Why I Cried Before, During, and After My First Half Marathon (Part I)

But most importantly, why I’m telling you.

I distinctly remember one therapy session about two years ago where I had what some people call their “come to Jesus moment.” A couple days before this occurrence, I had gone for my first five mile run. Ever. I can’t remember if I even made it the whole way without stopping, but I do remember telling my therapist with the utmost pride and glee what I had accomplished. And most importantly, I remember telling her my mantra throughout the entire trek. “Don’t look back. That part is over. Keep pushing forward.” Seems simple, right? And I’m sure every experienced runner has said this to themselves many times before. Well, it was news to me, and I thought I had uncovered the Holy Grail of words. Not only did that mantra push me to my five mile goal, but it so heavily translated into my personal life and the mountain I had been climbing for the past eight years.

Let me rewind real quick to 2005. I was just entering my Freshman year of high school and I was homeschooled (it was a brief four month stint. I won’t get into it). I was starting to get very involved with theatre, and with theatre comes being on stage in front of hundreds of people… in a leotard. Or so this one particular play called for. Thus, my “rational” 15 year old brain thought it’d be a good idea to go on a diet before the play opened so that I looked my absolute best up on that stage. Diets are a slippery slope, though. Especially when one is so young, and it’s not regulated by doctors, or even needed for that matter. I’m sure you can guess where we go from here. Commence many years in therapy for eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. I’ll save the long story for another post, but that’s where we begin.

Now, let’s fast forward to Summer 2012. I was hospitalized that July for a panic attack. I’ll recap the evening in a later post, but I would say this was the lowest moment in my battle with anxiety and depression. By the grace of God, I found a therapist about a week or so after that dreadful evening in the hospital who changed my life (the therapist in the session I first mentioned). Let me note that I had previously worked with many, many dietitians, therapists, psychiatrists, and school counselors to no avail, so finding this therapist felt like striking gold. She cared about me more than I had ever been cared about by a therapist before, and most importantly, she’d been in my shoes and she’d overcome the same things I eventually would. Once I began seeing her regularly, I was well on my way to appropriate recovery, and while there were ups and downs along the way, I can honestly say I’ve now overcome everything I’d been fighting for so many years.

From my “come to Jesus” moment and on, that mantra has stuck with me, and that one run became the most pivotal moment in my life. That’s when I realized that running wasn’t just something I did to stay in shape. It’s something I do to stay sane. Well, that’s the less glamorous way to put it. But, it’s true. Every run since that point in my life has become something I truly cherish, and now when I run I refuse to look back. Because if I look back what good does that do? Road behind me and road in front of me — it seems daunting and overwhelming. But, if I look forward I’m able to see only the road ahead and take in what’s around me. The colors of the trees, the birds, the people driving by. Things I never noticed when I was depressed or anxious. Life was bleak back then. Now, it’s full of color.

I could totally delve into those bleak years, but let’s stick to the positive right now. I want to share how I’ve overcome all that I have, and while running may not be the cure for everything or for everyone it gave me something to use to cope with what I was feeling. It instilled confidence in me, and still continues to do so. The long miles give me many, many minutes to sort out why I’m upset about this or happy about that. But, most importantly, running has taught me that in my own personal life looking behind me will do nothing. There’s nothing that has already happened that can be changed. I can only push forward.

So there you have it. Our story has begun. You have the back story. Well, you have the beginning and the climax of my journey to recovery. There’s one point in particular, however, that best summarizes everything I’ve gone through after my “come to Jesus moment.” We’ll call that “the end” of recovery and cover it next. Even though my story still goes on.

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I overcame an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression with the help of this wonderfully amazing thing called running. And that's why I'm here - to share my story and to help those who are going through what I've already gone through. On this blog you'll find running tips, mental health tips, and lots of joy. Join me as we piece life together one run at a time.

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