Running as Therapy

Arsenio before half marathon

I’ll get to running in a bit. This happened yesterday.

I had just finished working and was about to lie down and read.

I handled the situation well. Didn’t try kicking the door down or pulling it until it broke. In overwhelming situations, my senses get cloudy/muted and I tend to panic and try things rapidly as they cross my mind. This time I sat and breathed before doing anything. The first thing I learned in CBT. It’s so simple but works nearly every time.

I finally freed myself using the credit card trick, sans credit card. I used a greeting card instead. My hands shook for a while afterward and I felt anxious about the lost time, but I didn’t beat myself up over my feelings. I can control them to an extent, but it’s more important to realize I’m fully responsible for my resulting actions. I didn’t even have the urge to yell at my niece. I couldn’t find it in me to cook though, so I had Laura grab dinner on the way home.

 

What I planned on sharing is how running affects my mental health. I started running regularly after being diagnosed with major depression, around the same time I started writing seriously. I had run inconsistently for years, the longest consecutive period being a month. My goal was always to get in shape. I played basketball but felt like I needed to do more. In my experience, the healthiest goals often fail because they are started for unhealthy reasons. For example, the only time I watch my sugar intake is as a punishment for being fat. This time I started running to clear my head and to expel negative and repetitive thoughts, but I discovered most of the benefits when I quit looking for them. (However, it would be foolish of me to think I’d be the runner I am today without proper treatment and medication.)

I noticed it helped curb some of Lexapro’s side effects. Initially, the medication caused me to feel shaky and sleepy. And I don’t mean needing a nap. I would have to go back to bed after getting up. At my first follow-up appointment I fell asleep in the waiting room; waiting on the nurse after being called back; and waiting for the doctor. Running made the side effects tolerable until my body adapted.

I also felt better in general. I had more energy throughout the day and my confidence increased. I stuck with it and fell in love after several months. I love it because I can improve by myself. I can see results that have nothing to do with my appearance. I’m faster and can run farther. Not to mention the unseen health benefits. (And it’s not just me.)

Some of my best writing comes after running, when I’ve gotten rid of any harmful thoughts. Running has also made me less introverted. I still feel self-conscious running past the waiting kids at the bus stops, but I challenge myself to look every runner/walker in the eye and wave before they do.

2 thoughts on “Running as Therapy

  1. Your view on dealing with depression is remarkable, keep it up. I feel as though your blog will help many people dealing with depression and other mental illness

    Liked by 1 person

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