Brenda was the last member of Team Still I Run to cross the TCS New York City Marathon finish line. That was fine since her only goal was to get through all 26.2 miles regardless of time. She never expected anyone from the team to wait for her. But as she got closer to the end, there they were cheering her on. The support she felt confirmed her feeling that she was getting more than she gave to Still I Run.
A Long Mental Health Journey:
Brenda’s mental health journey started at a young age. When she was in fourth grade, she was diagnosed with depression and her doctor suggested she see a therapist. Unfortunately, mental health issues were stigmatized in Brenda’s family, and she didn’t get the help she needed at the time.
When Brenda went away to college, she sought out help on her own. She received a diagnosis of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although she got some support while she was at school, it didn’t address the deep childhood trauma at the root of her mental health issues.
After college, Brenda got married and had twins. She started running to improve her health and found that it also boosted her mood, which was a welcome bonus. She was generally in a good place focused on caring for her babies who were the light of her life.
Then the pandemic hit. Not only was Brenda faced with the stress brought on by COVID, but she and her husband were also having problems. Their marriage was in crisis, and she started having debilitating panic attacks as her mental health spiraled. One of those attacks happened while she was out for a run and landed her in the hospital.
Brenda knew she had to do something. She found a therapist and began the hard work of unraveling her childhood trauma. Looking back now, Brenda is thankful for the low point in her mental health journey. It was the catalyst she needed to get the right kind of professional support.
Finding Still I Run:
During Brenda’s low period, she came across the Still I Run website in a late night online search. She instantly connected with our focus on reducing the stigma around mental health issues. She also loved that we were helping people talk more openly about their experiences with mental health and promoting running for self-care.
When she found out we were putting together a team to run the NYC marathon, she jumped at the chance. She was excited to run and raise money for an organization whose mission was so close to her heart. When she got the acceptance email, she felt emotional. Her first thought was where do I sign?
From there, Brenda says she got more than she gave as part of Team Still I Run. She started sharing her personal mental health journey with friends, family, and colleagues as part of her fundraising efforts. Some were surprised to hear about her struggles because she hid them for so long. And many could relate to her feelings of anxiety and depression.
Brenda got a lot of support both emotionally and financially from her community. She easily surpassed her fundraising goal.
Marathons are Tough but So Are You:
For Brenda, the marathon was an inspirational day. She loved meeting the members of Team Still I Run and hearing everyone’s stories. “We came together as strangers, met as friends, and after the marathon, became family,” she explained.
Her favorite part of the race was the crowds. She heard they were over-the-top, but she didn’t believe it until she saw it. People of all ages lined the streets yelling, banging on pots and pans, and partying as the runners went by. There was so much excitement in the air.
Brenda underestimated the hills on the course and had to pull her pace back a bit, but she thoroughly enjoyed the day. She soaked it all in, stopping now and then to take pictures and celebrate with the crowds. The day was capped off when she was reunited with the Still I Run team at the finish line. It was something she’ll never forget.
One Bad Mother Runner:
Brenda sees more races in her future. Running is an important part of her self-care and one way that she models a healthy lifestyle for her twins. She still packs them up in their double jogger stroller for runs even though they’ve gotten a little big to push.
Brenda has also stepped up as the Still I Run Miami Chapter Captain. She helps our organization with local outreach and plans group runs twice a month in her area. Although she says she gets more than she gives as part of Still I Run, we’re not so sure. We’re ever so grateful to have her as an active member of our team.
If you live in the Miami area or are planning a visit, check out Brenda’s group run schedule on Instagram!