Running to stay alive
Posted by Hazel Christie
25th Feb 2016

People run for different reasons. For some people enjoyment is the key thing, for others itís about looking good and feeling good; running to stay happy and healthy. For me, running is about staying alive. It is another weapon in the arsenal I deploy in my fight against the injuries of depression. It has become the perfect defence for a life that is more bearable and worth living for.

When I am very ill I run to forget about the too big world that I can no longer cope with. I trade time with my children for the open road. I am not at the dinner table because I am lost somewhere in my running. I am running away from the gunfire of who has done what to a world where I have only my own bullets to deal with. I might not like what my thoughts have to say but slowly, as the rhythm of the run takes over, I am better able to silence the volley of fire that I wound myself with.

Because when I run I do not want to think. Thinking carries too much danger with it; of the the warfare of my life, its tactics and command centres. So I run to stop the thoughts from boring through. But the beat of my feet does hypnotic work and as I get better the thoughts begin to percolate. A battlefield of events, occasions and obligations passes through my head but now I am disconnected from them. As long as there is sensory peace in the steady rhythm of my feet the thoughts cannot hurt me. Here I am safe from the fear and the terror of my killer illness. Running is the foot maid that keeps me just out of the bulletís reach.

Hidden in the tales I tell about running is a story of freedom. I do not seek the freedom of youth, or the freedom of finding myself. No, what I search, and position and arm myself for is the freedom of staying one step ahead of danger. I can never find the words to tell people that I have suicidal thoughts but I can tell them about the soothing pulse of the run where every swing of the arms, and then the legs, builds into one flowing movement that keeps my heart beating and my spirits up. This is a story they can understand of the quiet calm of certitude and well-being that running brings. But for me, running is less innocent, less benign. Running is a battlefield. Certainly it is about escaping from the shrapnel moments of an adult life that might shred me at any time. But in those instances of not thinking, and not remembering, it is about running to disarm and deter the enemy that is depression.

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