On Running

(Author’s Note: I know about the use of physical activity to treat depression, and to some degree have experienced this myself. However, this was written at a time in my life where I had no physical routine, and very little conscious interaction with depression.)

I am reading a novel right now where the main character suffers some serious heart ache to the extent that she cannot endure being still anymore and just starts running – to the point where her father has to track her down this his car to make sure she is okay. I was reminded that I have been meaning to get back into a physical routine, because I have let that health aspect slip (it is funny to even claim that I might have had it before; I’ve never been much of an athlete, but this is not the most physically fit I have ever been). This whole phenomenon whereby running makes things better seems to be rather prevalent in our group thought, largely, I assume, due to the studies linked to its use for treating depression.

I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed. I don’t feel it all the time; I am able to suitably ignore it and forget it exists come the weekend, but something about it being yet another Monday morning caused to to Glasgow kiss me. I can’t explain all of the effects and what I am experiencing at this very moment in a way that I feel does it justice, so I am choosing to skim over that and drop into in when/if I find the right words.

Earlier, in a moment of utter immobility caused by being overwhelmed with all the thoughts I have about life – they were jostling together and screaming so loudly at each other that I could not pick out any distinct voices – I was given the advice to go for a run. I decided to act on it immediately (it snapped me out of my frozen state), pulling out clothing I haven’t donned in quite some time and took what felt like far too long to look for the only good pair of headphones I own before deciding that having music on my run was over-rated as I would have to carry my music player and I just wanted to be free – plus I couldn’t find the headphones, which was incredibly annoying considering I can usually find everything I search for. I didn’t want to use this failed search attempt as an excuse not to act. I slapped on my sun glasses, assured that my door would be unlocked whenever I returned, and left to pound the pavement.

I made it two blocks before my body reminded me that I am an overweight, out of shape, office worker who has never been athletic. This realization (at least the essense of needing more activity because I don’t as much as I want) was already on my mind, but the fact that my lack of inate ability was keeping me from fulfilling the emotional purge that fictional characters receive to filled me with sadness. Sure, I could still be out there, wandering blocks aimlessly until the point when my chest gives me the go ahead to tackle another couple of blocks before the wave of self-doubt rushes back to mock me for my flaws, but I found that step unnecessary for this exact creative burst.

I need more exercise, and I have been meaning to figure out how to get it, and I guess I am going to have to make a promise to myself to jump into running clothing as soon as I get home from work each day and just run for as long as needed. I’m going to have to ask help in this matter – and asking for help is not a strong suit, so I guess that will also serve as work for me.

One of the points I am trying to make is that running doesn’t make it all better. I actually feel a little bit worse about myself than I did in that frozen state, but at least running served to get me out of that state and functioning again.

Why am I so overwhelmed? Perhaps if I just list the ways that this applies to me, the task in itself won’t seem too difficult.
– lack of physical activity (I even hesitated in starting the list, because I fear being judged on its content)
– lack of hours that are truly mine (I use work as an excuse for not doing what I want, because I am exhausted afterward, which seems pathetic, because it is only eight hours a day of sitting and typing, and anyone should be able to do that 5 days a week, at least according to what we are all told when it comes to work standards)
– I’m scared of letting go of a source of income because being completely unemployed could lead to many things that are counterintuitive to being able to write
– I’m scared that if I do work up enough money to be able to take time from the working world, my writing won’t be good enough
– I know that I need to focus on better nutrition, but in my mind that means spending more money, which puts back my writing goal (even though I know that puts back my goal of being healthy enough to write)
– I have a lot of fear and I don’t know what to do about it
– I’m sure I could pile a whole lots of other insecurities on here, but I honestly don’t want to bring them up.

I was walking home from work earlier and likened what is happening to me as wrapping cords tighter and tighter around myself to keep myself together. Sure, my job gives me some autonomy, but it is also full of stress and I don’t actually get much time to think – only occasionally do I let my brain slip into neutral while scrolling social media. I only eat if there is food on my desk. It often takes me over an hour to act on the fact that I need to go to the bathroom. I go hours without getting up because I am the only one who can get these things done.

The cord keeping things together made me think of wrapping string around one’s finger – specifically, wrapping too tight until a whole area grows numb. I fear that I am becoming unable to feel. I am afraid that I am containing so much that I am deadening my human emotions. I fear that this will keep me from writing well. I fear that I will become robotic – I will work five days a week for the rest of my life, and not have really lived since I last travelled. I am making great attempts at living now, but I fear that I can feel that sensation slipping away.

Opening myself up involves a lot of trust. I was wanting to speak about all these things, and was hoping to do so when I got home, anticipating a potential emotional torrent, but I got caught in a bottle inside my body. It is self-preservation that makes me want to just keep everything locked up, but my mind knows better and is over-riding that instinct because I know help is available, even if it just takes the form of me writing these less than perfect words and having one person applaud me for my courage to do so.

I need to let go of wanting to only write things that are perfect, and just post what shares me most – and all of it, in some form or another, is captured in this entry.

A gulp of beer. I’m stalling. It is no reflection on the potential internet criticism; I don’t want to interrupt people and demand attention. Trust me, even on the rare occasions when I am proud of my work, it is hard to share it without a nauseated feeling.

At this point, the most important thing for me to do is hit Publish.


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