On a regular Monday morning I was staring into the mirror flat-ironing my hair before work in a mundane way when I realized it was possible that I was suffering from a mental illness. Gasp! In fact, more than possible—I had suspected it for at least two decades. Now, quickly approaching 30, it was easier just to admit this (slightly shameful) conclusion rather than the alternative… whatever that did or did not include.
We typically look to our makers for the answers. We study our parents—our God, our idols—and wonder about the issue of origin, fault, blame. In the culture of the American South people are always quick to let you know, “Oh, you can tell she was raised right, that one there.” Is there room in the “right” for divorce, dysfunction, binge-drinking, selfishness, loneliness, isolation, lies, or conflict? What about just a few screaming matches—does that a crazy person make?
And, what if you had a perfect childhood (ha ha)… are you allowed to have problems too? It can’t be entirely impossible to pinpoint exactly where the mind started to veer off course. Was it a series of choices—right or wrong—perhaps a string of failed accomplishments or broken hearts? Maybe it was one incident which pushed you over the edge or maybe it was an accumulation of crazy. Did you bite off more than you could chew career-wise, family-wise—or did you play it too safe and have nothing to show for?
Whatever the origin or influencing life forces, I am sure that I have gone mad over the years. Like any normal-ish person, I figured out how to compartmentalize this issue to make it (or me) less crazy. I file my version of crazy under “LOVE FOR RUNNING.”
Am I crazy because I run or do I run because I am crazy? That’s no new concept, make no mistake. When I first started pounding the pavement, I was unsure of where I was going or whether I could even make it back home without collapsing after that inaugural jog (down the driveway). What I was just grasping then was my need to run—to work out the demons, to clear my mind. What I am coming to terms with now, is that running is not only in my bones and in my soul, but definitely all in my head.
I’ve tried to run from running in the past. I’ve put contraptions around my knees and ankles to psych my mind into thinking I wasn’t built for running. I’ve tried to fill my time with other activities—easier ones—to keep me too busy and the list of excuses too long for time to run. But, my mind always lets me know when my body has taken one too many rest days or weeks…and to running/madness I return.
When I put on my running shoes, I let the road bear the brunt of my anger, stress, or disappointment in life, in people, in myself. Every once in a while it gets a victory lap, as well. Personally, I couldn’t be more OK with losing my mind to running.
And if nothing else, running makes it possible for my husband to sit in the same room as me without having daggers thrown at his head, which I think (most days) is a win-win for everyone involved.
Chamber Chase 10k Series, Bay Minette, AL (13 JULY)