top of page

You Can Do Hard Things, and You Don’t Have to Feel Alone in Your Mental Health Journey

Only about .01% of the world’s population runs a marathon each year, so it’s a pretty big accomplishment. But for several years, Sean Voges had his sights set just a little bit higher. A long-time trail runner, Sean wanted to run a 50-mile race before the end of his 45th birthday and a 100-mile race by the time he turns 50. 

Life had other plans, though. In February 2023, right after he turned 44, Sean severely injured his ATF, one of the critical ligaments that keep the ankles and feet stable for walking or running.  “It was a full rupture, according to the orthopedic surgeon,” Sean explains, “meaning it is no longer there and doing what it is supposed to be doing (keeping the ankle torsionally stable, minimizing rolling).”

For some folks the limited range of motion, pain, and potential for an even more severe injury would be enough to rethink those ambitious running goals. Some might even stop running altogether. Not Sean. 

“Running gives me time to myself and helps give me clarity,” he says. “More than that, I think it helps me live in the feelings I’ve been having: stress, anxiety, nervousness, fear, anger. Running for me has become a sort of reflection on my own life: where I was, where I am, and where I might be going.”

And Sean really wanted to keep going toward those big goals. So, when he saw the opportunity to run the 2024 LA Marathon as part of Team Still I Run, he thought it would be a good way to get back on track.

“This will be my first race back, post-injury,” Sean explains. He’s had some minor setbacks because of the injury; his ankle couldn’t always hold up to the mileage or speed he’d have liked to go. But Sean is confident he’ll be able to go the distance – and that’s what really matters. “If I prove to myself that I can do hard things then maybe I’ll stop trying to talk myself out of even trying.” 

The Mental Health Journey

The thing is, Sean is no stranger to doing hard things. Sensitive, honest, and self-aware, he’s not afraid to open up about the difficult aspects of his life – even if they are uncomfortable or stigmatized. 

“I was brought up in an abusive household, and I reconciled that fact by telling myself it wasn’t that bad,” Sean says. “What I didn’t realize, and probably still haven’t fully, is how much that played a role in my adolescent and adult life and what decisions were made because of it.”

It also affected his mental health. “I have battled with depression for a long time and I have had no idea what to do about it for much of that time,” Sean says. “It’s ever more important to me to know how healthy I am mentally now that I have a child.”

In fact, Sean’s two-year-old son is probably his greatest motivation – in life and in running. His childhood was especially painful, and he spent years feeling alone, like he had no one to care or support him. Sean credits his wife for really helping him understand what it means to have someone on your side, someone who will “lend you a shoulder, put a hand on your back, or pass you a tissue.” As a father, he’s breaking the cycle of his own childhood by giving his son that kind of support from the start. He believes that running the LA Marathon on Sunday, March 17th with Team Still I Run is one way of modeling that.

“I want to show my son he’s not alone. I mean to say that I know what it’s like to be alone. When you don’t know how to deal with your own mental health and there is no one around to listen, it seems like there is no such thing as a better life. I hope that by being there for him always, he recognizes that there is someone who will listen. And if he sees his father do hard things and come out on the other end, he will understand that he can too.”

Breaking the Stigma and Inspiring Others

Ultimately, Sean hopes the hard things he’s doing will help others get through their own tough times. That’s why he’s excited to support Still I Run. “I want to be a part of a team doing something for the greater good,” he says, “and that greater good to me is helping people understand what mental health means.” 

“Mental health is recognizing that at any time, and for any reason, people can fall, and that sometimes they need help, even if they’re afraid to ask for it.” 

He adds, “Even just me talking openly about my own mental health will hopefully give space for others who listen the courage to do the same.”


By Autumn Konopka

bottom of page