I couldn’t be more thrilled to have crossed paths with Andrea! She reached out to me the other week and shared with me her awesome blog about running and mental health. After reading what she had to say, I knew I had to ask her to share her story of running and mental health with the Still I Run community. Andrea is truly a courageous person and I hope you enjoy her story as much as I do! Please check out her blog too!
Andrea: In December of 2007, I finally decided it was time for me to go to a doctor. I
could not stop crying.
On the way to work… During work… Going home from work…
I felt like a failure. I felt like I needed to end things. I felt like there was no hope. So I decided to go to my primary doctor. When he came in the room, I did nothing but cry immensely for 20 minutes. All I could tell him was that I needed help. All the doctor could do was prescribe me an anti-depressant. It was worth a shot. And it was a worthy shot because the medication worked! But in July of 2008, I had a miscarriage. Even with the medication, I was going downhill again.
So I decided to contact my local mental health facility and ask them for an evaluation. I was scared. I had already had a suicide plan in place. I knew how I would do it and the note I would leave behind. I was not worried about those around me. They would be fine. I was worried about my fur kids the most. I wondered who would care for them and would they be loved as much as I loved them. Honestly, they were the only reason I did not follow through.
I met with a psychologist at Pine Rest and they completed a mental health evaluation. She determined that I suffered from “Major Depressive Disorder, Severe, with recurring episodes, General Anxiety Disorder and insomnia” (mainly from my anxiety). There it was. Me. A severely depressed, anxious, tired, overweight, unhappy woman. I agreed to weekly talk therapy sessions and to see a psychiatrist for a medication evaluation. I learned from the evaluation that the dosage of medication I was on was too low. Once my medication got regulated, and I got some regular sleep and I seemed to be on the right path.
Then, in March of 2014, I had bariatric surgery. I needed a jump start in a healthier life, and doing it alone was not working. I went to the seminars, all the pre-op appointments, and was even placed on a six-month psychiatric hold just to make sure I was mentally prepared for the change I was going to undergo.
I was ready. Everything went wonderfully, and I began to heal. I was told I could not exercise until four months after my procedure. I was making plans on what I wanted to do. All through high school played soccer and was on the local swim team. I was ready to get active again and to start feeling better. Three weeks after surgery I was removed from my blood pressure medication and one of my medications for anxiety. I was feeling great!
In July of 2014, when I got the all clear to exercise, I went to my local specialty running store for a proper sports bra. It was that transaction that led me to my love of running. I told the saleswoman about my surgery and she told me they had just started their summer run camp. It had been going for 2 weeks so far, but I could still join. So I did. And I have never looked back.
I started out training for a 5K. Just six months prior, I could barely walk around the block without a racing heartbeat. It took a while to get into groove of running. It really is much more than just running. There is so much to learn! But I cannot even remember the me before I started running.
I am still depressed at times. I am still anxious at times. And some days are really bad. Weight loss surgery did not cure my depression. And I have learned over the many years of therapy that there were many more reasons from my past that got me to my depressive state other than my weight.
But what running does for me is way better than any medication. I still take medication, but there is no way I would be as able, mentally, without exercise and running. I am more open. I have more friends. I am willing to expand myself and extend my story. I have become passionate about telling people about my struggles. We all struggle. And that one visit to Gazelle Sports has gotten me, to this day, medals in numerous 5k races, a 10k race, a half-marathon, two sprint triathlons, a sprint duathlon and an Olympic distance duathlon. And the possibilities and goals for the future are endless, even with Major Depressive Disorder, Severe and General Anxiety Disorder. Why? Because there is always more to everyone’s story.