Over the past few months I’ve taken part in a number of Twitter chats related to running. In all of these chats the question “why do you run” is always raised.
My answers have always been along the lines of
It keeps me sane
Running is my therapy
Running is cheaper than therapy
Probably because I find it quite difficult to articulate what running actually does for me in my life. I feel like if I were to try and explain it, it would be like telling an inside joke to someone and concluding with “I guess you had to be there”.
Without knowing how I’ve felt before running, I think it’s difficult to know how I feel after running. Running is a time for me to sort out my thoughts. It (along with medication) helps to keep my anxiety at a normal person level, instead of the heightened level I was running on for years.
It’s how I cope when a situation is spiraling out of control. I run.
To sum up her post (but really, you should go read it – I’ll wait) the realization of those phrases is that
Running probably isn’t really people’s therapy, it’s what keeps them from going over the edge. It’s like a safety net. It’s a workout for your conscience and your common sense.
Thank you, Danielle for being able to look inside my brain and to better articulate what running means. Truly. Sometimes I suck at words 🙂
Obviously I commented, and I scrolled through some of the comments, I noticed a few people felt like those phrases were downplaying mental illness.
And. Well…..I’m torn.
See, I do suffer from anxiety and I’ve used those sayings. Running really does keep me from going over the edge.
Is it a substitute for my medication? Oh hell no. Not a freaking chance.
Is it a substitute for actually talking to someone? Again. Nope. It isn’t. But it surely does keep me from going crazy sometimes.
I also use inappropriate humour to might light of serious and awkward situations, like mental illness. I’m also a huge supporter of talking about it, being honest about it and removing the stigma around it, which is why I’ve blogged about it. I also get….ummm….shall we say passionate when people start making claims like “changing your diet will get rid of anxiety and depression” and “[insert food here] has magical properties when it comes to anxiety and depression”.
No. It. Won’t.
Improving your diet will help and exercise (not just running!) will help and therapy will 100% help, but sometimes you just need more. Please don’t let anyone tell you you are less than because you need a little boost with a pill. I do and I’m okay with it.
So, is running my therapy? Kind of?
Would it be better to say running keeps me from going crazy? I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with all of this, but suffice it to say mental illness can be a rough road, but I’ve been there and let me tell you, the other side is pretty good. Sometimes it’s just a bit of a bumpy ride to get there.
[Tweet “Does running keep you from going “over the edge” some days?”]
@cowgirlruns One definition of therapy is in fact “any act, hobby, task, program, etc., that relieves tension.” So yeah, why not?
— Sarah Connors (@sarah_connors) April 25, 2014
I actually wrote this post a few weeks ago, then I let it hang out in my drafts folder because I wasn’t totally sure what to do with it. Did I want to post it? Would it offend people? Did I care if it did?
Then on Tuesday I went for a run on my lunch. I had a million things going on in my brain – and….I really didn’t know what to do with them. So I ran. And it helped. Maybe it didn’t solve my problem, but I did feel better.
Maybe it was just getting out in the sun and out of the office that helped. Maybe it was moving my legs and working my lungs; I can’t say for certain. What I can say is that I felt better.
Tell me: What are your feelings on sayings like running is my therapy and running is cheaper than therapy?
Related: After writing this post, I came across this article in the NY Times that’s definitely worth a read!
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