I felt something was going terribly wrong for a long time, and finally after living unhappy and miserable life for years I made a self referral to Mind Matters services.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in October 2019 (top marks on the PHQ-9 and GAD7 scale). I remember my GP advised me to try some form of phisical activity, perhaps running while I was signed off work for 2 weeks.
I hated running with a passion all my life. The only time I was forced to run was to either catch the school bus, or my runaway dog. I even managed to avoid all running related PE lessons. I thought to myself that GP couldn't be more wrong!
Nonetheless, the next day, I put my old trainers on and I left the house. I managed to cover approximately 2k before I felt sick and fed up. I took few photos just to remember this day.
The next day I tried again, went a bit further, took more photos. Didn't like it. Had a break.
After few days I tried again. It was a battle, I didn't want to leave the house. I run 5k. I was stopping and taking photos.
As the time went by I started to run 3-4 times a week, sometimes 3k, sometimes 10k. I really started to enjoy it! I was practicing grounding techniques I have learnt during my CBT, and this really made me appriciate time outdoor, nature and I started to feel free.
I invested in some more decent running gear, even signed myself for few races in 2020, nothing serious.
By the time we enter the first lockdown, I was very much in love with running. I was running often, further and I was discovering places near by, I didn't even knew existed.
All races and events were cancelled. But it didn't matter, I was running for me. It was my time, my therapy.
In June 2020 I had my final depression and anxiety assessment. Depression dissappeared, and the questionnaire showed very low anxiety. I felt like at the top of the world. I was happy, positive, hopeful and grateful. I finally remembered what joy, excitement and ambition felt like.
I had an ambition... I signed myself up for Virtual London Marathon. I began my training. I wasn't treating it very seriously, but gradually increased my distances to 21k. I never forgot to take photos during my run.
End of September came. There was only one week left until the Virtual London Marathon on 4th October 2020. I decided to raise money for MIND.
Few days before the Marathon, I received the most dreaded news. My daughter tested positive for Covid 19. We all had to self isolate for 14 days.
I was absolutely devastated, heartbroken . I knew that I wasn't allowed to use the treadmill. I have a very small garden, and driveway. I had this ridiculous idea, that perhaps I should try and run it there. I didn't think much of it, and I posted my race number on social media.
The Virtual London Marathon day.
I started running just before 7am. Soon after that I realised that when I run, VLM app as well as strava weren't reading the distance properly (because of the small space).
I started to walk. I had my food and drink station set up in the conservatory, and my children were cheering me, and counting the laps (they gave up after 1000).
All my neighbours were kind enough to stay in, so I could be out. I could extend my route by additional few meters.
I received phone call from track and trace. They wanted to make sure I am managing isolation ok, and I feel well. I wasn't.
After approximately 30k my knee started to hurt massively (due to constant turning). Soon after I was in agony. I cried. I nearly gave up. Went back home. Looked quickly at the messages.
The amount of people who messaged me and said that they were tracking my progress was overwhelming! Strangers wished me strength and good luck. By this time I raised over £100 for MIND.
Adrenaline kicked in, and I was back outside. I walked my last km and finished the marathon just after 7pm.
I will never, ever forget how I felt. I felt extreme pride and happiness. Didn't managed to move or to go upstairs until the next day, but I raised £200 for MIND, and completed the marathon in self - isolation.
In 2020 I ran over 1200k, took thousands of photos and discovered many beautiful places.
In 2021 I've run 650k so far. I signed myself for 7 races.
Without a doubt, running saved me, and gave me my life back. It became my biggest passion and
I will be forever grateful.
Haven't seen my GP since 2019, but will have to thank him too next time!
Now time to plan tomorrow's route...
Many thanks to Karolina for sharing her story.
If you'd like to share your running story then please get in contact via firstname.lastname@example.org.