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!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Parallels

A new, old book is about to be re-released. It is called Running and Being by Dr. George Sheehan. Originally released in 1978, it spent many months on The New York Times Best Seller List. While I never read it, I was only in third grade at the time, I have recently read about it. Runner's World  magazine editor, David Willey, opened the May, 2013, issue with a story about the book's re-release. From that piece, I was particularly appreciative of the following quote:

"Running made me free. It rid me of concern for the opinion of others. Dispensed me from rules and regulations imposed from outside. Running let me start from scratch. It stripped off those layers of programmed activity and thinking. Developed new priorities about eating and sleeping and what to do with leisure time. Running changed my attitude about work and play. About whom I really liked and who really liked me. Running let me see my twenty-four-hour day in a new light and my lifestyle from a different point of view, from the inside instead of out." ---Dr. George Sheehan

Wow. That is a great quote! It's brilliant, accurate, and poignant. The quote struck me, hard, and it struck me because it rings doubly true for me. Without a doubt, running has given me the gifts Dr. Sheehan highlights. But perhaps more remarkable is that these gifts have also been delivered as a result of my dual illnesses, depression and alcoholism.

Now I know I'm repeating a familiar mantra here. In fact, I just wrote about this a few posts ago. I apologize. But the parallels between what I've learned and experienced through running, and what I've learned and experienced as a result of illness have never hit me so clearly. In fact, I'm not sure I ever realized it before.

As I noted in previous posts, I knew the process of recovery, especially from alcohol, had freed me. The tools of my sobriety, tools which were humbling and challenging to learn, and the lessons of a twelve year journey with depression, "Dispensed me from rules and regulations imposed from outside," and "let me start from scratch." For example, who says a seemingly healthy, single adult has to work full-time? The "layers of programmed activity and thinking" were stripped from me, and my "attitude about work and play" was changed.

Likewise, sobriety and especially depression, "Developed new priorities about eating and sleeping and what to do with leisure time." Can you say take a nap? I also now have the freedom of knowing, "whom I really like and who really likes me." Friends and family are important, but those who rob me of precious energy must be, and have been, let go.

As Dr. Sheehan noted, running, and I would add sobriety and depression, "let me see my twenty-four-hour day in a new light and my lifestyle from a different point of view, from the inside instead of out." I no longer take life, or my well-being, for granted. Viewing life from the inside out allows me to set my own priorities, worry little about the energy-draining drama of others, take the next right action, and conduct myself with integrity and grace.

4 comments:

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

You have made an inspiring connection between your life, with depression and sobriety, and that lovely quote. I, too, have found that my obstacles (depression, OCD) have pushed me to new priorities and new ideas about what is important and what is not. I'm still a work in progress, but reading your blog has been truly inspiring for me!

etta said...

Thank you, Tina.
I always look forward to your thoughts. Appreciate you following along. So glad you could relate to this post. Discovering life's priorities is truly a gift. Keep on keeping on!

Brian M said...

It is inspiring to read a story about someone who turns their depression around and gets on with things. We need more inspirational bloggers like you instead of the ones that share their story and how bad their life is because of their condition. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I just wanted to let you know I pledged you for Blog for Mental Health 2013 here!
http://depressionhopelife.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/blog-for-mental-health-2013/
I hope to see you join the pledge too!



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