Culture

Marie Overcame Depression And Is A Cover Runner Finalist

After going to fight for our country, Marie suffered with depression and suicidal thoughts from what she experienced. She started running.

One of my earliest childhood dreams was to be a soldier. When I was 18, that dream became a reality when I raised my right hand and took an oath to protect this country. By doing so, I entered into the Army world—a world where, for the first time, I felt that I truly belonged. Two years later, my unit was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was assigned a large belt-fed machine gun that was almost as big as me (I’m 4’11”), and my duties morphed into combat. I survived firefights, IED’s, extreme heat and total exhaustion. By the time my deployment was done more than a year later, I weighed 75 pounds and had to be treated for malnutrition. I felt like a ghost of my former self, and I struggled with severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

I was medically discharged, and the Veteran’s Administration gave me the diagnoses of Gulf War Syndrome, PTSD and unspecified neurological damage. My world caved in, but a little voice inside of me kept urging me to not give up. I decided I could either let myself go and die young, or defy my illnesses and refuse to be another veteran suicide statistic.

I took up long-distance running for several reasons. I’d always been an athletic and active person and wanted a challenge. I also found it to be a great form of therapy. And I ran to prove to myself that I was more than a sad little pile of health problems. I signed up for my first 5K and was inspired to go further. Eventually I ran my first marathon.

Running helps me stay calm, fit and focused. I still use it to help me process things I have witnessed and experienced, and I still suffer from the same numerous health problems. I have found great joy in sharing my running passion and have helped several friends (including my husband!) achieve their running goals.

Read about all eight of our cover runner contest finalists and vote for your favorite before voting closes on Oct. 17!