Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 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!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Running makes a girl tough

Slogging through a lonely, cold 13-miler this morning I reflected upon why I was continuing to do something which, at that moment, felt so difficult. It was earlier than I needed to be up. I was tired. I was winded. I was alone and cold. My legs felt heavy. There were patches of dangerously slippery ice underfoot, and I still had over an hour to go. It was not a pleasant place to be with such thoughts and feelings.

It would have been so easy to say, "Screw it!" It would have been much easier to stop than to continue slogging on. I could have given in to the crummy feelings and negative thoughts. Instead, I had another thought, "Running makes me tough!"

Immediately, and to my amusement, a mini Gatorade commercial began playing in my head. (Cue the inspirational music: Here comes a slow-motion etta, resplendant in the morning mist. The sun peeks over the horizon, and her steamy breath flows as she gracefully, but not without grit, ascends a hill...) You know the commercial... So,I didn't quit. My mind whirred, and I slogged on.

Maybe I needed that tongue-in-cheek thinking to jolt me out of my negativity. My whirring brain settled on that thought, "Running makes a girl tough." It was true. Running had made me tougher. I was obviously tougher physically, but thinking about the mental toughness kept my brain's attention. Running requires mental toughness.

Similarly, surviving depression is all about mental toughness. Perhaps without these long, lonely, cold runs I wouldn't have been able to negotiate the long, lonely, cold nights of depression. Perhaps dipping into the hole of despair during difficult workouts or races helped when I needed a boost out of depression's black hole. Running when I felt slow, heavy and tired may have encouraged me to hoist out of bed on those dark days when I felt the same. It made perfect sense. Running, in some ways, is practice for surviving depression. Thank God I'm a runner.

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