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Kevin Carr – Battling depression while running the world
Posted by
24th Mar 2014

 

KevinCarr

My toughest day so far came on 16th February...and I hadn’t even run a single mile. 


You could say attempting to run around the    world is a little over ambitious. Perhaps taking the 'can-do' attitude a step too far, no pun intended there, I promise.

It is incredibly ambitious I agree, but not based upon unfounded optimism. There have   been thousands of hours of training for the past six years leading up to this attempt.

But to even have the idea cross your mind, and to consider it seriously, is on the extreme end of the spectrum of pushing yourself...almost punishing yourself.

This 'dreaming big' (often too big) seems the exact opposite of suicidal depression, but for me the two are inexplicably linked and I've fought to manage this all my adult life. It seemed something flipped as my adolescent brain matured and I've never seen the world through those happy go lucky eyes since.

Running is my therapy, if I push myself hard enough I get to feel good for a few days. If I don't run for a whole week then the following week I know I'll be unduly pessimistic.

I've learned to keep my yo-yo extremes in check to the greater extent. I'm acutely aware that I live a very privileged life, where I am literally chasing my dreams day by day and step by step.

But this was the first day during the past six months that I couldn't 'pick myself up'. I knew it was coming, the previous night my mood nosedived for no outward reason. I can and do ignore this, and try to be busy. I find physical activity combined with being busy the best antidotes.

That morning I got up early to run and my legs felt like lead, and I ached all over. I could have forced myself to run, but I knew it'd be much slower than normal resulting in more hours in the afternoon sun and possibly a repeat of the previous week’s heatstroke, so I made the correct decision to rest.

This is when my brain went into self-criticising overdrive! My day of rest consisted mostly of feeling very guilty and pathetic for not moving towards my goal. These are not rational thoughts; I know objectively that I'm doing pretty well. I've run over a quarter of the “way round” now; I see no reason, barring serious injury, that I won't complete the run.

The other side of this manic ability to dream big is the ability to self loathe and pick fault in your actions, to the point that you undermine yourself and your dreams remain just that, 'dreams'.

I've learned to manage this, and accept it. I simply pay no attention to these thoughts, I know they're unfounded, serve no purpose and they will pass.

This was the first day that I've not had the energy to do this. I suppose heatstroke, antihistamines, anti-depressants, anti-malaria drugs and chronic over training can all interact!

I'm fine now. Already looking forward to running again tomorrow however it took hours not seconds to get out of that rut.

But for most of the day I relived the gut churning despair and pain that I experienced daily in my late teens.

Through experience I now know these states come and go, and as I said, I actively fight them, choosing not to pay them any attention. This gives them no power over me, but it does take a lot of energy to do this.

As a teen this can be much harder to do.

At any point in your life, mental illness can strike. Without a great family and friends behind you it can be far too much to handle. It can often feel like a solitary prison, and there's only one sure-fire way out.

I'm running for an incredible charity called SANE, who work to help fight the stigma associated with mental illness and are researching ways to reduce suicide attempts.

If you can, then please consider donating even as little as one tenth of a penny (£0.001p) per mile run by clicking the link below:

http://www.justgiving.com/HWR/eurl.axd/9bb12e1d5a6a84409b6835cc3650eca0

I'm more than a quarter of the way through now, which seems a good milestone.

4,500 miles x £0.001p = £4.50

If you're feeling flush then maybe count kilometres instead of miles, which would mean a £7.00 donation.

Both myself and SANE will be very grateful for any donations.

 

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