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How a Runstreak Helps Keep Me Going

Trigger Warning: Suicide


I remember the morning after. 


It was October 4, 2000, I woke up in pediatric intensive care. I opened my eyes and was met with a large orange sphere staring back at me. I was disoriented and confused. 

Then I remembered. 


The pills, the tears, the charcoal, the nosebleed, the tubes, the emergency room, the doctors, and the fear. What had I done? This orange sphere was the helmet of the helicopter transport that was airlifting me to a different hospital. I was 15 years old. I was terrified.


The Start of it All


My journey with depression started when I was 15 years old. At 40 I am still trying to find my way on the path. The journey has been winding, long, and paved with uncertainty. Still, I am here. I used to think the worst thing in life would be wanting to die, trying to die, and ultimately – failing. I will never be so grateful for that failure, for it gave me everything in its nothingness. 


I started running in high school. I walked off my porch, chose a direction, and just ran. I ran until things got quiet, I ran until it hurt, I ran until it stopped, I ran, and I ran. I didn’t realize I was trying to run away from something: from me, from depression, from my life after. 


I was still looking for a way out.


Depression could not be outrun, outsmarted, or outmaneuvered. And trust me, I tried. I even became a mental health therapist as if my depression cared what letters I had after my name. It didn’t.


After that day in October of 2000, I journeyed through many difficult turns on the path of life:

  • Cancer diagnosis

  • Pregnancy

  • The birth of my son at age 22

  • Being a single parent

  • Mental health struggles, graduations, celebrations, graduate school, loss and deepest grief, and love. 


There has been a lot of love on the journey too. We don’t have to run away. We can stand still, we can see, we can stay and we can move towards. 


Finding Still I Run


a woman posing on the beach


Still I Run showed up in my running journey in 2021. It gave me an invitation to be with my depression and move towards something new at the same time. In 2022, I joined Still I Run’s May Mental Health Runstreak which meant I would walk or run a mile, every day in the month of May. I decided to do it all outside, something about showing up despite the weather, the day, the time reminded me of my journey with depression.


The Runstreak piqued my interest because it offered daily purpose, something that’s vital in managing depression. It was something I could accomplish and feel a sense of pride in, even if I did nothing else that day. 


I was undeterred and I kept showing up throughout the month. I kept participating because I enjoyed carving out a dedicated 20-30 minutes, at minimum, to just engage in taking care of myself. It was purposeful, meaningful self-care. 


And the time of year helped a lot - the weather was nice, and I was feeling good so I kept going! This helped a lot when the weather got more challenging. In the end, the weather and completing it all outside was a great metaphor for mental health struggles. We never know what the weather will be, but we adapt, outfit ourselves as best we can, and step out the door anyway. 


This is what it is like living with a mental health illness.


You show up.


I Just Kept Moving


a woman holding up a race medal


In 2023, I joined Still I Run’s Runstreak and showed up for another month of walking/running outside. I got to June 1st and something happened, I kept walking. One month quickly became two and then four and then six. There was no agenda and no plan. I just kept showing up, day after day. 


Some days I ran 13 miles and some days I walked one. It didn’t matter. I was showing up and carrying my depression in the wind, snow, sun, cold, warmth, and rain. I think it greatly impacted my mental health. It offered purpose and social connection at times - something my loved ones could support and encourage me on, and something different. 


It never mattered if I was doing 13 miles or 1. It helped me live in the present and be in the mile I was in. Now, in May of 2024, I’m still streaking. The movement works with, instead of against, my depression. It opens the window, lets in some air, turns on a light, and makes space.

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Guest Writer

Guest Writer

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