Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 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, August 11, 2009

a hilly metaphor

I had a thoughtful 6 mile hilly run today. The first six weeks of my marathon training program call for "the hilliest run you can find" every Tuesday. Those of you following along know I hate hills, but I'm dutifully following my program. Today was week three. Somewhere between an up and a down this morning, I had a thought. Running a hilly route is like traveling along the road of depression.

The only difference between depression and running hills are the ups and downs are reversed. That is, running uphill is akin to sinking into depression's morass, whereas running downhill is like climbing out of the depression hole. See what you think.

As I run uphill, or sink into depression, every step feels more difficult than the last. Soon my muscles ache, and fatigue settles in. The negative thinking begins, and I contemplate quitting. It would be easier to quit than to continue struggling along. As the hill continues, I have less and less fun. I worry about surviving to the top, and I can't wait for the hill to end.

On the contrary, arising from depression's hole, or running downhill, is often lots of fun. Every step feels so easy, sometimes I think I'm moving too fast. I catch my breath and let my mind flow free. Quitting never presents as an option. As I continue toward the hill's bottom, I know my ease cannot last. Sometimes I worry about the next hill coming up, but I always hope the freedom never ends.

Up and down today's hills, my physical exertion reminded me of the mental gymnastics associated with depression. Depression, like running hills, is a total body experience of struggle followed by freedom, pessimism succeeded by clarity, and fatigue relieved by energy. Uncanny, isn't it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow - yes, uncanny. Great description - each word so true. Doing hills (both running and in depressive life) helps us enjoy the flats. I believe I'm on a flat right now with my depression journey. And it's great! Unfortunately, I know it won't last!