Jogging away from mental-ness

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My profile says ‘jogging away from mental-ness’, so surely I should have something to say on the recent reports of the link, or lack of one, between exercise and depression.

So it does help? Well certainly my local running club’s Tuesday evening sessions are the highlight of my week. It’s nice to meet up with people and do something with odd snatches of conversation, and we often go to the pub afterwards. But when I said that  in passing to someone last night (‘This, right now, is the highlight of my week) , she gave me the most sorrowful puppy eyes imaginable. Yes I suppose it is sad that the thing I enjoy most is something they obviously rate so lowly on the sociability ladder!

I wish I could grab and shake her to make her realise I really am trying to be positive, that isn’t it a good thing I look forward to runs with people, even including her!  Or would that be considered even sadder?

I haven’t been able to think about much else today (BBC’s headline didn’t help either) except for how I can be so sad/lame/silly to say running is a really positive thing for me. Joining the run seems to have backfired now and I’m laying on my sofa in tears now. Should I go for a run now? No thanks. Not in the mood.

Which I guess is (one of) the crux of the irony: it’s easier to do exercise when feeling good. But when already down it’s hard to get going. (Not that that is foolproof either: I’ve also been guilty of pushing myself to run, on top of not eating or sleeping properly, to the point  where it’s not healthy in any respect.)

This isn’t meant to be a depressing post. On the whole things are fairly good. I mean I do things, like jogging on Tuesday evenings…


Seeing the good: Week in Pictures – 12th-18th March


Pne of Dream Electric’s recent posts, ‘Three Good Things – The Positive Data-Log’ struck a chord with me – it was what Celine (CBT Lady) encouraged me to do back in June last year, and what I aimed to do by starting the challenge of photographing what I did or saw each day! I find have a tendency to automatically see the bad side of things, so challenged myself to end each caption on a positive note, regardless of how it started out. It must be a positive thing to be able to do that (see what  I did there?!)!

Monday, 12th March: I've been keeping an eye on the buds on the shrub by the office door,. Reassuringly they'd sprung open over the weekend.

Tuesday, 13th March. This photo is meant to represent my Tuesday night running activity (our club runs start and finish at this tennis club but). After feeling a bit knocked by one of my bosses telling me my drawings weren't good enough, I appreciated going running and being competently able to put one foot in front of the other!

Wednesday, 14th March - Juicy kiwi berries (basically what it says on the tin: grape sized very sweet kiwis, eaten whole!) were on a sale offer at Budgens today, seemed very exotic in a corner of Suffolk!

Thursday 15th March: My birthday! Went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at the old fashioned but perfectly decent Riverside theatre. Although at 26 I have to accept that I'm more than a quarter the way through my life, the pensioners in the film made me feel young still!

Friday 16th: Hazy Sunshine. I tried to line the sun up as a light bulb on the mast, but then forgot and missed half of it from the frame! I hope you still get the idea.

Saturday 17th: Came back from three hours of rowing to find I'd 'locked' my bike like this! Though I was thoroughly frustrated with myself for being so inoompetient, I did sort of persuade myself to see the funny side of it (my post on FB got quite a few '*likes*) and to be grateful that I live in a fairly civilized town with an undesirable 10pound granny bike.

Sunday 18th: I visited the Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex. It's a quiet time of year for the gardens, but the woodland bulbs and scree garden sempervirens were worth the logistics of 3 trains and a cycle ride to get there!


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A while back in one of my early sessions with Celine (CBT Lady), I made a list of goals that I wanted to do, or to start doing again. Most were boring, logistical things like spending only reasonable amounts of time on uni work and eating three meals a day. I also included a couple of fun things, like trying to go out with friends once a week, and to go for a run once or twice a week.

In truth, I was already often going for a run once a week with a friend, so that part of my goals wasn’t too arduous. But at least it kept Celine happy, as she probably otherwise would have gone off on a typically therapist mantra of ‘exercise, exercise, excercise and everything will be happy jolly bunnies’. I also suggested that that would kill two birds with one stone on my list (friends + run), so was a bit crestfallen when Celine pointed out that that slightly missed the point of trying to work a range of activities back into my life!

I managed to keep up going for a run about once a week for most of this year. Though I think I categorically can say it is not responsible for helping me feel less low now! When I was feeling my worst this year, through Feb, March & April, it definitely didn’t benefit me at all going for runs on 3 or 4hrs sleep (I allowed myself to cop out if I’d only managed 2hrs) and on a fairly empty stomach having often forgotten to eat the previous evening (sounds silly now, but I seemed to achieve that on more occasions that I care to remember)!

Edit: After discussing this with my friend about the benefits of running on my mood, he diplomatically suggested running had helped afterall, as I’d clearly forgotten the worst of how I felt! In fact I hadn’t managed to run throughout the year at all: I’d run til mid Feb when I hit total exhaustion and was physically ill for nearly two weeks. It was then nearly two months before I felt like moving myself into running again. Though my friend continued to offer going for a run each week. I must have been remembering that act of kindness, and blocking that fact that I didn’t actually go! 

I think the running itself only prolonged my vicious cirles around uni work as I’d only end up spending the rest of the day and the next feeling exhausted and then feeling guilty for not getting as much done as I needed to, so I then had to stay up later and miss more meals in a bid to catch up! Also, in previous years I’ve played several sports on various teams at any given moment, and my low moods didn’t know to keep away then either. (Really I was just replacing everything else I should have been doing with an extortionate amount of sport, which was pretty ugly itself. I’m grateful my dr didn’t send me on my way without help, which some one else subscribing to exercise =everything-is-fine may have done)

The one thing I think might be good about the concept of exercise, exercise, exercise, no matter how much flack it gets and however much I hated it at the time, is that it helped me ‘hit the ground  running’ (no pun intended) once I got through my most depressed time (which was mostly thanks to time and meds). Because I was running already, now I just needed start enjoying it properly. Otherwise it would have taken more time to pull myself out of default depression mode trying to think of what to do with myself once I felt a bit better.

Since I’ve been home for just over week, I’ve gone for a few runs. I’m aiming for every other day now – trying to find a balance of optimism and realism – I know I’d just give up altogether trying to go every day. The first two times I ran my loop in 28 minutes, and today I managed 27 minutes! I don’t know how far it is, not more than three miles, but it does have a killer hill at the end!

I’m looking forward to getting into a running routine – in previous summers I’ve tended to see the same people out, in roughly the same locations, at the same times each morning. It’s an odd sort of relationship we have with each other: the interaction is limited to a brief wave and an exhaled grunted ‘hey’ (or ‘morning’ if it’s early on in the run and feeling particularly energetic),and in any other sort of situation we would barely recognise one another (not least because of wearing proper clothes), or have anything else in common. Yet we see each other at quite a vulnerable, if superficial, point: girls with no make up on, guys in pools of sweat and close to exhaustion. It’s funny how much you can gather, and give a good deal of empathy/sympathy/support to each other, depending on their running style and ease or strained gait that day.

And I guess it’ll always be good to get out if only to avoid those mean side effects of mirtazapine 😉

Trying to ‘Put Fun In’

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I know I have a tendency to forget the good things. I’ve always been like that. My parents tell me about how they would plan the weekend’s activities for a Sunday afternoon, so that I’d write about good things in my News & Stories book at school on a Monday morning. Otherwise I had a tendency to forget a good Saturday, and just write about my dull Sunday evening. My dad would also tease my schoolfriends and me that we were ‘futurians’ – we’d only ever talk about plans for the coming week or holidays, never discuss what we’d already done. I guess that’s coming to bite me now: I can’t help but worry about my immediate university coursework deadlines, as well as my unknown future after all that, but at the same time gloss over what I’ve already achieved.

Anyway, to stop me coming to next week and feeling that this past week has been a bore, I will make a note of the little things I’ve made an effort to do, to ‘put the fun in, wherever I can’, as my little mantra goes.

So, today I went for a run first thing in the morning round the race course. Then at lunch I went out for a bicycle ride to pick up a Tescos ploughman sandwich (a treat compared to my normal dry cheese one). I’ve filled in another quarter of my zendoodle that I’ve been working on the past couple of days. This afternoon I bicycled to the train station to pick up my tickets for my trip to London tomorrow afternoon (to the Chelsea Flower Show, yay!), and stopped off on my way there and on my way back to find two different geo-caches that I’ve been meaning to find for ages. And now my tutor has just brought me a the leftovers from a bag of crisps he had at a meeting today!

Phew no wonder I often feel tired in the evenings, and that I’m not getting anything done, if I’m doing these things, then forgetting about them, and only judging my day by the amount of university work I’ve achieved!

Lesson to self: remember the fun and don’t judge a day by the university work (or else don’t do the fun and maybe I will get my university work done. But then that really would be dull)