There’s one month until the Great North Run and things are coming together. Not necessarily the most useful things, but still.. I have a fan club, I have a cool running ID (18881), and I no longer collapse when I run more than a few metres… There is, however, one small thing that is starting to loom a bit large… In other words, it’s time to talk costumes…
To run the Great North Run in the world’s most awesome black dog suit. It will be visible and recognisable from afar, look similar to my avatar, and when I run past, people will point and say things like, ‘wow‘ and ‘who is that masked dog?‘. Oh, and they’ll also empty their pockets for Mind and stigma will crumble in my wake!
1) Lack of money
There are some amazing mascot costumes available online. Some companies even offer complete bespoke mascot creation services. But I can’t afford them. I can’t even afford a new pair of running shoes. So this dog is going to have to be custom made.
2) Lack of skill
Did I say ‘custom made’? Hmm… At school, I could have a fair stab at just about anything. Except Textiles. Where I’d usually end up stabbing myself. I can’t operate a sewing machine and I’m useless at anything fiddly. So I’m going to have to be clever, take short-cuts, and rely on lots of glue. It’s not sounding good is it?
3) Lack of time
Did I mention that I really shouldn’t be doing this? I’m a PhD student, at the ‘end’ of my PhD. I’m supposed to be spending all my time writing. And by writing I mean the serious kind, not blogging about costume design. Ooops. So anyway, where was I… Oh yes, no time. Needless to say, I think we’ll have to go more down the route of big and bold* than intricate. (*’big and bold’, by the way, is my new euphemism for ‘simple and easy’)
4) Poor fitness
Erm… Yes… So here’s another problem. I’ve never run a half-marathon before. Or even a 5K. And my training hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. So the costume can’t be too challenging to wear, otherwise I might collapse into a heap.
Speaking of collapsing in a heap, I haven’t mentioned the biggest problem of all. I’m a hottie. Alas, not in that way… In the embarrassing and socially awkward way. Thanks to my anxiety, I generally always feel hot, verging on feverish. You can toast marshmallows in my glow. Anyway, my meds (Venlafaxine) make it even worse. And I mean… Ouch… I sweat walking, I sweat watching TV, I sweat after a cold shower. And when I say sweat, I mean I POUR. After one walk, someone recently asked if I’d fallen in the river. It’s horrible. It’s also a rather serious obstacle if you’re planning to run a half-marathon dressed in a (potentially furry) dog-suit. So the design sadly cannot be too hot. And, please dear God, make it a cold day!
Although it may be starting to sound a bit desperate, I have a secret weapon. Blind optimism. Oh, and a God-given-gift for bullshit (AKA ‘spin’). So just in case things go wrong, I’ve come up with a few emergency ‘symbolisms’
1) I have no costume
Actually, no, this won’t do at all. I don’t care how awful it looks, but I WILL run in costume. Even if it’s just a black tracksuit with a tail and some ears. Which I’d rather it wasn’t, because that sounds rubbish. I’ve also ruled out face paint, I don’t want to look like I’m going to one of Prince Harry’s parties.
2) The costume is shite
Ideally, I want a costume that people like. One that might even attract a few pictures in the newspaper. But the chances of an embarrassing mess should not be discounted. Any such shiteness will, of course, be exaggerated by the magnificence of some of the other – more professional costumes – that are likely to be on show. But it’s OK… Because it can symbolise one of the biggest problems in the word of mental health at the moment. The lack of parity of esteem. That mental health problems receive far less funding and attention than physical diseases. In that sense, I think it’d be wrong for me to look anything OTHER than cheap and tatty?! Which is just as well really…
There’s a good chance the final costume isn’t so impressive… (Image posted by an unknown artist on Queeky and is called ‘Yet another rubbish dog‘)
3) The costume is too heavy or hot and I can’t run
I really want to run the full distance. And I want to do it in under two hours. But that’s a very optimistic goal. Especially if it’s even remotely hot. More likely, I’ll pull up after a few miles and have to walk myself home, with my tail literally between my legs. If this happens, I’ll no doubt berate myself as a failure. In other words, I’d do exactly what I do when I get dragged down by depression. It’s a very tough illness that can turn even the simplest tasks into an insurmountable challenge. So if my black dog weighs me down too much to run, that’s actually a very accurate metaphor for the reality of living with the condition.
4) The costume falls apart
Except for the charges of public indecency, this one is easy! I can say that ‘the shedding of my black dog costume is symbolic of my recovery, and the freedom I am gaining from my own black dog’. blah blah blah
5) I collapse and die
Erm… I rather hope this doesn’t happen. But if it does, then – well – I suppose it symbolises that depression is a very serious condition that tragically results in a substantial loss of life. Some people can completely recover from depression, others can learn to live with it. But both of those are a lot less likely while stigma keeps people from seeking the help they need, and while mental health care is so appallingly underfunded.
Time to Change
So there we are, it’s time for me to start making my costume. If anyone has any ideas, expertise, or knows where I might be able to get hold of cheap, or free, materials, then do please get in contact, I would be grateful for any help whatsoever!
Regardless, take care and stay safe!