“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
~Nelson Mandela (Good Reads)
This sloth does not want to hear any of your excuses. (source)
One of my favorite things about a run is early in when it feels too hard & I don’t think I’ll be able to run the whole thing, but I keep pushing – because I know I can do it – then I break through, hit my stride, & feel like I could run forever (or you know, at least till I finish this run). I have a tendency to start too fast, so this happens a lot. By “alot” I mean every time. My legs don’t understand slowing down to go the distance, they just know they can go faster! They may be well-meaning, but my legs aren’t very bright. (FYI: I have two tricks for dealing with that overly dramatic feeling of “I can’t go on!”)
Since running is my headspace, & I’m out there for over an hour three times a week, you know I get to do a lot of thinking about this. A lot of that time is spent thinking about how to apply the ability to push on when it hurts, to move through the pain & those can’t-do feelings, to hit my stride & reach my goals to areas of my life other than running. I haven’t figured that out yet. Sore legs & labored breathing are a lot easier to push through than all those fears & doubts & self-loathing planted in my brain since childhood. I’m working on it though! My regular readers know that I have started making some changes that will put me in uncomfortable territory, so I’ll be testing it out soon enough.
What I have come up with is a big area of my life I have been doing this in for years. In fact, it is my life. I am alive today only because I kept going even when it hurt. I’m crying writing this just thinking about all of the time I spent in the darkness feeling hopeless & wanting to end my life. Less painful, but even scarier, are all the times I have not been in the throes of Depression, but have made the “logical” conclusion my life is not worth continuing. Sure it doesn’t sound logical, but when I’m dealing with a diseased brain telling me just because I’m not depressed now doesn’t mean I won’t be again, & I know will be. I’m lazy, stupid, worthless, ugly, fat, nasty, hateful, etc etc etc, & no one could ever love me. I’ll be alone forever because who would want me? I’ll spend the rest of my life spinning between Depression & Mania, I’ll never be able to be happy, I’ll never be able to hold another job for more than a few weeks, maybe months. Just end it now & save myself the years of trouble. I’m going to do it anyway, so get it over with. No one will miss me & they’ll all be better off with me gone anyway. Who would want to live with that noise in their head?
I’ve sat with a variety of blades against my wrists dreaming about how easy it would be. I’ve broken the skin & drawn blood, but turns out it’s not nearly as easy to cut deep enough to kill yourself as the movies make it look & it hurts a lot, but maybe that’s what I get for using a knife I found in the Walmart parking lot. I swallowed a handful of sleeping pills one night when the voices told me it was the right thing to do. Right after I did it I remembered I’m the one financially supporting my father right now, so if I die what’s he going to do? I spent the night in the E.R. puking my guts out, drinking cherry flavored charcoal (yes, it tastes just as bad as it sounds), & tied to a heart monitor because the pills I had affect the heart rhythm so even with it out of my stomach I was still in danger. TMI, the next morning I got to poop all that charcoal out. It was as gross as it sounds. That night I decided I couldn’t die until my dad got his Social Security. That starts in January (but don’t worry, I have a mud run & a half marathon in April, so I can’t do it before then either).
My point with all that is, I’m still here. Even in the darkness or when the voices with their logic like a Vulcan goth nattered on ad nauseam, there was always a tiny little chirp of hope saying “just a little farther”. By minutes, hours, days, weeks, I have pushed myself along the lifeline to better days & I plan to keep pushing for a long time to come. There are plenty of adventures left ahead of me, & a lot of things that scare the shit out of me to do.
There is the saying that “pain is weakness leaving the body”. People are like muscles, they grow by being broken down & built back up, & that only happens when they’re challenged by more weight than they think they can handle. When my legs ache but keep going, when my heart feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest but I’m still standing, every day I wake up, I know I’m getting stronger.
1. Pick a spot ahead of you. Tell yourself you’ll run just that much farther, then you can stop. When you get close to that spot tell yourself you can still run a little more & pick a new spot. Repeat until you’re done. Maybe you don’t think you can run another mile or two, but you know you can run another ten or twenty feet.
2. Just keep telling yourself you can stop & walk whenever you want to, but right now you can run a little farther. It works like #1, plus it’s very freeing to know you can stop whenever you want to. You just don’t want to yet.