Earlier this year, as you know, I took an unexpected turn in a new direction. It most certainly wasn’t something I chose, but then not much in life happens because we choose or make it.
Between the masses built up due to my cerebral vasculitis, my university burdens, the loss of my mental faculties, coordination, ability to maintain my physique and health, I slowly withdrew further into myself. I felt my isolation become much stronger and much more prominent in my weekly life. I just wanted to be a typical girl living out her life, and taking advantage of all the benefits of being single and able to socialise in the middle of my twentieth decade. Instead I was seeing my friends and acquaintances move in to various stages of ill health, emotional breakdowns and general life struggles.
I wasn’t the friend I should have been to them. I hid behind my own illness, not without good cause given the limited amount of energy I had to make it through each day. Nevertheless this fact doesn’t ease my regret.
Yes, good things happened to some of my friends in careers, marriages, births, travel and health, but to only focus on these is to be selfish and shallow. As my health and cognition has returned to me I have felt a solidification of my genuine character and I am ashamed.
Apologies mean and do little and yet I cannot go back in time and so what can I do? I have never hidden my own struggles with my mental health and emotional well-being as I believe that culture is the reason this is such a big issue at present.
If you hide these thoughts and feelings, they do not go away.
I have been taking regular stimulating actions for the last two years to balance my mental well-being and yet I knew how hard a struggle many others have. I can promise I am working on rebuilding my relationships and re-establishing connections.
In the mean time I connected with some of my closest friends and we created a fundraising group for the 2014 Neon Run. The Neon Run this year was held on Saturday 8th November at the Claremont Showgrounds. This fantastic event was established by Beyond Blue, which is an Australian mental health and depression organisation from which all the more focused organisations stem from. It is a 5 kilometre fun run event which could be completed running, jogging or walking (or rolling, but not on bikes). The event was all ages, with a large section fenced off in the centre of the oval where the bar was set up (let’s be honest, mainly adults were attending this!).
The gates opened at 5pm, we arrived in our fluorescent/ neon outfits, dressed in sneakers and painted in bright zinc stripes and spots. The registration pack provided us with neon combat headbands, a commemorative sports shirt and flashing athletics band, so we donned these two. Our group posed in one of the designated “Selfie Zones”, which had black lights shining down from overhead to enhance the neon effect of the outfits, and we went crazy posing, as you do. Many novelty flashing accessories were available for purchase (we went crazy!), the line for neon body painting was enormous (super pleased we had our own kit!) and the activities to occupy the masses until the first runners left were pretty great (trike races, silent dance zones and a live DJ on the stage).
Finally after dinner, when the sun had set and the crowds had successfully hyped themselves up the coordinators started to let the race begin. The running waves left after 7:30pm, the joggers after 8pm and the walking waves began at 8:30pm, of which we were one of. The route was a circuitous maze through the showgrounds with all the arcades and natural features lit up by spotlights and fairylights. Alongside the path were projections on the sides of the arcade buildings and various structures, and in the open fields were large LED display screens and mist machines blowing in front of more spotlights. Various genres of music denoted each kilometres leg of the race, the Indie Pop Rock being the overall favourite of our group The Neon Polka Dots. The projections and display images were of silhouetted go-go dancers, psychedelic rhythmically moving art and colour-manipulated scenic imagery. Within some of the larger buildings we walked for a decent 50 metres in strobe lighting that would have put a roller disco to shame.
The most amazing and incredible part of this whole route, and the one I had been looking forward to the most, was the Bubble Tunnel. Yes. A tunnel of bubbles. Completely black lit. I wish I had gone for ever. My toes were pleased it was only short, as the bubbles were cold.
The last 500 metres we ran. I felt energised and elated. We returned to the main stage to fill up on water and lemon soda after completing, which was about 10pm. With the hours of dancing to warm up, the fun run itself, and an extra hour of dancing afterwards we were all very tired little Polka Dots by the end of the night.
I am pleased to announce that one of the girls in the team managed to raise an incredible $600 for Beyond Blue, and the rest of our crew accumulated another $200. This was definitely my favourite method of celebrating a Saturday night.
And just because the main method of promotion for this event was the infamous designated ‘hashtag’ I would invite you all to take some time to view the many pictures better than mine from this wonderful fundraising event.
And please remember there is nothing embarrassing or shameful about feeling like you are not coping, or needing to ask for help. The Neon Run is intended to remove negative stigma and bring positivity into a dark matter. I can say it is hard, but it is harder to go through it alone. Talk to your friends, family, teachers, co-workers, boss, neighbours, doctor or a professional. It IS something you can overcome but you DO need to seek the help to do it.