Inside My Mind

Run for My Life

Warning: Might be Triggering and is quite a long read.

runn


If you’ve read my About Me page, you would know how and when I started running. However, something not a lot of people know about is one of the underlying reasons as to why I stuck with running. This post has actually been in my drafts folder for over a month as I sat around mulling over it.  I haven’t share this with 90% of the people I know but after a lot of pondering, I think I feel ready to share.

Over the 21 years I’ve been alive, I’ve been diagnosed with a handful of things. Luckily, I was not diagnosed as crazy but you might as well have when you added everything up. However, that’s a whole different can of worms and today I want to share this instead: back in 2010, I was diagnosed with depression.

The Canadian Mental Health Association defines depression as…

Depression is a mental illness that affects a person’s mood—the way a person feels. Mood impacts the way people think about themselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around them. This is more than a ‘bad day’ or ‘feeling blue.’ Without supports like treatment, depression can last for a long time.
Signs of depression include feeling sad, worthless, hopeless, guilty, or anxious a lot of the time. Some feel irritable or angry. People lose interest in things they used to enjoy and may withdraw from others. Depression can make it hard to focus on tasks and remember information. It can be hard to concentrate, learn new things, or make decisions. Depression can change the way people eat and sleep, and many people experience physical health problems.
Age and sex can also impact how people experience depression. Males often experience anger or irritability rather than sadness, which can make depression harder for others to see. Young people and older adults may experience lasting changes in mood that are mistakenly dismissed as a normal part of growing up or of aging.

I felt that I had been struggling with depression for a while but was not diagnosed until after my mother’s death when it got worse. I felt like it was a huge step for me, seeking help, but there were people around me that belittled my depression and there was still a stigma attached to it in my family. After seeking help, I was placed on anti-depressants. At first, seemed to work, I was able to get myself out of bed in the mornings, I stopped waking up every day at 3am, I started going back to my classes, I started seeing my friends again, and I was feeling a bit happier. Unfortunately, my family doctor wasn’t doing that great of a job monitoring me (I was very good at hiding that I was unhappy for a long time from him so he didn’t think much of it…we have a complex relationship) and the side effects of the medication was getting to me. I started feeling worse and worse, until one day, I did something I shouldn’t have done, I let the side effects get to me, I’m slightly embarrassed about my actions but at the same time, I feel like I shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed.

So what does all this have to do with running? Well after spending the night at the hospital and practically failing my exam the next day (year 1 psych. midterm #1, 52%, I ended up dropping to course), I made the decision to stop taking the medication. I stopped speaking to my family doctor about it and he’s never brought it up. I also stopped seeing the school psychiatrist but that was a combination of a bunch of factors. So now on my own, I had to figure out my next steps. Will I fall back into old ways without my medication? Yes, I was scared of what the future held for me but at the same time, I didn’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life after what happened.

I ended up having a chat with an old friend about how I was feeling unhappy without giving him too much detail of what was going on. He was very understanding and invited me out on a run (because that’s what runners do). We used to run together weekly when I was younger so I thought why not? I was determined to move on with my life and do something, anything, to get back on track – plus I had put on the freshmen 15 and I felt that running would be a good way for me to get rid of it. So I started making time for running. I switch to part-time status for my semester to work and to take care of myself and my mental well being. I ran almost everyday and I was starting to feel better. The adrenaline I got at the end of every run was addicting and it made me feel alive. I was happy. Running made me happy again.

Over the years, I do occasionally slip up because I am human and it happens. However, I found that running has been instrumental in keeping my mind in the place I want it to be. I usually take breaks in the winter season and I found that that is when my slip ups happen the most so last winter, I ran right through it, and guess what, a decrease in slip ups!

So there we have it. It’s all off my chest now. Welcome to my crazy life 🙂

(Disclaimer, just because the medication didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.  I’m not a doctor and this is just my personal story)

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Email: carmy@carmyy.com
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42 thoughts on “Run for My Life

  1. Love this. I just a conversation very similar with a friend this weekend where we were talking about running as a way to be better at living. I run because life is hard. I run because life is less hard when I have a place to find beautiful things which is what I find in running.

    Thanks for being so brave.

    • I’m glad running works for your anxiety! sometimes running GIVES me anxiety haha “is my garmin charged?! do I have enough body glide? did I forget anything?!” haha but it’s usually better once I’m out the door 😉

  2. Hi Carmy, it’s Jeffrey from the North Face Endurance Challenge Twittering.

    I just wanted to say, I am so happy for you. We’re strangers, but I’ve also been very depressed at one point in my life. It’s a dark place.

    Stay strong.

    Jeffrey

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this! As others have said, depression can be very dangerous, and as you have found it can be very easy to hide from your doctor and others. That in itself can be dangerous, so be mindful to remain open to an objective voice who can help you with reality checks.

    I also think we as a society are too quick to medicate – and most of these things DO have side-effects and should never be done without simultaneous therapy to try to work on root cause and coping mechanisms.

    I am so glad that running has provided an uplifting outlet – it has been a major part of my life for so many years now. Thanks again for sharing your story!

    • Thanks for reading! It’s true, society is quite quick to medicate for that quick fix – all the doctors did for me is put a bandaid on top of the issue. I’m glad I can find peace with running and I hope other people do too!

  4. It was so brave of you to share this, and I’m glad you were able to! I hope that it felt good to share your story.
    Running truly is a form of therapy. I am a mental health therapist and I work with kids…but I wish I could make them all just become runners! Its sad because in the area I work we don’t have the programs to allow kids to be involved in running.
    It’s true that medication does not help everyone, but the best treatment usually involves therapy and medication, and working closely with the prescriber so they can monitor and make changes.
    There are alot of other coping skills that can help when you start to feel that way. It may be worth considering therapy so that you can build up those skills for when you need them. But most importantly reach out to others for help! It’s not something you should need to deal with on your own.

    • It DID feel good to share! I’ve been hiding it from people around me from so long that I feel a couple pounds lighter 😉 I wish your kids had running programs! Running has really helped pulled me out of the dark place I was in. Unfortunately, the help I received wasn’t up to par and I can only hope that other people getting help will be getting better help (like yourself! Those kids are lucky to have you!)

  5. Depression is one nasty piece of work. I’ve been dealing with it for nearly 10 years now. I’ve been on and off medicine and am finally stabled out with a great combination of medication and exercise.

    I’m glad that you found something that works for you and that you were wise enough to know not to give up.

  6. Thanks for sharing your story. I get really down in the winter, too. I will have to try jogging in place to music then. You are right about running and the mind. Great article. Extremely well written!

  7. I was diagnosed with lupus a couple of years ago and that’s when my depression began. My husband is a workout fanatic and helped motivate me to use exercise as an outlet. It really helped me, I try to run when I can or use the elliptical. Since I started eating better and getting the exercise I need I’m no longer on any medication.

  8. Wow you probably might be annoyed to hear this (and I don’t want to steal your thunder) but I did pretty much the same thing. Going through a lot of very difficult things at home made me realise that I had been depressed for a very long time. Then I started up running and it just changed everything. Unfortunately during my bad few years I’ve messed my body up and I can’t run anymore – my hip joints are basically messed up. I do occasional short runs anyway but i’m pretty gutted I can’t do it anymore. Thinking of maybe trying swimming now instead. Anyway just wanted to congratulate you for being very honest with a difficult subject. Hope you are well.

    • you are NOT stealing my thunder 🙂 thanks for sharing, it let’s everyone know that no one is ever alone in this despite it feeling like it. Is it possible to do pool running or a running clinic to fix up your joints? ):

      • Nah its so annoying the doctor said its so minor that it can’t be fixed. He said most people don’t feel it but I was limping in some serious pain for months and I still get it now. He said just to wait to see if it goes away. Kind of annoying. Thinking about cleaning up my diet and get some good stuff in for my joints.

  9. Hi Carey 🙂 I’m Brian Sharp (a.k.a., SaltLife Runner) on Instagram. I wanted to let you know that I just read your Blog and I’m very impressed with you in telling your story. I know that it takes a lot doing so, and I commend you for that. I have also been dealing with depression, as well as other medical problems, but just like you I have a deep love for Running. It has opened up a whole new world for me. Anyway, I wanted you to know that you’re not alone, and that I think very you’re awesome!!! You take care of yourself and I hope to talk to you more.

    BSharp

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