I ran my first race (a 10k) 3 weeks before I was diagnosed with depression. I was numb. I ran out of pure spite. I had no idea I was on the road to a breakdown. I thought this was just a finish line.
I never thought running would be the thing that saved me.
I used to watch people running and think “Why are they doing that to themselves?” Who would want to run by choice?
I thought runners were some weird breed of human that loved self torture. Maybe they are, but not in the negative way I thought before.
You see, my perspective changed…
I was diagnosed with depression on June 17, 2011. I had become a shell of my former self. I had been going through the motions, yelling at my daughter for no reason, and slowly retreating into the shadows.
When talking about a treatment plan, my doctor told me it was important that I keep moving. Moving was hard. Moving hurt. Getting out of bed was this insurmountable task. How could I keep moving when all I wanted to do was sleep and not get out of bed?
I kept working with a personal trainer for a while to get my mobility back (depression robs you of so much, even moving), and got out for walks with family and friends.
Eventually I started running again. Running felt good. When I ran, I could easily work through situations and events that were troubling me. Yes, those first few kilometres are killer, but the feeling afterwards, it’s definitely a rush. Runner’s high is real, and it’s a great motivator.
Running is a gauge for my mental health. When I start to lose interest, and when I don’t want to lace up, I know I am possibly beginning a journey down the rabbit hole again. Sometimes I can catch myself before I get too far down that rabbit hole, but there have been times that I am more than halfway down before I try to climb back up. It is those times that lacing back up and getting out is harder.
Starting over again is always hard, I won’t lie. Everything hurts and my brain is usually working against me. But once I get over the initial hurdle, I get that feeling again. The one where I feel free. Like I CAN get through the clouds and fog, and work through what it is that is holding me back.
I am very lucky to be a part of the running community. It is somewhere that I can lay out my soul and they are there to support me and love me through all my ups and downs. They are my cheerleaders when things get rough, and a board to bounce things off of when I am riding high.
When I am in my running groove, I feel like I can make it through anything. On my not so good days, a run can be just what I need to give myself that mental boost.
It’s not always that way, but even my bad runs are there to teach me something, and I try to find the lesson so I can move forward.
That is what running is for me, a way to keep moving forward, when depression keeps wanting to hold me back.
It is running that made me feel comfortable speaking about my mental illness. It was a running injury that started my blogging journey. It was my blogging journey that led me to using other forms of social media to share my story. We are not alone in our battle. We are a collective voice, and we are stronger than we think we are.
Running, it’s my way to feel unsinkable.
It’s not always easy.
It’s one foot in front of the other.
One step at a time.
We are capable of so much.
We just need to be kind to ourselves and remember our resilience.