Running is My Therapy

I woke up on Thursday, September 4th and the torture struck instantly. My head filled up like a water balloon, except it wasn’t water I was filled with, it was disturbing, bizarre, negative and pesky thoughts. I recognized immediately from waking up I was unwell, but I proceeded onto my daily life. By Monday night the feelings both physically and mentally were so overpowering. I was no longer in control of my own fate. My mind had made up its’ own mind and was about to take my body prisoner too. I felt nothing, I was scared of nothing. I was a prisoner of my mind and so I let it do as such. I had done everything in the mental health handbook including and not limited to journaling, sleeping, exercising, mindfulness, bubble bath, talking with friends, talking to crisis services. Nothing seemed to be giving me any sort of relief. 

Somehow I made it through Monday night’s terrifying events, mainly because I knew I had my calm, trusting therapist who I would be seeing on Tuesday. Shortly after beginning to speak to her, my therapist could tell something was wrong. My gestures and the fact that I handed her a disturbing note I had written the night previously led her to call 911 and the police came to get me once more. I was not mad at her, I still to this day trust her. She did what was probably the best she could because really I was acting on autopilot and the inevitabilities kept speaking to me. Upon arrival to the hospital I remained in police custody for 5 hours before I was informed I was to remain in a psychiatric ward for 72 hours minimum.

8 hours later and I found myself in a bed in a place I have come far too familiar with. I was a danger to myself, I was a danger to others, but most importantly I felt helpless. No nurse, no doctor, no social worker could begin to experience the pain I was suffering with. I was angry, I was disconnected, I was suicidal, I was depressed, I had given up.

How could I have gone 5 weeks symptom free and fallen this far over the span of 1 night?! Everyone wanted to play the blame game – What did you do this day? How did that make you feel? And I told everyone a thousand times I woke up and this is how it went.

My meds were adjusted, some added, some increased. But that brought me no joy. I also began to find out from a social worker that I had been diagnosed with borderline personality tendencies since 2011, but no doctor felt the need to divulge that information to myself.  

Finally Saturday came around and I thought to myself, what in the world am I still doing here? I study psychology, I’ve been in this system 8 times, I know exactly how to get a doctor to discharge me. And so I did as such. To my family’s and therapist’s dismay I was discharged Saturday September 13th. But this brought me no relief, as I knew already it wouldn’t. People from years ago and people from the present assured me I would get through this and there was a light to the end of the tunnel. I took this as meaning that light you see when you die. But I never told anybody that.

Slowly but surely I went on with my daily affairs, school, work, volunteering, clubs. Everyone kept attributing it to stress. I wasn’t stressed, I was just incapable of getting my mind on its leash. It was constantly attacking me like a wild dog.

I had made a commitment in July to run a 25K for RBC Kids Mental Health  where all of the proceeds go towards The Sunnybrook Family Navigation Project and I had fundraised $355 towards it. It was a no brainer that I was not giving up on my commitment and that these children were probably suffering more than myself and I could not imagine that, not for a second.

Thursday brought me some relief in a sense. My head felt lighter on my neck and shoulders. No longer was my head filled with a tsunami of absolutely atrocious thoughts, I began to hear people for the sincerity they spoke with. And Friday I spent all day with my beloved grandmother and while I was not at my absolute best it was the closest I had been in 3 weeks.

Saturday morning I woke up at 5am for my race and continued to run 25km in less than 3 hours. I felt accomplished, I felt invigorated. While the spectators, volunteers, police officers and my family were cheering on my athletic abilities I took it deep down as them cheering on my mental health. And I figured if I could run 25km I could sure overcome my mind. This was the first day my mind and body were in sync. I was no longer a prisoner and I felt great relief. I felt like I belonged somewhere.

The 7000 participants raised $1.7 million dollars and counting for Kids Mental Health in Canada. And this was certainly a movement I HAD to be a part of. It was inspirational, it was breathtaking. 7000 people that cared about mental health. I thought I was fighting a losing cause and that inevitabilities would just prevail. But these people all individually proved to me, mental health is the next wave of health care. And so I took this as a major accomplishment for the run, for the recognition that mental health is a serious epidemic and it needs to be treated.

I reflected that night just before I went to bed on how I could so drastically improve from such an event. And I concluded that while I often preach a lot of advice I never practice what I preach. I always tell people that the two most important steps to recovery are time and patience. And at no time during my downward spiral did I ever consider that. To wait it out, to be patient and to reach out to those who clearly care about you. I never once thought, “You haven’t always felt this way and so you will feel good again.” I never thought that a broken arm or leg takes 6 weeks to heal, and the brain may take 3-4 weeks to heal.

I just want everyone to know there is relief, there is help out there whether you know what you need or not. You need to be as patient as a tortoise and as tough as a nail. We are mental health sufferers, we are mental health warriors, we may have the condition of bipolar disorder but we are NOT bipolar disorder. It is not your identity and it does not define you. You, yourself, have the chance to define who you want to be and I believe every person in this world has a fighting chance at a beautiful life.  

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