Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 16 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Running with Depression or Depression with Running

I can survive a tough, nasty, ugly run--like the one I had yesterday--because I've survived thousands of tough, nasty, ugly days of depression. The run yesterday didn't go well. It was not what I was expecting nor wanting from the last long run before my marathon. The GI distress had me stopped three times with little warning. I was unprepared for that. Figuring the gels I was consuming were the possible culprit, I stopped using them and paid the price. The last 3-4 miles were a full-on slog fest. My legs were heavy from lack of nutrition. My heart rate quickened. I lost my breath. There seemed no reason to move. My brain screamed for relief.

Just STOP! Just STOP! Who cares? It doesn't matter if you stop! Nobody will care if you stop!
Deafened by the cacophony, I kept moving. Run to the next mailbox. Okay. Now, just to that telephone pole, it's okay to stop once you get to that telephone pole. Okay. Just to the end of that building... One monument. One block. One foot at a time. I made it to the end--15.5 miles. I was dirty. I smelled. I hurt. But I was still standing. I persevered. I persevered, because, as a person with depression, I've learned to survive more than I ever thought I could.


I can survive a tough, nasty, ugly day of depression because I've survived thousands of tough, nasty, ugly runs. Depression interferes with my goals. Planned days or events don't go well. They don't turn out as I expected. My brain disturbance stops me without warning. I'm never prepared for that. Regardless of what I think may be the culprit, it always comes back to depression, and I pay the price. The fatigue, irrational thinking, and hopelessness transforms the day into a full-on slog fest. My legs get heavy from lack of purpose. My thoughts jumble and quicken into an irrational mess. I lose my breath. There seems no reason to move. My brain screams for relief.
Just STOP! Just STOP! Who cares? It doesn't matter if you stop! Nobody will care if you stop!
Deafened by the cacophony, I keep moving. Move one foot onto the floor. Okay. Now, just go to the kitchen and feed Puck. It's okay to stop once you feed Puck. Okay. Now, just go to the bathroom, it's okay to return to bed once you go to the bathroom. Okay. Now just eat something, anything. You don't have to do anything else once you eat something. Okay. How about putting on some clothes? Just change into one clean thing... One moment. One step. One foot at a time. I've made it to the end--through the hour, through the day, through the week--one foot at a time. I've been dirty. I've smelled. I've hurt. But I've remained standing. I've persevered. I've persevered, because, as a runner, I've learned to survive more than I ever thought I could.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You worded that as perfectly as I have felt it in my past. I'm not a runner, but the analogy is spot on.

Michelle (The Beartwinsmom) said...

Where's that duct tape when we need it for those stupid voices in our heads? Grrrrrrrrrr

One foot at a time... Amen to that. Just like my doggie paddlin'... it doesn't have to be perfect, even though the damn voices tell us we have to be perfect.

Running Hoosier said...

WOW, I was captivated by your writing. The anology for both was right on target, we as runners and suffers of depression.

I have been plodding on one step at time here now for the past week. I keep on contemplating cllaing the doc to see about my meds, just don't seem to keeping it at bay.

But like you say, just one more step.

mfranks said...

Though I have never struggled with depression.. I know the feeling...one more foot strike, one more mail box, one more block. Keep on pushing, keep on fighting, keep on persisting.
Keep going girl.

Bradley said...

I'm happy to see you using the tools of AA throughout your daily life and taking it one day at a time, one hour at a time and sometimes one minute at a time.

I frequently tell people that when I ran regularly that I never ran 5 miles, I only had to run to the next telephone pole. Before I knew it enough poles had passed by to reach my overall goal. Interesting to see we use the same technique.

I hope the depression lifts soon.

John D said...

Etta - This is so well done and gets right to me. I know well those days when it seems impossible to take that first step, do that one completed action. The reinforcing of experience between depression and running is so effective and helpful a model to have in mind. Great work, both in life and writing.



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