A few weeks ago, I made the decision not to race at all this spring and work on a slow build up of miles and a stronger core. And, just like that, my motivation, inspiration, and drive vanished in a puff of smoke, and I landed, face down, in the middle of a quagmire of quick sand. It slowly pulled me in until all I saw was darkness, doubt, and fear. The cold and dreary weather combined with my lack of a tangible goal to make me doubt all my abilities, to fear reaching out of my comfort zone, to wonder if there would be any more big goals in my future, and to sink into the abyss of inactivity. During times of darkness like these, I tend to lose contact with my friends, only get the bare basics of living accomplished, turn into myself and away from all those who can help pull me out, and figuratively(sometimes literally) curl up into the fetal position.
If you’ve never dealt with depression, this post will probably not strike a chord with you. But as one who has fallen into the quicksand before, I know first hand how difficult it is to pull yourself out. I learned many years ago the things that help me get back onto the path with the light, and running has always been a key ingredient in that mix. Take away the running, and BAM, I’m soon stuck in the mire. Throw in a cold, dark winter; changes and challenges in life that I don’t feel equipped to handle; very poor eating/drinking habits; and too much TV, and I’m embedded so deeply it seems I’ll never find the path again.
Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on your outlook) I’ve been here before. I’m no stranger to the dark, I’ve just learned to combat it well over the years. The coming of spring is much anticipated, and I think I’m finally seeing the light. It always helps me to have a plan, so I’ve been busy laying it all out in my head. I figured it was time I put it down in black and white, it seems much more real and doable that way.
The first thing has been really simple. I’m reading the New Testament from beginning to end. I’ve done this before during dark times, and the beauty of those words, the hope of those promises, the reminder that there’s something much bigger than me helps get my head back on straight.
I’ve begun moving again. Slower. Than. Ever. But, it’s forward movement, so it all counts.
I’m working on my nutrition, and thinking about everything I put into my body.
I’m monitoring my self talk more. You know, those voices in my head that make me doubt who I am and try to convince me that I’m not really a runner, I’m too old to think I can run endurance races, I’m an untalented hack, I’m not a good person, and that I’ll never be who God wants me to be. I was honored this week to be included in a blog post by a UK Old Broad who runs, along with several other Old Broad runner blogs. I showed the post to my man this morning and I caught myself saying to him, “All the others included are real runners.” I stopped myself and shut that thought down as quickly as possible. I am a real runner. I’m not fast, don’t look like a runner, and running doesn’t come easily or naturally to me; but, as Bart Yasso says, “I’ve never met a fake runner.”
I’ve been listening to some very inspirational podcasts, reading some great articles about people who have overcome much greater hardships than the dark pit of depression, and am reminding myself daily that I can, and will do this. It always helps to know you’re not in something alone, and I know that many others have struggled with or are struggling with this demon of depression. I’m always happy to lend an ear to anyone who needs to vent or whine. I don’t really have any answers, except that which has worked for me. Sometimes it helps to just say things aloud to someone that you know cares. For me, it helps to write about it.
This verse was in my Bible reading this morning:
What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes.
What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!
Sometimes, Jesus whispers directly in my ear. I think maybe the darkness makes it easier to hear Him. And, being face down in the quicksand will really focus your attention on His words.