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!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

One mile at a time

Another very gray, cold, rainy day around here. Running is tough in this kind of junk. Actually, I'm finding accomplishing anything to be a chore. What I wouldn't do to see a ray of sunshine right now! But alas, only gray and rain outside my door.

I had to run a 10 mile speed workout today, part of which included 4 by 1 mile at 7:40 per mile. My energy has been particularly low--gray, just like the weather. In fact, I got dressed to go running this morning and then went back to bed, in my running clothes, for another two hours! I finally forced myself out of bed and out the door.

Soaked and cold, I dropped Puck at home after my two mile warm-up. He's too old for speed workouts now. It was everything I could do just to go back out the door. Not only was the weather crummy, it was one of those days where my running reflected my mood. Rather than smooth and flowing, I felt like I was fighting myself with every step. I was barely a half mile into my first repeat when I contemplated giving up.

I didn't give up. My mind went to work instead. I thought, "I can do anything for one mile," and I pushed on. Sucking wind, and still battling to find my form, I gratefully finished mile one. I thought about quitting then, but I figured I could probably struggle through one more. I made a deal with myself to only run two repeats instead of four.

The second repeat wasn't much prettier than the first. My legs felt like they belonged to someone else, icy rain pelted my face, and my lungs refused to let any more air in. It was ugly. Yet, halfway through the mile, my brain was wheeling and dealing again. I walked through part of the recovery interval and decided one more fast mile couldn't be much worse. So I ran my third repeat directly toward home.

This brain of mine, it doesn't give up too easily. Despite finishing my third mile within spitting distance of my house, I decided to walk/run my recovery interval in the exact opposite direction. And since I was then far away from home, why not run interval number four? Tricky brain!

Interval number four commenced. At that point something intriguing occurred. I began to flow. Whereas running 7:40 on miles 1-3 felt like solo boxing, running 7:24 for interval 4 felt like ballet. Finally, after almost an hour of running my body gave in. I don't know why it happened or how it happened, but happen it did. And I was extremely grateful. Interval number four saved my run.

I was thinking a lot while I was out there battling today. Taking one mile at a time, biting off small chunks of what otherwise would have been an overwhelming whole, parallels my life with depression. It is how I survive. On bad days, gray days, I cannot think beyond today. I cannot think about any part of tomorrow. I must only think about my next moments. I must only focus on one project, chore, or errand at a time. If I don't, I become overwhelmed and nonfunctional really quick. Taking one moment at a time allows me to live with a modicum of grace even when days, or moods, are gray.

I wonder...did I learn that from running? Or is it the other way around?

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