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How Long-Distance Running Helps Me Find Happiness Despite Depression

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I’d set my alarm at 7 a.m. and I’d wake up all right despite having had a sleepless night. Within a few minutes I would get up. I’d get ready, put my lunch box in my backpack and walk to school.

“What a nice day! Today is going to be great!”

I’d wish I could say that. Maybe the sun was shining bright. Maybe the temperature was just right. I wouldn’t notice. Everything around me was painted in grey. The clouds looked dark. A gloomy feeling covered my surroundings.

When lunch break started, I’d take a few bites from my sandwich. The leftovers, more than half of my sandwich, would go into hungry seagulls’ tummies. I would chat with my best friends, occasionally laugh. My heart though remained heavy.

Class time would approach, and I’d be back to my own “little dark world.” I’d wonder why it was so painful for me to watch everyone around me do such “normal” things like laugh and giggle? Jealousy and frustration would build up so much. Why couldn’t I feel like them?

I could not remember what happiness felt like.

Each day during my high school, the whole sequence kept repeating. I was going through a lot of pain, sadness, and hopelessness, but then one day… I met someone. No, actually I had known this person for a long, long time.

I hated exercising, not to mention long distance running. This lady neglected all of that. She did not try to understand the world I was living in, but she forced me to go to the park with her and made me run. One thing I knew was that she cared about me.

At first, I hated every minute of it. It felt like pure torture. I could not even run 800 meters. “How will this help me feel better?” I thought. A few weeks later, I found an answer.

The kind lady always slowed down to run the first bit with me to help me cover more distance every day. After the daily set goal was reached, she would leave me on my own and I would fall back to my own little dark world again, but it felt different.

I started hearing birds singing, noticing them flying and enjoying their flights. I looked up in the sky and saw the bright sunlight. The air I breathed in seemed slightly more refreshing.

I believed those were the first steps I took on the road to happiness.

Now, about three years later, I am a runner, and I am making a lot of progress on this road. There are times I still struggle and go off track, but I know if I keep running I will be able to get back on the main road somehow. Sometimes, help and encouragement is needed for me to push on, but that is OK. Even though I have to fight to feel, it is worth the effort. I will keep going.

I hope my story gives you a positive feeling even though you may feel like there is no hope in darkness. I do feel that way as well a lot of times. I still believe there is a reason for me to face the challenge. I want you to believe you can fight too.

For now I can finally say…

“What a nice day! Today is going to be great!”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo by scramp

Originally published: April 19, 2017
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