Before I jump into the deep and random thoughts, I just have to say that today I completed Week 8, Day 3. That means I have 3 more runs before I complete C25K!!! I will be ready for the 5k on June 9th!!!
I think about a lot of things when I run. Some seem to be pretty complex, like the current state of male/female relationships. Others are deceptively simple - like which will come first - finding a running skirt or shorts that don't bunch up between my legs when my thighs rub together, or my thighs becoming toned and slim enough to not rub together. Those of you who have never had big thighs have no idea just how intricate that last dilemma is.
As I ran today, when I wasn't thinking about my thighs, or what my burlesque name and costume will be, I was thinking about depression. I spent the last two summers caught up in pretty intense depressions. This is interesting for me because usually the summer is the time when I come out of whatever depressive phase the short, cold days of winter have plunged me into.
But for two years in a row, my normal mood cycle was thrown off by relationship trauma and I found myself spending the long, hot summer days sitting very still and trying not to feel or think too much. In my memory those summers are symbolized by an eclipse - a very bright sun, partially covered by a disc of darkness.
This year, I find myself on the verge of another eclipse summer. So many things are not the way I want or need them to be, and I have started to feel like I don't connect well with people beyond a superficial level...and sometimes not even then. But mostly, I'm feeling down because I recently chose to have no contact with someone because I couldn't have the relationship I wanted to have with them.
Now, I know there's a difference between feeling down, and being depressed. Feeling down is usually circumstantial and passes in a short time. Depression tends to be deeper, more inherent and tends not to be a passing phase. I think I am inclined towards depression as a part of who I am, but I tend to push back against it - because frankly, I'm more contrary than anything else. But, circumstances can push me over the edge and weaken me to the point where I can't fight those depressive tendencies.
So, here I was, on my birthday, yesterday, allowing myself to be swallowed up by every kind of negative thinking under the sun. Depressed thoughts, anorexic thoughts, fat thoughts (yes - anorexic thoughts and fat thoughts often happen hand in hand) and the behavior that, for me, goes along with them. Sitting for long periods of time, doing nothing, or virtually nothing switching back and forth between not letting myself think or feel anything and letting huge waves of emotion and horrible thoughts wash over me.
Then, I picked myself up and dragged my way through the emotional fog to do what was expected of me - spend time with my kids and let them sing me happy birthday, and eat nasty Crumbs cupcakes. And then I was exhausted and fell asleep, sitting up on the sofa, fully clothed.
And right about now, I'm sure you're thinking - "I thought this is supposed to be about running. Where's the running part?"
I woke up this morning, and my first thought was, "Run." So I put on my running clothes and my sneakers and I headed out the door. And as I started my slow, plodding, run up the hill, I first thanked the friend who posted on my facebook page yesterday that she ran a mile without stopping for the first time because of the inspiration she gained from reading my experiences with C25K.
And then my brain wandered to the ended relationship - and the relationship turmoil of the past two summers. And I found myself wondering if I was about to sink into another eclipse summer. And then I started to realize that I was right in the middle of the one thing that could keep me from falling into that. The running could save me.
Now, I know, more than anyone, that exercise alone won't keep depression away if it really is determined to take hold. I can't tell you how many times I've been really depressed and wanted to smack someone who told me that I would feel better if I would just go out for a walk. But, running is a big tool in the arsenal of things to work through the circumstantial crap that leads me towards getting depressed.
Today, as I ran, when my legs felt heavy, I let good thoughts about myself help me lift my legs up. And when the "little hater," tried to push its way in, I threw those thoughts on the ground and ran right over them.
Now, I feel a little lighter. That disc of darkness in front of my sun is a little smaller. I feel a little more hopeful that my summer can be more bright than dark. And I'm a little more content with myself and who I am. My path might be long and hard - but I just have to keep running it.