Runners come across as strong people by those who don’t know them when they actually are busy fighting their own battles. Then would come along an article how running helps to beat depression.
Narayanan Muthuswamy, a fellow runner, has an interesting insight. “To say one should run to beat depression is akin to using a sledgehammer for a fly. Running blesses one with greater opportunities.” This fly called depression is more like a mosquito capable of causing dengue like infliction that can totally shake you from your foundation.
The trick is not to aggressively fight depression but to let it be. The more you resist it, the stronger depression becomes as you engage more of yourself to tackle it. Just don’t feed it. You need to focus on things you like, in this case running.
Jason Reardon, this year’s 222 km category La Ultra – The High winner, who for four years was in the Commando Special Forces in the Australian Army, at first glance comes across as someone who wouldn’t be perturbed by anything at all. The more you get to know him, you realise that he has that outside guard to protect his tender self. Jason shares his journey with depression and running.
Running with depression and PTSD
I first started running competitively and seriously after sitting down with my GP and discussing ways to tackle my depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) without the use of medication. We both agreed I was most happy in my life when working on improving my own health and fitness.
I had just recently left my position in the Army. During an exercise in my first year of joining the Commandos, I had a son born to my wife. Unfortunately he died 3 days later and I was unaware of everything that had happened until 3 weeks later. This whole experience at first left me with a lot of psychological issues. Over time with the help of running and fitness I was able to work through my pain and come out a much stronger person.
For my entire life when I have run, I feel happy, and free of any mental stresses. Trail running in particularly helps me to focus on my goals and lets me get out in nature moving naturally as we are intended to do.
At first I started with smaller runs. 10kms, 14kms, and half marathons, each time I completed an event I felt more accomplished, and the fact I had achieved my goals made me feel more confident and that my life had more purpose. My friends and people I hadn’t met started contacting me explaining that I had inspired them also to try new things and push beyond what they thought they were capable of. I thought what better way to feel better about yourself than by helping others feel better about themselves.
As the years went by I went after harder and more difficult goals. The distances slowly but surely crept up to and beyond 100kms. Each time I finished I had grown into a stronger human, capable of proving to myself I am stronger both physically and mentally than I previously thought.
The biggest breakthroughs came when I completed events I thought were not possible.
Eventually through running and fitness I became more and more known in my area, so I started organising social running groups, and I helped more and more people run their worries away. My successes led me to coaching positions which in turn improved my life and more so the lives of those I was helping.
Its been proven that by helping others achieve their goals and feel good, helps you heal and feel better about yourself. What better way than to share a run in nature with others sharing common problems.
There’s times I still get down or feel frustrated, and those are the times I put on my shoes and head into the forests to just process my thoughts and run in a silent meditation.
So I leave giving you a challenge. Next time you are feeling upset, angry or frustrated. Put down everything you are doing, lace up your running shoes and go and run. When you return take a note of how different you feel.