Running for My Mental Health

I want to write about running. And I want to write about mental health.

My head has been in a bad place since February last year, when Rose was born. It’s a tired subject here I know, but to recap:

  • I suffered from SPD during pregnancy and spent months on crutches before being bedridden from pain
  • I had gestational diabetes which seems to be trying to linger around. I can’t get a diabates diagnosis, but I can’t get a clear no either
  • I collapsed a lot from low blood pressure
  • On the day, I had a hemmorhage and nearly bled to death.

Yeah. I wouldn’t be here without blood donors, so thank you, thank you so much.

  • The day after, I collapsed and smashed my face in and spent the day on a drip
  • 5 days after, I was overcome by the most crippling abdominal pain of my life. Thinking about it now makes me shudder in terror. I was lying in bed, unable to move. I couldn’t even call out to my husband for help. I was silently crying, wishing for it to stop. My husband finally noticed me and called an ambulance, although that took an hour as the dispatchers initially refused to send one out. More drips. More hospitals.

Finally, the whole experience was over and I could focus on recovery. At least, physically.

Mentally, I was in a bad place. I didn’t want to have a meeting with the hospital to understand what happened to me – I know it was just bad luck and it was nothing they did. But mentally, I started to hate my body. Why had it let me down? Why wasn’t I in control of it?

Reading that last sentence back, I can see those words “in control of it” could possibly suggest that I was going to go down the route of becoming obsessed with health and fitness, but that wasn’t the case. I just wanted to go out and be able to run 3 miles, hell, even walk a mile, without feeling like I was going to fall over and without fearing getting hurt or passing out!

I was chomping at the bit ready to get moving again, eager to get back to running and bowling. It was at about 12 weeks that I was allowed out and I started with running first a half mile, then a mile, very gradually building up again. I set myself the challenge of completing a 10k, a half marathon and a marathon, and I did it, albeit much slower than I used to, but I finished.

 

London Marathon Bling. I should never have done this, but I wanted to.
London Marathon Bling. I should never have done this, but I wanted to.

 

All sounds good, right? Tough pregnancy, shit birth, rubbish recovery, kick it to the curb and finish a marathon. Physically, I’ve been getting stronger. I still have some weight to lose and my hips and pelvis sometimes still flare up with that reminder of SPD and I notice when I’m bowling that my full strength still isn’t quite back. But I’m much better than I was, even this time last year. I’m not *that* far off where I was before Rose.

But mentally has been another ballgame. Have you ever had those days where you don’t want to get out of bed? Not because you’re tired, but because you simply don’t want to face the day. The idea of doing laundry is overwhelming. The house is a mess, you know you have to sort it, yet rather than just plunge it, you sit there and cry in sheer desperation. You don’t want to see people, you force it. You flick the eyeliner into cats eyes and don a fabulous dress, using it as armour to hide behind.

And you talk on Twitter and FB all the fucking time about all the exciting things you’re up to, not because you want to brag, but because you want to put on a front that everything’s ok, you’re coping.

Yep, that was me. Still is.

I don’t always want to go for a run. Sometimes, I really don’t want to. Especially if it’s one of those days where I want to hide from the world. Lacing up my trainers and getting into my lycra just seems like too much effort.

Daft, isn’t it? The getting ready being harder than going for the actual run!

Fact is though, once I’m ready, once I’m out, once I’m moving, something changes. I feel calm. It’s just me and the outdoors. My mind clears and I might think of silly things or notice daft things, but all those stresses and anxieties just melt away. I come home and I feel better. I can tackle the world. I have a sense of purpose. I can even tackle problems.

I love a glass of wine. Cake is my friend. I love getting lost in a book.

But the fact remains, for my mental health, running is the thing that saves me some days.

My name’s Helen and I suffer post-natal depression.

4 thoughts on “Running for My Mental Health

  1. Thank you for this. I’ve just been diagnosed with pnd somewhat delayed as baby almost 12 months. I tried a jog at 4 months but iron was still so low (I empathise with the passing out) I couldn’t do it and haven’t tried since. Been getting v down about weight so you’ve inspired me to try again. It’s hard hiding behind it all. Thanks for saying it out loud.

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