Content note: This post, and the article it links to, mention suicide.
I don’t normally do response blogs to people in the paper; it can look a bit thirsty. But Zoe Margolis’s brave and wonderful Guardian piece Running Saved My Life chimed so much I couldn’t not. Especially as by 10 o’clock this morning I’d had three people say: “You could have written that!”
I have long lived with anxiety and depression. This has spiked recently due to the suicides of friends. And like Zoe, running has saved my life. With the best will in the world on both sides it’s very hard for people who aren’t predisposed to depression or anxiety to understand the profound effect that suicides – and other external events – can have on your own mental health if you are. And, as we all know, finding the right support isn’t easy. It’s not a matter of being “pro or anti” pills, or therapy, it’s finding the right sort at the right time. Although I’ve taken medication briefly in the distant past and it worked for me at the time I’m reluctant to go down that road at the moment. Antidepressants increase thoughts of suicide while your body adjusts to them, which puts you at greater risk when people you know have done it. Finding affordable talking therapy is a never-ending game (I’ve just reached the top of another waiting list – woohoo), as is finding work as a freelancer. I need certainty in my life to function, and running is currently the only certainty there is.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think running or fitness are quantifiably much different from any other hobby that might help you find solace in a crisis. You can easily substitute the words “Faith”, “Choir” “Stamp collecting” or “Macrame” and you’d have just as moving an article. Anything that gets you through is valid. For me as a dyspraxic woman who would generally prefer people not to watch me cook pasta, never mind run across London, running just happens to have acquired a particular symbolic value.
As for “You could’ve written that…!” I have Ambitious Plans in that direction, which some of you know about. There has been some interest, but when and whether it all comes together depends a lot on the execution, so to speak. It needs to be carefully thought through and organised, and all the sorts of things which are inherently a bit difficult when you’re alright one minute and sobbing in a restaurant loo in Berlin the next. I will keep anyone who cares posted.
Meanwhile, the latest news, just in case you missed it (or, again, because I still can’t quite believe it…)