Running saved my life. And I don’t mean that in a cliché way. I mean it in the purest interpretation of the words.
Almost two years ago, I woke up with the crippling pain of depression coursing through my body. I believed I was unable to live another day. After seeing my two daughters, then 9 and 16 years old, off on their respective school buses, a plan unraveled in my head to end my life. Though I hadn’t previously outlined the methods by which I would attempt to complete my suicide, I moved through the motions methodically as if following a map my brain always knew. I proceeded with the plan, losing consciousness before being discovered and ultimately rescued.
I was resuscitated—but in order to go on, my life had to change. After spending time in intense therapy, I integrated running into my treatment program (along with prescription medication) to manage my severe depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Running helped me remember how to enjoy life in the most simplistic way. Plus, it gave me a natural source of serotonin (the “runner’s high” feel-good chemical people with depression often lack). I learned to enjoy working toward a goal, so I started registering for races.
My favorite race is now the marathon—I’ve run eight of them! For me, it’s the perfect symbol for life. There are times during the marathon when you feel amazing and others when you’re not sure you can take one more step and you have to force yourself to keep going. I’ve found that running, like life, is always worth it.
I learned to run toward life, not away from it. Running is a healthy tool to battle depression. Even when I don’t feel like lacing up my shoes, I make a deal with myself to get out for 5 minutes. Even this little amount of time always makes me feel better.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, get help immediately. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) to speak with a trained counselor 24 hours a day.