After Marylou lost her 22-year-old daughter Meghan to suicide in 2020, she printed the words “Today I run” in beautiful font on a piece of paper. She framed it and hung it in her bedroom so it would be the first thing she saw each morning. And for 3 years, she’d wake up, look at those words, and go out for a run. She says it saved her.
Marylou recently put the frame away. She says she'll always feel the deep loss of her daughter, but she no longer needs those instructions to get herself out of bed and run anymore. Marylou is still running regularly, but it’s changed from being something she has to do to survive to something she enjoys doing because it’s good for her mind and body.
Struggling with Personality Disorder:
As Marylou describes her, Meghan was beautiful, kind, and smart. She was just finishing up her undergraduate degree and getting ready to start work on a Masters at the University of Michigan. She was planning to be a mental health counselor before her own mental health issues became too much for her to bear.
Meghan had mental health issues since she was young. They originally thought she had bipolar disorder, but eventually she was diagnosed with personality disorder. This is an especially difficult mental health issue to manage, and one Meghan had a hard time accepting. People with this disorder have difficulty feeling happy for others unless it somehow benefits them. This can come across as selfishness, which makes it tough to maintain relationships.
According to Marylou, this diagnosis was devastating for Meghan and she fought it tooth and nail. But that didn’t stop her from trying all sorts of ways to deal with it. She saw therapists, used medication to treat related symptoms like anxiety, joined support groups and spoke about the disorder. Despite all that, she would often ask her mom why she couldn’t just “be normal.” Before her death, Meghan didn’t leave a note behind, but Marylou thinks she just got to a point where she couldn’t do it anymore.
A Resilient Mom:
Now that Marylou has put the frame away, she’s focused on her work as an ER nurse. She loves the pace–always go, go, go–and that there’s always something different going on. Plus, she deeply appreciates the camaraderie of her ER nurse colleagues. They even run as a group annually.
Marylou says the ER is filled with people who have mental health issues. It’s a place where she can really help by offering compassion along with medical support. Unfortunately, as she knows firsthand, quality mental health care can be hard to find and it isn’t accessible to everyone. She tries to share her own experiences relying on running, yoga, meditation and the support of others to manage her mental health when she thinks it might be useful.
In addition to work, Marylou enjoys traveling with her husband. She often looks for running groups or races in new areas, which led her to Still I Run. She found our organization in an online search and immediately connected with our mission. She was excited to see that we have national chapters in her home state of Michigan and other parts of the country.
Marylou loves the idea of running for mental health, which can be different than running for other reasons. It’s less competitive and more about feeling good after any run no matter the pace or distance. Lately, she runs without her watch because she doesn't want to get hung up on time. It doesn’t make a difference if she runs 5 seconds faster today than yesterday, but just that she ran.
Running to Promote Mental Health:
Marylou runs in shirts and gear that promote mental health awareness and suicide prevention in honor of Meghan. When asked about the meaning of running for her, Marylou shared these beautiful words:
“I run. I run in memory of my daughter Meghan who died by suicide.
At the very beginning of the pandemic, March 14, 2020 my 22 year old daughter took her life at Eastern Michigan University. I was a runner then but sporadically. We were in lock down and painfully making our way through the loss.
I took to the roads, woods, trails and ran everyday. Sometimes crying, sometimes just breathing.
It's been 3 years and I still run. I run in her memory but most importantly I run for me–for my mental health.
Finding Still I Run was a sign from Meghan I believe. To keep going and keep speaking and supporting mental health.”
Regardless of an underlying cause, suicide is preventable. Refer to: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.