I am a nurse, slowly but surely falling back in love with running. I used to run often, not routinely or seriously, but I enjoyed it. Although I loved to run, I often dreaded going for a run, due to feeling anxious about being stared at. However, afterwards I loved how it made me feel, somehow, frustratingly this feeling can be so easily forgotten.
During my 3rd year as a student nurse I struggled with stress and managing my time well, due to placements, assignments, University and moving. All my focus was becoming a nurse and caring for my patient’s, that I slowly stopped caring about myself. I told myself I didn’t have time to run or go the gym. Slowly my mental health and my mood were affected, so much so I eventually was diagnosed with depression and put on medication. I told my boyfriend and family this, but I did not tell anyone else, I felt embarrassed being depressed and being a future nurse. I thought nurses shouldn’t have their own issues, I felt weak and ashamed. I realise now this was quite an unrealistic view, I am a nurse, but I am still human. So, when I’m stressed my go to, to relieve that stress is eating, chocolate, crisps, you name something unhealthy I’d eat it. My weight increased, making my self-esteem and confidence plummet, making me turn again to food, allowing the viscous circle to continue. This has carried on until recently.
I am now 2 years qualified as a nurse, no longer on medication and felt it was time to get the work/life balance corrected. I have started to run regularly again. Although I was laughed at and called “a fatty” (how original) by a group of lads on my second run, I continued the run, with a smile on my face. I was so proud of myself for this. I know if this had happened a few months before I would have crumpled and not go running again. I am running regularly and continue to feel amazing both physically, but more importantly mentally. It may sound silly, but every run feels like an achievement.
I have always wanted to partake in a race, however I always worried about my finishing time, being one of the last to finish and being ashamed, so always backed out. However, my boyfriend said something which has stuck with me since. “Don’t focus on the time or anyone else, just focus on finishing. Then once you’ve done a few races, focus on time”. With this change in mindset I have completed 5km park runs and completed a 5km race. During every run I think positive thoughts and the runs are slowly becoming easier. I am becoming more confident and I am remembering how good endorphins feel.
I know I have a lot of work still to work on my mental health and self-esteem. So, to do that, I am signing up to different races throughout the year to keep me going. I found Runr through Instagram, I love the values behind the brand, such as donating 10% of profits to Mind. Then when I saw the virtual run, Miles for Mind, I could not wait to sign up. It is so refreshing to see a brand to openly support such an important charity. I have signed up to 25miles but hoping to do more. I cannot wait to wear my t-shirt running, I’m hoping it might start conversations about mental health whilst at park runs etc.
Running is slowly becoming my de-stressor. I will continue to run forward towards improving my mental health.