Running, during a serious bout of depression, is not easy. In fact, it can be very difficult.
We all know that running, as with any exercise, is good for our mental health as well as our physical well-being. The benefits of engaging in physical activity can be enormous! The issue, however, with people suffering with depression is getting out of bed and leaving the house in the first place.
I’ve suffered with depression, on and off, since my mid-to-late teenage years, although I wasn’t aware of this until much later on. Why? Probably because it was largely covered-up by the use of all manner of illegal drugs and, the worst of all of the mind-altering substances – alcohol.
In a sense I’m lucky, in that I’m not chronically depressed, and I do experience periods of high mood when I’m not experiencing the awful lows of depressive phases (this is known as a cyclothymic mood disorder), although these stages of high mood can also have their pitfalls.
So, what’s the answer to taking that first step out of the front door? How do we motivate ourselves to take that initial step?
Not with illicit, recreational drugs, and certainly not by using alcohol, which will only exacerbate the complications of a depressed mood. I believe that prescription medicines can have a positive effect – I used the mood stabiliser, Lamotrigine, for over two years, and since ceasing to take that I am on Sertraline, an anti-depressant that seems to be the current, “in” medication for treating depression, and I seem to be in a good pace with my mental health at present. Starting to run again, though, has definitely has the most positive influence on this!
After a series of injuries, illness, lack of motivation and falling off the wagon, I am now running again and feeling so much better than I have done for the past few months. I haven’t used alcohol for a while , and I intend to remain abstinent now.
I’ll achieve this by setting myself some goals and activities for now and throughout 2018. First of all, I’ll buy some new running kit. I always find that this helps me with motivation. It’s like having a night out with friends wearing the new top, new jeans or new shoes that you bought earlier that day. You just feel better!
I will also be joining a group of local runners, despite the fact that I prefer training alone, who I know will keep me focussed and make sure that I am always aware of when they’re meeting.
I will also be trying various fitness classes, for one month each at a time, to supplement my running, including some that are traditionally associated with a predominately female clientele – in the name of researching new interests, of course!
With these measures in place and a renewed, but ongoing commitment to therapy, Parkrun and various races throughout the coming year, I hope there will be enough activity to keep my mood positive and upbeat and, most importantly, continue to keep me alcohol-free!
See you at some running events in 2018…