrows? Do we want to teach our kids that we have to bury our heads in the sand, or a bottle, rather than deal with difficulties? Or that we’d rather spend time drinking than with them? I know I don’t. I want to do the best job I can, and that means being 100% present whenever and wherever I can. Alcohol removes your inhibitions and barriers, but it doesn’t help fix anything. On the whole, it just makes things worse, and then you have a hangover to deal with too. I can say for sure, that I don’t miss it at all.

Thanks for reading, stay safe everyone!
Claire x


The Current Situation

The Current Situation my son Barn running the Vitality Little Half in London awareness of the covid19 virus coronavirus and anxiety and alcohol addiction recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary
Barn running in London.

I didn’t really want to write about Covid-19 on my blog, it seems like it’s everywhere, and I didn’t want to add to it. But…

I honestly didn’t think it would affect everyone to the point that it has. Mostly when we get something contagious, it’s contained relatively quickly and the only people that are affected are those who have travelled to some far off country or put themselves at risk in some other way. This new virus seems to be relatively indiscriminating as we don’t know enough about it to do anything. I mean, yes of course, everyone is washing their hands, but on the verge of something of this scale, is it really enough? I’m not sure.

I don’t usually panic about the news, in fact, I tend not to watch it too much. I confess though, that yesterday at work, I had Sky News running in the corner of my screen so I could keep up to date while I worked. The problem is, it has the chance to affect so much, so many of us and to so many different levels. My husband and I run a business, and so like many others, we aren’t only worrying about how this virus will affect us and our family, but we have the balancing act of worrying about how it will impact our staff, and the greater impact it will have on the company and other local businesses on the whole in the long run. It seems that every year something new is sent to challenge us!

On top of that, my running son is at the end of his Cross Country season, with loads of Championship Competitions to run. Last week he went to Loughborough and this morning I had to put him on the Cornwall Team Coach going to Liverpool for the Nationals tomorrow. They’ll be away most of the weekend, and he is so happy to get to where he is, but I can’t help but be a bit worried. I normally do worry when the kids travel without me, I think it’s just the lack of control I have for them travelling with others. I know they’ll be safe, but still I worry a bit. Of course, this time there is the concern, not so much for him and the other athletes, as they are all young and fit, but the fact that they might come into contact with the infection and perhaps bring it back? I know they’re limiting the time they spend in service stations, but they will still be stopping for breaks as well as staying and eating in a hotel.

Down in Cornwall we seem to be largely doing okay at the moment, there haven’t been a huge amount of cases, and although I know schools are putting in extra measures, there doesn’t seem to be too much to worry about on that front. On the other hand, going into the shops on Wednesday, I picked up the last bag of pasta, not kidding, it was all gone, as was all the soap and toilets rolls. I left, to take my daughter to college, and needed fuel, having been on the fuel light for ages went to the petrol station, but they were queued up the road. I thought nothing of it, took Katie to college and came back for fuel but they were still queued right up. In the end, I had to join the queue as I was so low, but it seems to be normal now for people to be filling up all the time. I wasn’t expecting that. I guess people like to be prepared.

I was in two minds about letting Barn go to be honest, I know he is in the same country as us still, but I can’t help be concerned. I just worry that something will happen. I can’t imagine we’ll end up with road blocks in place over the weekend, but who knows? The way the virus is spreading so far, I guess we don’t know what measures will end up being put into place. I’d hoped, probably a little selfishly, that the event would be cancelled and that the decision would be taken out of my hands. I waited to hear, and was surprised when they said it was going ahead, but due to the fact it’s in the open air, the risk seems minimal, with the only concern being travelling and accommodation. I don’t want him to miss out, so I didn’t say no. He’s supposed to be going to Spain in July with the school, who knows what will be happening by then!

I can tell you though, although I hope he and the team have a great time, I will relax a bit more when he gets back on Sunday!

Stay safe everyone!
Claire x


An Inspector Calls…

An Inspector Calls theatre royal in Plymouth to see a show with my son blog about alcohol addiction and overcoming My Not So Secret Diary
Barn and me.

My 14 year old son Barn is sitting his English GCSE’s this year. He’s the third of my four to sit these exams so I know roughly what to expect, but that doesn’t make it any easier for him. Just before Christmas he came home to tell me there was a trip to the Theatre Royal in Plymouth to see one of the main plays in his syllabus, ‘An Inspector Calls’. He was interested in going, but by the time I’d logged onto the school’s online payment system not long after, all the available places had gone. He was disappointed, and me being me, I felt like I’d let him down by not getting him a place, even though there was little else I could do. I thought about it and suggested booking it separately and just the two of us going, I wasn’t sure if he would want to go with me or not, but he was happy to, as long as we went on a different day to the rest of the school.

I’d forgotten I hadn’t taken him to the theatre before. It’s something I used to love, and I often used to go with some of my friends, before, when an evening out involved wine. I took my daughter a few years back to see Hairspray which was fun, but even then I was a little preoccupied with wanting to get home afterwards for a glass of wine. I didn’t drink when I was ‘on duty’ as a mum, and not at all when I was driving, but that didn’t stop me wanting to. I always noticed what other people were drinking and felt envious of those who had something I didn’t.

Since I stopped drinking I have got out of the habit of going out. Everything has been a little harder than it was before. I felt for a long time, rightly or wrongly, that I’d be judged, and to be honest staying in felt safer and easier. When you’re in the habit of going home straight after work and staying in all evening, it takes quite a lot to change your habits. It’s scary, and pushes you out of your comfort zone, which is hard when you’re already feeling on edge. I’ve had to relearn a lot of routines and behaviours. I’ve had to acknowledge and sit with feelings I didn’t even know I had. It’s not all bad though. It’s just new.

Although I was looking forward to going out with Barn, I still had that familiar pull reminding me that it would easier to stay at home. I worried that I would be tired in the morning for work, I worried that I would be tired to make the drive home. But, as I try to do at the moment, I pushed myself. We went and it was great. As I said, Barn had never been before and it was lovely to enjoy the experience with him. He was surprised at how big the theatre was, and hadn’t see a live performance like that before so it was all quite new. I did let him down a bit though, only in that I’d promised him ice cream in the interval, and there wasn’t one. I’ll have to make it up to him next time!

I’ve read a couple of books by a writer called Jen Sincero. In one she said, “When you change who you’re being, you’re basically killing off your old identity, which completely freaks your subconscious out.” It’s true. It takes time to change, and you’re fighting against all your ingrained and learned habits that have been with you for years. Before, I always used to feel rushed to get home. I knew that waiting for me there was my familiar glass of wine. My reward at the end of the day. Things do change and although it has taken a lot of time, finally some things seem to be getting a little easier.

I often, although not as often as I used to, get a fleeting panic when it’s getting late at work or similar. I feel like I should be rushing home, but when I stop and think, I realise I have no reason for it. I used to worry about early mornings or late afternoon appointments because they might have affected my plans. Now, they don’t. I can pretty much do what I want to do and there’s no hangover or residual alcohol left hanging around upsetting things. It’s a good place to be. So if you are going through something similar, hang in there. There will be ups and downs, but it does get easier.

Thanks for reading!
Claire x



Love - daytrip to London with my husband Lee to run the vitality half marathon wedding anniversary blog My Not So Secret Diary
Me and Lee.

Addiction is non-discriminating, it doesn’t care who you are, where you are from or what you look like. I learned that in recovery. I met people from all walks of life and few were the stereotypes you think of when you imagine what an addict might look like.

Aside from the substances we were recovering from there was nothing that linked us. It was this invisible cord, all of us different, and yet so similar. It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t been through it how it feels to want something you hate, and it’s impossible for them to understand when they don’t live in your crazy brain.

All the way through my ups and downs I have been lucky enough to have one constant, my husband Lee. While he couldn’t always make things easier for me, I certainly couldn’t have done it without him. He has always been there, always tried to understand, even when I didn’t understand myself. I know I’ve made things hard for him over the years, and even at my best, I know I can be a bit of a pain at times, but he is patient, kind and understanding, and I feel so lucky to have him. If I didn’t have him, I don’t know where I’d be now.

So, I suppose, what I’d like to say is, if you have someone that is always there for you, even if they don’t quite get it right, make sure you tell them how much you appreciate it. And if you’re one of those that is always there for someone who is struggling, hang in there, they do appreciate it, even if they don’t say it.

Today is our 19th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary Lee, I love and appreciate you more than you know.

As always, thank you.
Claire x


The Fear

The Fear admitting to addiction and overcoming it writing a blog to share experiences as a mum with a two year old son My Not So Secret Diary
Say cheese!

I know how I felt about admitting I needed help, but just recently I’ve come to realise I’m not the only one who felt like that. It’s terrifying to admit you need help for anything when you’re used to being a strong, independent person. To come to rely on something, on a substance, and then realise you can’t do without it is an awful feeling. It makes you feel powerless and it destroys relationships, you might feel you can’t talk to anyone, and may not trust yourself, because every time you promise yourself you won’t drink anymore, you let yourself down.

There isn’t a rule book for dealing with addiction, though thankfully more and more people are beginning to talk about it. The stigma is being broken and it is easier to ask for help or if not ask, it’s easier to access shared experiences.

I don’t think the openness actually makes it easier to talk to your loved ones though. They are the hardest to talk to. Although an addict’s mind is centred primarily on getting the next fix, and the logistics of getting it, ultimately they are at their lowest point when they need help, and admitting that they need it is not only almost impossible, but worse than that is the possibility that they might fail.

I knew I had a problem quite a while before I stopped drinking. They say you need to hit rock bottom and I think that is probably right. I was scared to admit it though, once I had got through the questioning and the denial, because I wasn’t sure 1) how I would cope without alcohol in my life but more importantly 2) I was afraid if I did admit it, that I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. I didn’t want to seem weak, and unable to kick my habit, even though realistically, I couldn’t kick it. Looking back I know I wasn’t weak, but ill, only then I didn’t understand that. I was so afraid of letting my family down. It was frightening.

Everyone is very different in their approaches to life, and their addictions. I’ve just read a book about a woman who ended up stealing money from her family to fund her habit. Her mother even became her carer as she was physically dependent on the habit and unable to get clean. While I know what addiction and dependency on a substance are like, this is a situation I don’t understand. To admit you have a problem and not do your best to get over it doesn’t make sense to me. But then everyone has a different circle of support and as I have said before, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family. At the same point knowing that you are asking them to understand you and stand by you, even though you can be irrational is hard. I know I was irrational, and tearful. I still am at times, but I guess to a certain extent that is normal.

The fear was a big thing for me though, it was there making me feel I couldn’t admit my problem, that I couldn’t move forward, but it was wrong. I am moving forward every day, and every day I move a little bit further from the person I was and that feels good. I’m not even so fearful now that I’ll slip back. I don’t think I will. Although I’ve been told complacency is the worst, as you feel secure and are actually more likely to fail. That doesn’t mean it is easy for me not to drink, I have days where it is quite hard not to feel tempted by alcohol, I guess for me, the difference is that I no longer want to. Now, that is a feeling that makes me feel good.

Thanks for reading!
Claire x


Putting Things into Perspective

Putting Things Into Perspective - Vitality Half running a half marathon in London mental health and overcoming addiction blog My Not So Secret Diary
Running the Vitality Big Half in London.

I don’t like to see runners complaining about how slow they are or how fast they run. For me everyone runs differently, I know there are a lot of people out there that can run a lot quicker than I can, being able to complete a half marathon in almost half the time that I can, and yet, I also know that I can run a lot quicker than some people too. I’d rather be grateful that I run, and that I can complete some long distances than worry about how slow I am.

It is hard, because sometimes I would love to be a bit faster, but realistically, I am a mum of four, who only started running not even two years ago, I’m not training everyday or a professional athlete so I can’t expect to be that fast.

It’s a shame to hear people be so negative about their running when they forget what they are achieving. Although I’m not the fastest, I think it is amazing that I can run a half marathon now. I had no idea that my body would be capable of that, and quite frankly, I don’t think it matters what time it’s done in, if someone is doing it. It’s the same with parkrun. Some people look for the illusive sub 20, when others would be more than happy with a sub 30 or even 40. It shouldn’t matter, my favourite quote, is that we are still lapping everyone on the couch!

It’s easy to forget what we are achieving when it becomes normal and we take it for granted. I was at parkrun a few weeks ago and ran past the Marshalls thanking them as I went as I normally do. One was particularly supportive, cheering us all on and telling us to keep going, that we could all run faster than he could. He wasn’t just being kind, you see, he was in a wheelchair. It was so refreshing to be reminded of what we were all doing and what we were achieving, especially when it is clear that not everyone can.

I think sometimes we’re afraid, it’s easy to put our own achievements down, than wait for someone to do it for us. For example, I know if someone faster than me asks me what time I got in a race, I usually avoid telling them or I might start the sentence with, “I only” or even put an excuse in, maybe about the weather. It’s stupid, because actually, I am proud of my times, I worked hard for them, and while there are people that are faster, I know that I got those times on my own, with no one helping me, just me and my feet.

So we should all be proud, because we can do it, and some people can’t. Because getting out there is better than staying at home. Even if we’re slow, we’re improving, we are out and seeing things that we wouldn’t have done if we stayed at home and maybe connecting with others too. Even if it’s only a smile. Because it all matters.

Thanks for reading!
Claire x


Finding Time to be Playful

Finding Time to be Playful at softplay with my toddler fun time playing exercise sobriety addiction recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary
Stanley and me.

I took my littlest son to a soft play centre last week. He had been jumping on my bed (he’s two), and when I asked him to stop, he asked to go to soft play. It was raining, it’s been a while since I’ve taken him and it was my day off from work so it seemed like a nice thing to do. I’ve always enjoyed things like that, where I can play with the kids, but in all honesty I am not great with the etiquette that goes with it. For example, why do I seem to attract all the children whose parents are happy drinking tea and chatting? I only took one of my children and yet I end up with a trail of others. I don’t mind, but it is awkward, I don’t want to be rude to them, but one in particular was so demanding and I just wanted to play with my son.

I’m a people pleaser, I don’t choose to be but it is one of those annoying habits I can’t quite knock on the head, so I don’t want to upset kids, although I also try not to encourage them. I also feel like I might be judged if I show impatience, even though it shouldn’t matter, I don’t even know these people! I’m not rude and this little one just followed me around trying to tell me all about her holiday on an aeroplane. Stanley tried to talk to her although she was a couple of years older, and mentioned his holiday which was sweet, but she didn’t even hear him. It was clearly an adults attention she was after. I think my experience of working with vulnerable children in the past has also made me wary of dealing with other people’s kids when out and about. It’s all too easy for actions to be misinterpreted and for that reason, I’d prefer not to be in any situation where that could happen.

Eventually I think the child’s mum cottoned on to the fact that I was being followed around, and she left her drink to come and watch her child play, and so Stanley and I had a bit more freedom. It was so nice just being able to run around with him and explore. Being able to go in the week meant it was really quiet and there were only about ten or twelve other toddlers there so we didn’t have to wait for anything.

We climbed, we rolled, we slid, it was fun, and it reminded me of being a kid again. Except it wore me out a lot quicker than it would have done then. Mind you, every time we went on the big slide, I had to carry two sacks and Stanley up the stairs. He was more than happy to race me back down to the bottom, before going again.

I think though, (and I am not suggesting you all go immediately to your nearest soft play centre), that play is important. It doesn’t matter how old we are or what we do, but having fun without worry or judgement, whether it is running, climbing or dancing in the kitchen where no-one can see you is important. All too often we get weighed down by our daily lives, the work, the bills, the grind. It’s all vital, we clearly need our jobs to pay our way through life, but it shouldn’t be the only thing in our lives. We should make time to do things that are fun, that make us laugh and that make us feel good. Otherwise, what is the point?

So am I the only adult that likes soft play?

Thanks for reading!


I Could and I Did... The Vitality Big Half

The Vitality Big Half 3a My Not So Secret Diary blog running sobriety
Coming up to the finish line.

The Vitality Big Half 5a
My son Barn flying again.

The Vitality Big Half 4a
My daughter Katie running the Little Half.

On Sunday I ran the biggest race I have ever run. Not the longest, I’ve run a few half marathons now, but definitely the biggest. But most of you know that, because you were so supportive of me before, on Saturday when I was worrying about how it would go. I thought I’d tell you a bit about it.

Most of the races I’ve done are small, local events, the biggest was probably Plymouth Half Marathon where there were about five thousand runners. On Sunday there were over twenty thousand. I’ve never run something with so many before, and I’ve never had to start in a wave before either. That was strange, but weirdly reassuring, knowing most of the people around me were a similar speed to me, based on the predicted times we’d put down.

So, as you may know we live in Cornwall. I’d decided to book this race last year, after the disappointment of not getting through the ballots of two other big ones in London. It seemed like a good idea considering you could just book the ticket, and I thought we’d maybe make a weekend of it and take the kids. Time however, got slightly away from me and that didn’t happen. By the time I looked, most of the obvious choices were either fully booked or had no parking. There seemed little point in not being able to park, and if we were too far away I thought we’d be getting up so early we wouldn’t have time for breakfast or anything else. So, we decided in our wisdom to do the trip in one day. We looked and looked for the best underground option too, because many of the stations we’d used on previous trips were shut due to maintenance. It made the planning harder, but we thought we’d worked it out...

On Sunday morning we got up at 2am, my eldest son had gone clubbing so decided not to come with us as he stayed with friends, just leaving the three younger kiddies. Trying to keep the littlest man asleep we got into the car, aiming to be at Ruislip for just after 6am. When we got there, we realised I’d misread the stations and Ruislip was shut, we were supposed to be at West Ruislip instead. We’d already parked the car, and so a very kind bus driver let us on and dropped us off at the right station. It was an extra thing I didn’t need. I’d managed to make it through the journey without worrying too much. I’d only had two or three head between my knees and try to breathe moments, so was doing pretty well. Anxiety gets me at the strangest times. It was a huge relief when I saw other runners carrying their marked kit bags for the race. I knew I wasn’t the last runner to arrive which helped me to relax, as did the enjoyment our two year old had at seeing and riding on the trains. He was so excited bless him, we’ve only brought him to London once, and he was so small then he wouldn’t have remembered it.

Forty minutes after we got on that train we jumped off to change over, and obviously having traveled a long way, needed the toilet. Many of the stations have closed the facilities they did have, which is fine if you’re local, but isn’t so good when you’ve come so far! An attendant pointed us out in the direction of the public toilets, and when we got there we realised we needed change to pay. That was brilliant, I’d left my purse at home, and my husband only had cards with him. We had no choice but to turn back, but the idea of being stuck on a train again, with no idea where the nearest toilets would be worried me. Luckily a very kind man in a cafe let us use their toilets, even though they weren’t open yet. It was lucky for me, because by the time I got to the start of the race, although there were many portaloos, there were queues of ten to twenty people for each one. I had no chance of getting in there! Going back to catch our next train, poor Katie tripped and fell, banging her hip, shoulder and shin on the metal edged steps in the underground, which really hurt, but also embarrassed her, we were so lucky it wasn’t worse or it could have really spoiled the day for her. That’s what you get for rushing!

We literally got to Tower Hill one minute before my wave loading closed. I panicked, thinking they wouldn’t let me in, and dropped all my extra stuff on Lee and the kids, before running to the start following the arrows. I had no idea where I was going, but marshals directed me according to my colour and number of my wave. And then I was there. Standing. It was so weird. There were hundreds of us, just waiting. In the distance I could see Tower Bridge, and a massive screen showing the elite runners who had started much earlier just flying along, making it look so effortless. I took a photo and posted it for you all to see, wanting you to know how much your encouragement meant to me. In the distance we could hear counting down and we began to move forward. Another wave started and we moved forward again. Soon enough we were there at the start, well the front of my wave was, I couldn’t see it! And then, we were off.

Mostly the half marathons I’ve done are hilly being as I live in Cornwall which means I can have the excuse to run and walk the steep bits if I need to. It helps break it up, and in my head feels like a break, even if I don’t stop. Not so in London. It was so flat! I had no choice but to run all but a couple of steps at the water stations. It was great to show me that I really could do it, as I am so used to slowing down, I questioned whether I could run the full distance. Boy did I ache afterwards though!

As we ran we moved through the different districts of London and it was so amazing to see the different things they had put on for us. There were samba bands, brass bands, choirs, all kinds, and it was brilliant. We ran through the longest tunnel, which upset my Garmin and told me that I was half a mile ahead of where I thought I was. I overtook the Eiffel Tower and a Rhino, and a bunch of grapes, among other people running, and it was fantastic.

The hardest thing was not knowing where my family would be. I signed Barn and Katie up to the Little Half, which started around my mile 11 and finished where I did. I hoped I’d be finished to see them run, but didn’t know for sure, so I knew Lee would take them to the start. The organisers had also suggested where good places to watch the race would be, so I knew in all likelihood I wouldn’t see them before mile 7 or 8. I kept watching though, and looking out. Running across Tower Bridge was amazing. Something so iconic that I have walked across many times, and yet I got to run over, straight down the middle, with people watching and cheering. It was fabulous. I felt very emotional, but I didn’t cry. (Not like my first half, where I did cry quite a lot!)

Mile 9 came and went, and then 10, and I thought I’d probably missed my family, that they were probably getting ready for the start of their race. But then sometime around mile 11, I saw them all sitting on the pavement and watching out for me. It was so good to see them, such a boost, and perked me up for the finish. That last mile and a bit was the hardest. It seemed to go on forever, and after the incredible Tower Bridge nothing much was going to match up. But I kept going as best I could. Running on cobbles earlier had hurt my ankle a bit, and the wind was strong to run into. I was getting tired, but I had to finish, and in my head, the fact there wasn’t a hill meant I couldn’t walk. So I pushed on, and got to the finish line. It wasn’t my fastest, but I am proud of it.

It took nearly an hour for me to get out of the finish area. I heard a lot of people talking and I’m not sure what happened, as apparently the organisation was better in the previous year. I had no choice but to wait with everyone else, but it was cold, I couldn’t get to my hoody, but then, neither could anyone else. Eventually I got through, and with my medal and finishers t-shirt made my way back to the finish to see the kids, but I’d missed them running and they had already finished. Poor Lee was struggling along with all the bags and a sleepy baby, so we decided to walk (I hobbled) back the two miles to meet him.

It was a fab experience for the kids too, they’ve never run anything so big either, and considering it was free for under 18’s and they too got a finishers medal and t-shirt, I think it was brilliant. Katie was so proud, she ran the whole thing and really enjoyed it. I was especially proud of her because she had hurt herself earlier but still carried on. Barn flew, (again) coming in 4th place in the whole race, of almost 1300 runners. If he’d started at the front, he may have gained a few places, but he doesn’t often like to. The best bit was that they enjoyed it. It was a shame I didn’t get to see them run, but Lee managed to get a video as they passed him.

It was a great day. A long day though and by the end of it my feet really hurt! I hadn’t thought about the walk to and from the start really, and then going back to meet Lee was further again. Although I heard later that the station nearest the finish was packed so it would probably have taken longer to get home had we done that. Although I worried about getting there, about even managing the car journey there, I did it and then I ran it. And it wasn’t a bad time either. I’m pretty proud of myself.

So thank you to all of you lovely people who read what I write and for all your support. It means so much to me.



Tower Bridge, London

Tower Bridge 2 running the vitality big half selfie on the bridge running for anxiety and addiction recovery blog My Not So Secret DiaryTower Bridge 1 running the vitality big half selfie on the bridge running for anxiety and addiction recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary
A couple of photos from today... When you try to take a selfie on Tower Bridge, but you just can’t slow down!! At least I got some of me in it! 😂😂

Thanks for all the lovely messages this morning. It was really lovely to have so much support!

Claire x

The Vitality Big Half

The Vitality Big Half start line photo waiting to begin running for mental health and anxiety, recovery from addiction blog running mum in London My Not So Secret Diary

Tower Bridge in view at the start line. And what a lovely morning it is too. Not bad for such an early start. Now just to run this thing! 🏃🏼‍♀️💖🏃🏼‍♀️