In second grade I sat on my desk and proclaimed that I was going to be a hermit. In fourth grade I remember thinking that if I could just spell all the words in a goodbye note, I would certainly be able to run away. In sixth grade, I suffered from my first anxiety attack.
Depression haunted me through secondary school, college and into my early twenties. It was the albatross around my neck with each job and relationship. I tried everything I could think of to cure what was wrong with me from support groups to therapy to medication. Nothing truly took the sadness away from my line of thinking. Nothing broke fully into the layer of darkness that followed me around like the cloud of dust around Pig Pen.
Upon another move to another city, I was once again crying every night and feeling miserable with every step. On a whim, I signed up to run a marathon through a charity’s training program. The girl who was always picked last for kickball, who got out of gym class for an entire year playing hypochondriac, who could barely run three miles, was going to run a marathon.
Every mile of training was a step away from the nightmare that haunted me. Each footstep removed the shadows from my heart and mind. Each moment brought all of the lessons learned in therapy and in conversation into relief. I was finally able to feel that happiness that eluded me for so long. Five months and 26.2 very slow, sweaty miles later I crossed the finish line and was finally filled with joy.
I believe in putting one foot in front of the other. By stepping into a pair of running shoes and getting out of my own way, I was able to lift myself out of a hole I never thought I’d escape. My life is different today. I am married to a wonderful man who loves me for exactly who I am, I have an amazing job that I am proud of and my relationships are honest and real. I realize that depression, in some form, will always be with me. However, I now know the solution. I know to lace up my shoes and get off the couch.
When I look back at myself as a child, adolescent, or young woman, I wish I could go up to the old me and hand her a pair of running shoes… say “Just get up and go. You don’t have to be first, you don’t even have to be in the middle… Just go”.