Running and depression are not concepts usually connected, but I consider running as movement therapy and here’s my personal testimony.
I felt lost. I blew up unreasonably and got angry at the smallest things. To be honest, I felt an emptiness I had never felt previously in my entire life. For the first time, that thing they call depression hit me.
And it hit me hard.
Losing My Father
Growing up surrounded by books and a small family (when I say small I mean just me and Papa) in a poverty-stricken town, I thought I was used to being alone — but I soon learned that I was wrong when my Father passed away.
Even before that loss, I already had trouble getting myself together; and despite the rocky relationship my Father and I had, he was always there for me. He lifted my spirits with silly jokes, good food and out-of-this-world advice.
He even believed that I could be a bestselling author someday.
Months after my Father passed away, I decided to wrap myself in the small, dark, empty house that he and I once called home.
The cliche goes, “I have been broken before” but losing the man who had been there for me all my life meant I was beyond broken. I was shattered by his passing. I didn’t know where to start or if there was even something worth starting over.
It occurred to me that I was going to live life alone, getting through the days without the Father who had been with me from the moment I took my first breath.
No Father to prepare my morning coffee, no Father to listen to me while I discussed writing projects and most of all, no Father to argue with. His death put me at the end of my rope but, surprisingly, it never crossed my mind to take my own life.
Running And Depression: Why I Needed It
It was a dark time. I was so depressed that even the touch of the wind pinched my skin. I felt very empty.
Going to work and just doing my 9-to-5; then I’d go home, grab a bottle of vodka and lock myself in that dark, empty house. It was the same routine for the next ten months. The only thing that changed was the flavour of vodka I’d pick every night.
Nobody knew that I turned to alcohol to soothe me. I’d go to work, come home and drink my emptiness until I passed out.
Then one day it occurred to me, “what am I doing with my life?”.
The corners of my head said I was destroying it, pushing myself further down into a hole and I was aware that, possibly, I was approaching a point of no return. I didn’t want that.
I told myself I’m better than that. And I needed to do something about it. But what? How?
Running And Depression: A New Lease Of Life
Then it just happened. Instead of hitting the convenience store for another bottle I decided to do a late night run. It started there.
I’d run early in the mornings (4 AM!) until sunrise. Somehow, running unleashed those negative emotions. I couldn’t remember when it happened, but I began loving sunrises and sunsets. I began appreciating the things around me.
A couple of months later, those runs took me through hills, mountains and trails. All that pounding on the ground brought my life to a whole new dimension of healing, gratitude and most of all happiness.
When I feel frustrated at work, I run. When I feel my body is giving in, I run. While suffering from writer’s block, I run. I run on flat roads, on ridges, on mountains, on trails.
What I learned through it all is that movement is a therapy, that running and depression can be linked in a positive way. You gotta condition your body if you want to condition your mind and your emotions. I am healed, living life, giving and living the dream as a writer.
For greater insight into interacting with those suffering from depression or if you would like to chat with others affected by depression, I highly recommend joining the app, Reachout.
Vergielyn Cubol a writer from the Philippines. She is the creator of Project Happiness, a hike-and-help cause dedicated to share positive stories and spread happiness to underprivileged children in distant remote areas around the Philippines.