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The Parallel Between Depression and My Ultra-Long-Distance Running Career

Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

The following story is brought to you by The Movember Foundation. The Movember Foundation is the leading charity dedicated to changing the face of men’s health around the world. With a singular goal to stop men dying too young, the Foundation supports the following causes: prostate cancertesticular cancermental health and suicide prevention. Since 2003, the support of more than five million participants has funded over 1,200 innovative projects across more than 20 countries. To donate or learn more, please visit Movember.com.

I always imagine myself deep in a hole unable to crawl out.

In my running, so many times I’ve laced up my shoes and I’m ready to go, and I know if I can just get out that door, I’m going to feel better for it. But it’s a door that won’t open, even though I can grab it.

There’s a parallel between suffering and that dark place I feel when I go into the hole and the darkness and powerless feeling late in a race. But the difference is I control it. I can make that pain stop at any time. But I choose to stay there and I embrace it. Without a doubt, it’s a coping mechanism and an important part of my life. But when things don’t go right, I’m more likely to find myself struggling.

This past year is a good example. I had what should have been a career-ending injury. There is no doubt that pulled me into the darkest period of my entire struggle with depression. It was a frightening time. It was the most I thought about ending my life.

Reflecting back on the time when I still held it close to my heart and I had no one to speak to about it, when you are not being your true self, I don’t think you can ever be the best person you can be.

As fortune would have it, I met my wife Christina at a race in 2009 and very quickly I felt comfortable enough, for the first time ever, to speak openly, express, tell her, reveal that I was very often in a dark place. She understood.

I’ve come to recognize the value and almost need to be outside, pushing my body and pushing my mind. Now sharing with others, I really love that part of being who I am today. It’s also allowed me to feel more comfortable being open and honest and vulnerable with my struggle with depression. It’s allowed other people to reach out and feel more comfortable speaking to others close to them and breaking through the stigma associated with mental illness and depression.

Image via Rob Krar/Movember

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