When Mental Health Gets In The Way Of My Fitness Journey I Realise How Strong I Really Am

In the clarity of a better day I can say I don’t want to give up and that I never will

It’s just halfway through my personal trainer session and I’m in the bathroom throwing up.

In that moment, as I knelt on the hard cold floor with my head pounding I could feel my confidence slipping like sand through my fingers. I stayed in that position for ten minutes, silently pleading for the room to stop spinning and for no one to walk in. When the nausea finally faded I got up, wiped the sweat from my stinging eyes and looked at myself in the mirror. What I saw I didn’t like, a feeling I hadn’t felt since I started running. I saw a broken version of myself; sweat drenched and white as a sheet with defeat etched heavily upon my skin.

After four weeks off hard training I knew my fitness would not be where it once was and that I was going to struggle but not this much, not like this. With a 20 mile race on a few days away, fear closed in. My depression can play powerful tricks on my mind and in this moment of pure weakness it took it’s advance. It whispered sweetly in my ear like a loved one; “give in, give up you know you want to” and I listened to it. Now in the clarity of a better day I can say I don’t want to give up and that I never will but in those shadow clogged minutes I broke.

I made my excuses and left the gym, fake smiles and hollow laughter hiding the crisis of confidence tearing through me. I got in my car and put on the one song that I go to when I hit a running related roadblock or landmine. It’s called ‘Surprise Yourself’ by Jack Garrett and it was my anthem during my first year of running. While the lyrics “just let go and surprise yourself” echoed through my doubting mind I pictured all that I have achieved in spite of all that I have had against me since I started running. I remembered all the breakable moments I’ve had over the years and the simple fact that I just keep going, slowly at times but forward nonetheless. Before running my depression would sneak in to my soul and remain like a squatter for countless days and never ending nights, now I have all these shards of joy to look back at. Running is my armour to it’s teeth and claws.

I know I am not unbreakable but that’s a good thing; we learn by breaking. We rebuild a new version of ourselves in those shattering moments. I broke perfectly and completely a few years ago and in rebuilding myself again I found a love of running. Without that I wouldn’t have all of you amazing readers now, the friends I’ve made along the way and the new extraordinary life I treasure so greatly. So, as I lay awake last night reading through all the heartwarming comments people were sending me after I posted about this ‘incident’ on social media I thought how lucky I am to be breakable. Depression is something I would never wish upon anyone but by defying it every day, I claim those little victories and use it to build a better, less breakable me.

So the next time you find yourself burnt out and on the floor remember tomorrow you can build yourself taller upon the ashes of today.