This isn’t Christmas related in any way.
Instead it is something that has been annoying me for a little while now.
As some of you may or may not know I am a runner. Not mega fast but good enough for me (there’s that ‘quote’ again….see?). I usually go running in the evenings after work due to the fact that a) I’m not getting up early just to run and b) I can’t get out of my warm bed at that time of day as it physically holds me under the duvet. Also, I find in the evenings that there are fewer people about to dodge past and there is also less traffic on the roads which then means I have to stop less when trying to cross the road. At this time of year here on the small island it is winter which means the evenings get darker earlier. Now, this in itself is not a problem but when you’re a runner it means you have to be safe. When I go out for a run in the evening I am lit up like a Christmas tree (just a reference to Christmas, not the tone of the blog…..honest) and can probably be seen from space if you look hard enough. I have lights on the heels of my trainers, brightly coloured knee-length funky socks, a fluorescent yellow jacket, a high vis vest, fluorescent hat and lights on the front and rear of my jacket. I also have reflective strips on my gloves too just in case the rest of it can’t be seen from miles away. I wear this, not to make a fashion statement (although it is pretty striking), but to make sure I don’t get run over. It also helps other people to see me coming along the pavement towards them.
Lately however I have seen a rather worrying trend happening. I seem to be coming across many people running without ANY kind of lighting / high visibility clothing. I even saw (once he was right in front of me) a guy wearing black shorts and black t-shirt while out running!! How does that give anyone a chance to avoid him until it’s too late? I have had various comments shouted to me while out running because of the way I look but I’d rather put up with a few mindless comments than run the risk (no pun intended….this time) of ending up in hospital.
This doesn’t just apply to runners though. I have also seen cyclists without lights darting out of junctions at risk of getting flattened by cars. I have even seen cars driving through town without lights on and then the drivers wondering why other cars are flashing their lights at them.
So why does this bother me? Surely it is none of my business that others are willing to put themselves at risk because of their own ignorance / stupidity (*delete as appropriate*) but it is something I genuinely get annoyed by.
I began to think about this a bit more the other day after it came up in conversation at the anxiety cafe I go to once a month and it got me thinking of a rather dodgy link to mental health in a round-a-bout kind of way. Like one of those tenuous links on the news or between programmes on daytime t.v. it kind of made sense to me. If we don’t light ourselves up and speak about our mental health how can we expect anyone to see us and begin to understand the importance of mental health? If we (metaphorically) cover ourselves up in dark clothing we will go unnoticed and get (again metaphorically) flattened.
Now, I’m not saying we should go out all guns blazing like the annoying neighbour who lights up their house with so many Christmas lights (no more Christmas references……I promise) that the glow can be seen from all around but that we should make ourselves visible to others. This is not an easy thing to do as it involves breaking out of your comfort zone and opening yourself up but if you can just speak to one person, be it a family member, close friend or work colleague it will help to be seen. I am more visible now than I probably was this time last year and I intend to keep that going when the decorations come down (sorry, last one) and the evenings get lighter. Therefore I’m pretty sure you can expect to hear more from me in future.
May I just use this last paragraph to say a big thank you to everyone who has read, commented, liked my blogs and ramblings over the last year. It means a lot to me that what I say resonates with so many other people and my only hope is that if what I say helps just one person then my work is done. Blogging has been incredibly therapeutic for me as it has helped me make sense of my head. As I write my thoughts down I find myself answering my own questions and this has helped to ease my anxieties about some of my issues. Hopefully as others read it, it can help you to understand more about how mental health and how it can affect people in so many different ways.
Merry Christmas (yeah, yeah, yeah I know I said it wasn’t Christmas related in any way but seeing as it is that time of year it probably should be mentioned). May I wish you all the best for the season and remind you that it’s o.k. to take time out on the big day if it all gets too much. Sometimes we get so caught up with thinking we should be happy all day that we just need a 30 minute break on our own may be enough to recharge and calm ourselves down again.
Lots of love, hugs, hot cups of tea to all of you.
Thank you xx