Running with the big "D" - mental health and running...
This is a true and honest account of a mental health battle from one of my running group members who participated in my 0-5k programme:
“Running with The Big D.....”
I suffer with depression. There I've said it!
Only looking back on my life at the ripe old age of 44 can I tell that this has affected me for most of my life. There were days early on, that I felt like giving up on life many, many times. A dark, heavy blanket would fall over me and I'd just want to curl up and not see or speak to anyone for days on end. Fortunately jobs and life in general doesn't allow you to do this and I don't think many people would have suspected.
When I had my first baby it was horrendous. I felt completely alone with no one to help out, but I still didn't realise that I was suffering with depression - that was only for weak people, right??
Two years later, after I'd built up an amazing group of "mummy" friends and my second child was born, I was having a chat to another mum who suggested I visit the GP for a chat as I felt like I was having problems bonding with my eldest child. I plucked up the courage and visited and promptly dissolved into tears when she asked me a few questions. Anti-depressants where eventually prescribed and so started the long road to recovery. It would take a further two years before I would admit to any of my close friends that I was taking them - I felt like a failure.
Around the same time another of my amazing mummy friends - Nicola Tilley was just starting out on her incredible journey of setting up MumsFit.
It's safe to say I was never, ever sporty or interested in any kind of fitness at all. "I can't run / I don't do running" was my instant reaction whenever it was mentioned, but after continued encouragement from Nicky (and gentle teasing from my husband "some people just aren't built for running!") I thought "sod it", I'll give it a go and try to prove to myself that I CAN! So I joined Nicky's next run to 5k group.
After 8 weeks of stepped up running I was so emotional when I finally ran 5k non-stop. I felt AMAZING!! The feeling lasted too. My depression had pretty much gone, something I noticed all too well when for various reasons I stopped running for a month or so and felt it creeping back slightly.
I will never be an amazing runner, I'm very slow and still only just getting back to the 5k point after my recent break but I'm really not looking to be running half marathons or anything like that in the future. I run for me - because it makes me feel able to cope with everything else that goes on in life. It's a wonderful feeling to run and chat with other mum's and I feel great for the rest of the day / week. I now feel I'm at the point where I could start to wean myself off of the antidepressants (with GP guidance!) but that's a new challenge to face..... I may need new trainers for that one 😉
Thank you Nicky, you have been such a huge help and inspiration to me and I'm sure many others.”