I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I first spoke out loud about my desire to create a community centered around people who ran for mental health. It was late spring of 2016 and I was walking my coonhound with my boyfriend (now husband) around the block by my apartment. I’d been thinking about this community I wanted to create for a few years, but was too afraid to utter the words. If I said something, I’d actually have to go through with it. If I went through with it, what if I failed? I have a serious fear of failing.
The idea for this community, Still I Run, came from my desire to connect with other mental health running warriors.
In 2011, I was hospitalized for depression and anxiety. One of the many things I took away from that stay is that exercise can be beneficial for mental health. For me, that form of exercise was running.
After making the connection between running and mental health, I wanted to connect with others who did the same thing, but I was unable to locate a group. I searched for years for a community of some kind to connect with. It wasn’t until I read Daring Greatly, a book about vulnerability, by Brene Brown that I decided I needed to just start something on my own.
On October 10, 2016, I launched a Facebook page and website I created myself, not expecting much. A month later, I fully embraced the idea of vulnerability. I posted my first blog post about Still I Run, the first time I publicly shared my struggle with depression. That post opened the gates of possibility for Still I Run. After that, friends and family reached out to me. Most were surprised to learn I dealt with a mental illness. Many were moved to share Still I Run on their own social media accounts. From there, more and more people started to find the group.
Eventually, people outside of my home state of Michigan started finding Still I Run. People from all over the US messaged me to ask how they could be an ambassador, donate money, or purchase apparel. At that point, I realized Still I Run had the potential to be something larger than your average running group. And I think that’s because people have an innate desire to connect with others over a common activity.
Pairing mental health and running was just the niche people didn’t even know they were looking for. Still I Run filled that void.
In five years, Still I Run went from a Facebook page and blog to an official non-profit organization. This includes outreach programs like running chapters and a scholarship that helps people start running for their own mental health.
We’ve also become a group that champions and spotlights others that run for mental health. Still I Run isn’t just about one woman’s story of running for mental health. It’s the story of all of us who run for mental health. Through our collective story, we’re getting rid of the stigmatizing narrative placed on mental illness.
Every single aspect of Still I Run is run by a volunteer or a board member. Everything.
Still I Run wouldn’t be what it is if not for the amazing and passionate individuals who volunteer their time and energy. There’s a lot I’m proud of when it comes to Still I Run. But one thing I’m especially proud of is that no one on the outside can tell that we’re 100% volunteer led.
That’s how amazing these volunteers are. They give it their all because they believe in the mission and power of Still I Run. We also wouldn’t be what we are today without help from some amazing organizations that believe in what we do. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible podcasts that have been gracious enough to have me on as well.
I am completely and utterly INSPIRED by the Still I Run Community
Still I Run has been an incredible journey for me. Over the years, I’ve been able to connect with so many amazing mental health warriors both in person and online. Many of the life stories that have been shared with me have moved me to tears. I am completely and utterly INSPIRED by the Still I Run community and that’s something I never expected.
When I started Still I Run, I only thought of it as a connection point. I never thought of it as something that would fill my heart and become my purpose in life. Sure, having a mental illness really stinks. BUT, if the purpose of my pain is to help others, and perhaps make the world a little more stigma free, then it’s more than worth it.