Why I’m running for MIND – Susan Wood (aged NEARLY 50)
I ran. I ran to and from school, at school, around the house, outside the house. The phrase “ants in your pants” could have been written with me in mind! I suppose it helped that my generation didn’t have the gadgetry the kids today have – we had Blue Peter, Jackanory and the great outdoors (this was the 70’s). Bedtime was when daylight started to go, or the street lights came on.
At school I excelled at running, especially long distances, and frequently represented my county in competitions – 1500, 3000 and cross country were my bag – what was the point of running for 30 seconds?? It was predicted that I could have gone on to bigger and better things, but then hormones and boys (or more the hope of boys), appeared. I wanted to dance to Duran Duran at the Youth Club, not clean my running spikes, so, aged 15, it stopped. Dead. Spikes shoved to the back of the wardrobe.
Fast forward a few years (ok, maybe more than a few….). It is 1999 and I have just had my third child. Life should be perfect, but this horrible, creeping feeling of misery takes over life. Post natal depression is diagnosed and I am offered the latest wonder drug – Prozac. I freak out. This is 1999, mental health was still something you didn’t talk about, and to some extent, you were a weirdo, not normal and definitely needed to pull yourself together. I refused it. Hell, people went through worse, what did I have to moan about?? Soooooo this became a way of life for the next nine years, getting slightly worse with each passing year. My husband was a saint. My kids bemused. Something had to give….and it did. Something snapped big time one Sunday. It was like a switch being turned on. I wrote a rambling letter, jumped in the car and headed for the local lake. I was lucky. My husband arrived home early and having read the letter, kept calling my mobile (brick-sized, you remember them!!) until I had to stop the car and either answer it or throw it out of the window. I answered. Eight years of depression medication followed, which worked, but left me feeling a bit numb, then two years ago I read about exercise as an alternative to medication. Eureka moment!!!! I dropped the tablets, started working out, and got myself onto the Couch to 5K app on my phone (now a sleeker, lightweight version!!). Three stone in weight fell off, and I got up to 6k. Then shin splints hit (walking up a hill, not even running), then a non-related surgery. I got out of the habit and half the weight went back on, and the old feelings started to return.
So, 2018. This year I hit the big 5 0. This is the kick up the butt I need. The goal – to get fitter, to lose the weight I put back on, to not go back on medication, and to do a 5k by the big day in June. I signed up to a fitness plan at the beginning of February and haven’t looked back. Fitter – tick. Weight off – tick. No meds – tick. Run 5k – tick!! I ran 5k, non-stop on the 26th March. Proud? I plastered it all over social media, hell, even Mark Zuckerberg gave me a like (he didn’t, but you get the idea…) 10k? bring it on…
Running has given me the chance to manage my own illness, and to manage it without drugs. Had I been diagnosed today, I know things would have been different. I would have talked to people, and not felt ashamed of the stigma there was, even as recently as the 1990’s. Things have moved on, perceptions have changed. Cheer me on at the London Marathon 2028…..