The amount of times people recommend running to me as a way to heal my mental illness/ my insanity is insane in itself. Honestly, you would think that I had never heard of running before. Lot’s of people with little to no personal experience of depression and impulse control disorder like to tell me that exercise is key to getting better. If running is the key then so is chocolate, because they have about the same effect.
Putting aside the fact that – duh – I’ve thought of running, it can start off sounding like a kind suggestion. It sounds as though John P Smith from Essex really gives cares about my recovery and mental health. It sounds like John P Smith might be a psychiatrist. Except he isn’t, he’s some dick on Twitter that is making me feel isolated. I’ve tried running and it’s great, I feel better for 5 minutes, but then I’m back in my head again and nothing has changed. There is momentary relief in finally feeling something but if I was looking for momentary relief I would just keep pulling my hair out, John.
When I’ve spent nights wondering about how humanity is ultimately doomed and really nothing even matters, it can be nice to run and worry about my lungs collapsing and my legs withering away (read: my wedgie, sore breasts and chaffing). The endorphin rush is lovely and I do feel better for half an evening. To be honest, when things were really bad, feeling sore and tired was better than not feeling anything at all, so in that way I guess running could help. I spent a lot of my time before recovery trying to feel things; I went zorbing down a hill, got a tattoo on a whim, bought three hamsters and died my hair bleach blond. I pulled out my hair and the skin off my feet. None of those things worked and in all they were at least more dramatic than going for a run. They will probably make it into the final edit of my memoir, ‘Ew was that; a life of pretending I don’t fart.’ I will not be writing about a half hour run that made me feel mildly better.
Another problem with telling people to run when they have mental illness is that it might actually work for a day or two and then I could end up doing some mad shit as a result. I would bet a lot of money (partly because I’m awful with money but also because I know I’d win) on the fact that most people stop taking their meds the moment they start to feel better. I know I did – cuff me.
It is so exciting when you begin to feel like you’re ‘fixed’ and so if you’re ‘fixed’ then you’re not the ill person who needs meds any more. It worries me that telling people they can work through mental illness with exercise alone might cause them to drop the other things that are holding them together.
If you have a bad day at work, then yes, by all means, go for a fucking run if you really want to. However, if you’re having trouble living because it is so hard, heavy and overwhelming then please, please go to your doctor. Take steps slowly and one day you will be in a place where running can help you through because you’re supported in so many other ways.
Also, I’m not being funny (lol jk I’m a laugh a minute) this is just one example in a long line of women not being taken seriously about their health. When I say exercise doesn’t ‘fix’ me, I mean it. I mean what I say and I say what I mean, John. Believe me because I’m tired of having to prove myself a million times more than a man. I don’t have time, I’ve got shit to do so just take me at my word.*
ALLLLSO don’t tell me that endorphins from running are going to cure me because unless I am literally rugby tackled by serotonin then it is about as helpful as a dog in a boat in the long run.**
If exercise has helped you with clinical depression then please, I welcome your experience because I will do anything to achieve recovery. However, if you’re not a psychiatrist/ MY particular psychiatrist and have never experience clinical depression, then please, keep your opinions to your fucking self, John.
*You can read here how women are constantly not taken seriously when it comes to their health. God damn it, patriarchy.
**Pun deffo intended. Also I just made up ‘dog on a boat’ as something that is useless and I think it needs to be adopted by the whole of the English speaking population. K tnx.
***I would like it noted how many times I said ‘please’ in this post because I think we can all agree it is proof that I am very polite.