I started running in May of 2008. It was my first bout of depression, and I was made to take time off work. I did not know what to do with myself. My days stretched out in front of me, and it was scary because I was at home alone. I just did not want to be with myself. I had tried to shake myself out of my fug by doing aerobics, but things were so bad that I could not concentrate. I had dabbled in treadmill running previously but I was seriously unfit in that May.
I needed to do something where I would just be putting one foot in front of the other – that was challenge enough. So back on the treadmill I went. I started with 10 minutes. Then 15, 30, 60.
I did my first fun run in late June. It was a 5km and I walked half of it. Then again in August. I joined a running group, and started losing weight. Weight loss always a goal at the back (actually, honestly, forefront) of my mind.
My first 10km in October 2008 was a bit of a mess, but good to get among the crowds with my mate Kath. My next few 8-10km runs, I got stronger and stronger.
I met my little mate Shells, then we started running together. 10, 12, 15, 19. Then, hell, what about a half marathon? I ran one with Shells and Kath in June 2009, a year after my faltering 5km. We jogged, slowly, the whole way. I fought off the pain of a blister from the 13km mark. I will never forget finishing that half mara. In the last 50 metres, we wordlessly and simultaneously picked up our pace, even though we were going up an incline, we linked arms and we crossed the finishing line cheering. My eyes are welling up just thinking about it.
Surprisingly, after that, the running went to hell in a handbasket. I trained for Trailwalker with Jay, Shells and Michelle. We had great times, but I collected lots of blisters and niggles.
On the day, in April 2010, I got killed by horrible blisters and had to finish at 60km.
The exercise was quite inconsistent after then. I decided that I didn’t care how much I weighed (actually I really, really did) and put on weight. I really began to hate the way I looked, and blamed myself for my lack of willpower. Generally, though, I was pretty happy, so, with my headshrinker’s green light, I stopped the anti-depressants.
I was fine for a few months. I was still really battling with the emotional eating/guilt demons, so I went and got some help from an excellent psychologist. I learned to sit with my emotions without eating them away. Many pennies dropped.
Then, late last year, I went downhill again, it was quite quick. I thought that it would not be as bad the second time, because I knew what was going on, but it was just as bad. I was flattened, hit for six. Back on the drugs.
As I was coming out of it, I did two things. I started running again, this time, consistently. I also decided that I must stop castigating myself for how I look.
Coming out of the depression was difficult, as I was not trying to coat the feelings in a layer of chocolate. My new-found confidence in my ability to handle stress without eating became more and more robust. More and more pennies dropped.
More and more, I eat for nutrition, not for comfort. I look for flavour and goodness, not fat or calorie counts. I enjoy healthy food rather than feeling like I am sacrificing. I see hunger as a good way to enjoy my food, rather than something to be frightened of. And when I do eat rich food, I savour it slowly, and I don’t feel guilty.
Similarly, I exercise for health, strength and clarity, not to burn calories. I have re-discovered riding my bike. I have gotten a personal trainer, not with the goal of losing weight, but in order to do a 60 minute 10km, which is my Everest.
I have lost weight. Hopefully I will continue to until I find my happy weight. It is honestly now not my primary concern.
Running has been there for me during my most difficult times, and did not mind that I turned my back on it for a time. Running likes me, I have learned to like it, as I do not do it to punish myself. It does not seem to exacerbate my niggles at the moment.
In finding running, I found a whole new community on the internet. I started blogging. I met new people. Wonderful people.
Benevolent father figures: Andrew and Tony.
Plus all my other stalkees, both in the running, body image and fashion fields.
Think I might go for a run…….