I've not been running for ages.
I was running, and then I fell down a hole. It's hard to run when you're down a hole. It's hard to do anything when you're down a hole. Generally speaking, no-one likes to be down a hole. (My baby girl, recently told the nursery rhyme of the old man who fell off his horse into a ditch, looked at me with alarm and said: "I don't like ditches. He should have gone on his scooter instead. On the pavement.")
Would that I was in a ditch, shallow enough to clamber out. The hole I'm in has high walls and no hand-holds. Sometimes I look up and see stars glimmer late at night. Much of the time it's just black.
My comfort, threadbare and patched thing that it is, is that other people know this hole too. To some of them it's not a hole, but a black dog that follows them around and haunts their footsteps. Others just call it more bluntly: depression.
Here are some of the things you pick up fast when you're depressed, or prone to regular bouts of depression: don't drink or smoke (it makes the hole deeper and darker), do long, tiring physical exercise (pushing your body makes your mind go quiet - just so long as you can get out of the front door), do learn how to smile when you don't feel like it (but be aware that often when you think you're smiling you're just looking grim and weird and making people worried.) Send texts to friends and family instead of phoning or taking phone calls so you don't have to fake a smiley voice too. Know that getting out of bed some days is a victory; that on other days staying there is the only course of action.
Oh, listen to me go on. Oversharing for the common good, or just having a World Wide Weep? A nagging doubt while I'm down in this hole is that I'm just being a bit pathetic. As Leonard Cohen said (you get to know the big names down here: the godfathers and godmothers of gloom who felt it all before you) "The term clinical depression finds its way into too many conversations these days. One has a sense that a catastrophe has occurred in the psychic landscape." So is this just a modern-day malaise? As I sit here, in my family home, amid my family comforts, with the late Indian summer sun shining and the photographs of those I love and who love me looking down on me, as I sit here thinking "poor, poor me" - should I just tell myself how lucky I am to have the time to think and worry?
I don't feel lucky. I feel like I've had flu for weeks: an illness that initially generated concern and legitimate reason to take it easy but that now is just getting really boring. I'm bored of crying randomly at weird triggers (folding my children's clothes, unable to find something I need on a supermarket shelf. Anyone?) I'm bored of feeling utterly outfaced by the smallest tasks: reduced to frozen confusion by the decision whether to do the washing-up or the ironing first. I'm bored of the constant, sick fear that something is badly wrong. I'm bored of being so boring and self-obsessed: I agonise and I fear I antagonise, even as my ever-patient family nod kindly and hug me.
I need to get out of this hole. I need to get out of the house. I need to get out of the house and run. I need to run with no music and listen to my body instead of the mutterings of my mind. But I'm apprehensive about leaving the house. These days every sortie is accompanied by twisting nausea in my stomach. Even on the school run, a drive of ten minutes in total, I have to grip the steering wheel tightly to suppress the tremble in my hands. (Having the shakes is a new phenomenon this time around. I'm hoping it doesn't stick.)
But this is not a sob story. (Oh - funny! Hoho. I mean: it's just how it is, this story about sobbing.)
So I need to go and find my running shoes.
I might even put them on.
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