I signed up to RED January 2019... but didn't take part.

CW/TW - mention of eating/dieting, controlled eating, disordered thoughts around food and dieting, mental illness.

I'd like to start off by saying that this post is NOT me trying to portray RED January in a negative light. I think the concept and movement is fantastic and I do highly recommend it. This post simply highlights my reasons for not getting involved with it again due to my own personal reasons...which, in hindsight, was actually the most positive thing I could have done.

Sometimes in my mind I think I'm a superhero. I get all these amazing ideas and feel like I can take on the world. Then something happens which brings me back to reality and leaves me feeling deflated and useless.

Last year, when I was working at iTalk (part of Solent Mind and the NHS), I decided to take part in RED January and raise money for Solent mind.

For those of you who may not have heard of it before, RED January was set up by Hannah Beecham to help encourage people to get active to beat the blues whilst raising money and awareness around mental health and the positive effects exercise has on our mental wellbeing.

"Inspired by the life-changing effect that a physical challenge has had on my mum’s mental health, RED January is here to help you boost your own mental and physical health." - Rachel Beecham (redtogether)

At the start of 2018 my mental health was all over the show and I was trying to do anything and everything to help Solent Mind raise more funds, so i signed up to RED January.

As I previously wrote in my blog post RED vs. BLUE, I managed to complete the whole month but it was a huge relief when it was over. However, a lot has changed since then. I have grown a lot, my mental health is more positive than negative (with the very occasional slip-up) and in general I am more proactive.

So why did I sign up to RED January this year but not take part?

Well, one of the biggest reasons was because I spent the first 3 weeks laid up in the flat unwell. The first week I couldn't talk, then the headaches were awful and I couldn't breathe through my nose, and then I was just exhausted. Light exercise probably would have helped but my body felt bruised, stiff and completely run down. I just couldn't face it.

The other reason for not starting was a huge wave of fear and anxiety. When I took part last year it brought back a lot of negative and intrusive thoughts, thoughts I hadn't truly had for many years. I started to binge and purge, count calories, excessively exercise, and push myself to the point of breaking down and being left in horrid pain.

I couldn't risk putting myself through that again, and as soon as I thought about it I realised that things might end the same way.

So, I have only raised £10 this year (so far) for Solent Mind (and that was from myself), and I have gained weight instead of losing it, but...

1. I haven't fallen back in to bad habits and beaten myself up about it.

2. I aim still raising money for Solent Mind through Smile.Amazon (click the link for more information)

3. I have decided to sign up to Sugar Free February (you can support and donate by clicking the image below or here) to help me maintain a healthier lifestyle without the binging, the purging, the counting calories, and

4. I will be documenting my journey of starting to dance again, something I have been wanting to do for years, and aim to turn it in to a documentary after I have completed my course.

So, I may not have taken part in RED January, but I have learnt so much from this experience and actually helped myself mentally without having to be part of it. I have been following everyone else's journey's and am super proud of you all, you're all wonderful!

Here's to taking on new challenges which still provide awareness and vital funds, but also keep myself from damaging my own health.

I will leave you with this though, RED January really is wonderful and as I said in this post and RED vs. BLUE, it does have it perks you just need to find what works for you. Despite it's original message of Run Every Day January, this isn't what they promote. It's about being active each day in any way you can and doing as much or as little as you can. I hope that next year I am in a better place to separate myself from my negative feelings and once again join in with RED January.

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