Friday, 16 October 2015

a moment

A moment on the mountain

At the age of 20 I experienced a major depressive episode. What ? Happy Rob ? Yes.

Poor health, dropping out of Uni, unemployed, no money. Absolutely zero self esteem. It all just seemed to snowball. I was scared of everything.

One day, I reached a point where I did not know how to go on. I didn't want to go on. Yet I did not have what it took to make it stop. I sat for a very long time in a park trying to make a decision. It is hard to put into words what happened, but I had an experience, a moment of realisation, that changed me forever. In that moment, I made a very clear decision that if I was too scared to end it all, then I would just have to accept whatever happened from that moment on. I was choosing it to participate in it. Mentally I was still a mess, and my life became pretty much a purely physical experience. I existed, but it was totally joyless – but it was my decision to do so. No one was making me do this. I endured

Eventually, I simply existed long enough for things to improve. Little by little.

Over the years, similar, but increasingly lesser, episodes have returned, as I have become far more aware of what is happening, better at identifying triggers that have sent me into a downward spiral in the past, and learning ways to lessen the black feelings. You can't stop them, you can't suppress them, but you can manage them. You may have noticed I am a cheery fellow. Laughter is indeed the best medicine, as are friends, diet, and physical exercise. Getting out of my head and into my body is a real game changer.  Relaxation and meditation also help. Worrying doesn't.

I have learned the value of pure physical existence and endurance. That if you stick at something long enough, things will improve, and you will pass through it. On the side of that stupid mountain, I had that overwhelming feeling that if I can get to the top, it will get better, and I will somehow be OK on the other side. It is not going to beat me – and if it does, so what. I have learned that nothing is so important that it is worth worrying about to the point that it takes over your life – running, fitness, winning, opinions of others, work, money, career, finishing a race – the lot. I am very serious about not being serious.

I am a great believer that time is continuous, and we all exist at many points in time, that we are connected to ourselves both in the past, and in the present. Climbing that mountain, I sent a message to that 20 year old self saying “stick it out – you are tough enough to get through all this”. I have done this many times over the years.

Of course I enjoy running and exercise and endurance training for the pure pleasure and escapism it affords me – it is not all about masochism; but part of why I keep putting myself through all this, going the extra mile, is to constantly remind myself that it is my choice to do this, and if I can stick it out, things will get better. Even though it can feel like it will never end, it eventually will. 

I know to some this may be a strange addition to a race report, but I am pretty sure I am not the only one out there with a similar story.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Now back to that stupid mountain.

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