I often say that sports, in my case soccer, has saved me, but for Eleanor Crick, that is perhaps even more true. On her website Loop Depressievrij, she writes (in Dutch) about how running has changed her life dramatically. Her story has fascinated me for quite some time, and I’m very happy that she wanted to share her journey on my blog. Enjoy!
If you get to know me now you would probably never guess that I used to hate working out. I used to prefer sitting on the couch watching TV, drinking a glass of wine. Or rather, a whole bottle of wine. But a year ago this all changed. That’s because I got a wake-up call…
I was suffering from a depression, my boyfriend had broken up with me and I felt awful. It was like I was losing everything and my world was falling apart. I didn’t want to do anything anymore, aside from putting an end to my life. The memory is as vivid as if it happened yesterday. I had been admitted to a closed psychiatric ward, for my own protection. People were talking about me as if I wasn’t in the room with them. My mind was clear, but it felt like I wasn’t in my own body, somehow. And I saw the despair and sadness in the people around me. Because of me.
Today, it’s almost a year ago that I was admitted. It’s crazy how much can change in such a short time span. I don’t even know where to start, but let me try to start at the beginning. At that moment, one year ago, I decided to turn my life around, and put all my attention and focus towards achieving a goal. A goal that would allow me to be proud of myself, because I was feeling so miserable. When you’re depressed, it’s extremely hard to get out of bed. It feels like it would be better if you weren’t there. That you’re worthless. So, you need something to get out of bed for, every single morning. A goal. For me, that became the half marathon.
When I was released from the hospital last September, my lifestyle changed dramatically. Together with the people closest to me I decided that it would be best if I temporarily dropped out of college, to focus on my recovery. Aside from that, I made sure I had a solid rhythm to my days, started eating healthier, stopped drinking alcohol, and on top of that I made a schedule that would allow me to prepare to run the half marathon. Running three times a week with endurance training during the weekends, strength training twice a week, and some yoga every now and then.
All the frustration, anger, and sadness I felt, I let out by running faster or doing more repetitions. It felt so good, and afterwards I was so proud of myself. I was more energetic, got in better shape and felt happier. It was working. I also decided not to get on the scale during this ‘transformation’, because I was afraid that I might go a bit crazy and focus too much on the weightloss.
Working out was supposed to be my therapy, and wasn’t about losing weight. It was an outlet to make my head clear and to get my life back on track. I especially loved the endurance training on the weekends. Two hours of running at a nice pace through the woods, it was amazing. It felt like I could go on forever. The road, the trees, my footsteps on the ground. Wonderful.
Finally, March came, and it was time for the half marathon. I had mixed feelings: I had been working towards that moment for so long, but what was I going to do afterwards? Would I end up feeling down? How am I going to keep myself running? But fortunately, this ‘black hole’ never came. The half marathon went extremely well and I felt fit and energetic when I crossed the finishline. It was astonishing. I had reached my goal and truly turned my life around, and in the process, I had even become addicted to running (in the good, healthy way, of course!).
Today, I still run. Sometimes three times a week, sometimes just once. But I do it to clear my mind and to enjoy it. Besides that, I like writing about my experiences and inspire others to start running. Because I truly believe that you can run yourself depression free.
Eleanor, thank you so much for sharing your story! To all the other readers: talk soon! 🙂