I will admit the last two weeks have been tough. Not physically but mentally. Going from an almighty high to what has been just a huge low. Coming from a massive state of euphoria and purpose, I have arrived in a place of little direction and little willingness to even get back out there on the trails. This is something massively new. Depression it in itself isn’t new to me. Even during the Hong Kong 100, there were segments where depression struck. Other runners talk about a dark place that they enter during Ultras. Even during marathons.
Recently Rob Krar, winner of the Western States 2014, has talked about suffering from depression. He talks about the depression within a race “The Cave.”
What’s inside the Cave?
Krar’s euphoria suddenly buckles. Tears pool in his eyes.
“I’ve struggled with depression for a long time,” Krar says. “I guess it started sometime in college.”
He simply wrote the episodes off as stress. Even later, as a clinician, Krar still didn’t perceive his suffering as anything more serious, all the while administering prescription drugs to clients in similar pain.
“I tried not to put much thought in it,” he says, “but it got so bad it was very obvious.” He’d lie in bed for multiple days in a row. “No matter how much you want to deny it, it gets to a point where, yup, yup, something’s fucked up here.
“I’ll do my best to try to fight it off,” he says, “but it almost feels good now. I just accept it and crawl in bed.” He says it will probably worsen as he ages.
What it is exactly, he doesn’t know. Despite his intellect, Krar is generally resistant to self-analysis. “I don’t understand it,” he says, “which is the frustrating part.”
Krar walks back through his past, pointing out potential culprits, but denies any kind of manifesting trauma. To him it’s just bad brain chemistry, and he hasn’t sought treatment.
He speculates about the clangor of modern culture and the downward spiral of the environment and how they probably contribute to his depression. “I’m thinking about everything and nothing at the same time,” he says.
Taken from Running Times.
When reading this I was fascinated. During segments of the Hong Kong 100, I had felt like this. I had fallen deep inside a dark cavern with no way out or light shining through. Many friends have mentioned moments where the couldn’t go on and suddenly without rhyme or reason, they’re fine and ready to go again. And in some cases, faster and harder than before.
Anyway, I digress. Post Hong Kong 100 has been hard. Not just in terms of running. The enthusiasm for so much vanished over night. Work, was depressing and long. Running, just didn’t happen. Clean eating changed to see how much crap I could eat. At one point, I got ready, trainers on, bladder filled, watch ready, iPod ready, and I sat on the bed and had a nap. It just wasn’t happening. There has been research conducted which says that none of this happens (see here). I call BS on this. Well for me anyway. My mood was shocking. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake it. Maybe that was the problem.
I saw this depression as something I needed to fix. And I tried hard at doing so. The harder I tried, the worse it got. I tried to run. I tried to cheer up. I tried to be healthy. I tried everything. And nothing worked. Then this happened:
In the local Isle of Man paper. Me. Me after running. Me after the Hong Kong 100. Me and the euphoria. When I saw this, I smiled and shed a small tear. My sister and mother got together and put me in the newspaper. This was a boost. I started to remember why I ran. I started to remember the fun I had. The climbs. The run downhills. The feeling that I accomplished something. The spark was reignited.
Everyone has to deal with depression in their own way. Some need to let it run its course. Some need to battle against it. Some need help. Some just need to rest and relax. But post HK100, I needed the spark reigniting. I needed to remember that I did this awesomely epic thing and that I can do it again, but faster and stronger.
So tonight, for the first time in over two weeks, I will go for a run.
Thanks Mum and Sis.