Not a great one, not even a good one, but I was a loyal runner. Running made me feel good. It made me ‘okay’. On days when I was angry, run down, the worst of my depressive and suicidal moods could be alleviated for hours, even the entire day by a good long slow run. This was my medicine, my escape, my savior…
In July, the August ‘Women’s Running’ magazine will come out about how running saved my life. I truly believe it did, and it has. It saved me from the worst of my Lupus flares (I would get out of the hospital after an overnight/multi day stay for emergency dialysis and meet up with my running group for our weekly long ten miler without even blinking.) It would be slower than usual, but I knew the run would make me feel better. Mind, body and soul. I have NEVER regretted going for a run. So why am I now feeling like I “used” to be a runner?
It has been 15 days since my last run. And that was a pitiful 1.5 miler in my new neighborhood in which the average pace was 14 minutes per mile. Practically walking. Before that my last run was my last race. The Houston Marathon in January. I am ashamed, sad, and remorseful because I know what running does for me. It hurts me to walk by the running clothes I have set out ready to go whenever I go on my next run. I hold back tears when I look up in my office at work and see the three medals I earned at the marathon in January (for doing two runs back to back you win an additional medal for completing the ‘Houston Double’). I feel like a complete loser when I see all of the races and daily runs my friends are completing. Do I have an excuse for this lazy streak? I hate excuses. After all I have overcome to be a marathon runner, what is so momentous to stop me now?!
The medicine that my Psychiatrist and therapist have given me to keep me alive. These two little pills that change the chemistry in my brain, supposedly for the better. You see, I did almost lose it all back in November 2012 when I was trying to use willpower and running alone to battle a very serious mental illness or two. I have spoken and written much about them; OCD, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, and PTSD blahblahblah. People get tired of my harping on that, I know. I have lost friends over these revelations and constant advocacy and my lack of embarrassment in admitting to all that comes with having these illnesses. That doesn’t bother me. If it bothers them and they have to ignore me, fine. It still is and I still am… What bothers me is that now that I am facing these head on, and not pretending they don’t exist and putting myself at the mercy of the mental health industry, I have come to feel even sicker than ever.
Thank goodness, I am lucky enough to have great insurance. And a job that pays well enough that I can visit my health care team as I am supposed to. I feel so much for those that have to go without in order to be well. I am doing as I’m told. A few months ago I began to feel extremely low again so before the suicide urges came back too strong I asked for help, as one should. I was almost hospitalized but my husband and I felt we could have me try some additional medication the Dr. prescribed and keep me out of the hospital. I HAVE to work, that is not even up for discussion and I can’t imagine being away from my kids. Besides, we have our honeymoon and reception coming up. I just had surgery on my foot, so my usual mood boosting run was out for at least 6 weeks. That was 8 weeks ago. Now I battle my medications. I have stayed on my anti-depressant (just upped the dose a little) and my anti-anxiety med that I felt guilty about taking. I now understand that I have to take it regularly for now and I don’t feel so guilty. I have a fear of becoming medicine dependent and taking a controlled medication scares the crap out of me. I won’t even take pain killers after surgery. My therapist has assured me I am the exact antithesis of one who would become an addict, so I trust her and do as I’m instructed. Then a new medication was added. I researched it at length and became alarmed to find it was an anti-psychotic! I am NOT psychotic! I have never lost touch with reality and am only too aware of my circumstances at all times, but apparently they will often give a significantly reduced dose of these meds to the seriously depressed who seem to be medication resistant at times. So I took it. I immediately began to feel better; but then I felt funny after a few days. Shaky, unable to relax, I couldn’t get comfortable or sleep and I was taking way more anti-anxiety medication just to try to relax enough to sit still for even a few minutes. It was HORRIBLE! I wanted to jump out of my skin. BUT I wasn’t depressed, just felt like a total nutcase. I stopped talking them and went back to my Dr. He agreed I was not tolerating them well and gave me a different one. I began to relax and sleep finally. Much better! Until…I stopped wanting to do anything BUT sleep. I could peel myself out of bed on time but it was a struggle to move. My arms and legs were concrete, my brain in a complete fog.
Like I said, not working is NOT an option. The moment I stop working I give in to illness. I won’t do that, besides I LOVE my job and my career. Most days, it is all I have that makes me feel ‘normal’. I am good at what I do. Even with the illnesses I have to work around. It helps me fight. It gives me value. I have to work and I do still believe my job needs me, too. I know I have a unique ability to empathize and work well with my particular market. And I am still intelligent enough to have much to offer. But I have to stay well. So I come to work every day and give 100% of myself. I even won an award for smashing my quota for the last quarter and look to be doing the same again this quarter. These types of ‘atta girls’ from the real world give me hope. They keep me trying. This is what keeps me feeling human. There aren’t any concessions here for people with illnesses and I don’t ask for any. I am treated equally and I will perform as such. But then I go home and literally collapse into my home and drag myself to my bed. Completely out of anything. Nothing to give my family. No energy to even shower. This isn’t right either. I’ve gained 20 pounds in two months. This isn’t ‘me’. So I stopped taking that as well. I can’t help feeling that I just need to run. I NEED to become a runner again. I have to drag myself out the door.
I will become a runner again. I will.