Two years ago, I started running. The whole thing came as a surprise to me and those around me. I could never really be described as athletic and prior to 2020 I had no interest in exercise. Granted 2020 really was the year that everything got flipped on its head, so I guess it was my fault I was surprised.
I started running because I needed to get my shit together. I had been in therapy since I was 12, and I had become the dictionary-definition of “plateau”. I felt like I had tried everything under the sun to help my mental health and I was running (teehee, pun intended) out of options.
My first run in August 2020 was 2km, 4 laps around the cottage. I walked half of it, nearly vomited after, and almost gave up entirely. This month – September 2022 – I ran 100 cumulative kilometres. I had my fastest pace yet, participated in my first race, and I just spent $200 on a new pair of running shoes. I’m a runner, I’m a track star.
There are a couple things about this month that I wanted to dive into – what I learned and the race. Let’s start with what I learned.
Last night, I finished my last 3 kilometres in pain, drenched in sweat, with the biggest smile on my face. I probably scared every else at the gym, as I ran like the joker to my imaginary finish line. But I don't really care. I'm proud of myself.
Did this month help my mental health? I guess we’ll never know. If I lived this identical month with no running, how would it have gone? Only the multiverse knows. However, I do know this month was beyond stressful. The pull your hair out, no sleep, have the occasional cry kind of stressful. But I had zero panic attacks. For the past 30 days I have been crushed by work and music and social media and life, this month would have likely leveled me in a past life.
Now let’s talk about the race. You may have remembered at the top, I mentioned I have been in therapy since I was 12 years old. For the last 11 years I have experienced diagnoses, medication, cognitive behavioural therapy, and coping mechanisms of every variety. Over this time, I have been supported by everyone around me but specifically my mom. I am beyond fortunate that my mom worked in health care, and her branch of health care was well embedded with mental health care.
When I was 12, my mom started searching for the best therapist she could find – despite my firm desire to not go to therapy. And after that therapist there was another one, and another one, and one more for good measure. My mom has worked tirelessly to connect me to any mental health service I could have needed, and I am extremely privileged and grateful to have had her as my mom.
On September 17th, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre organised the RBC Race for the Kids. It funded the Family Navigation Project – a program used to connect youth with mental health issues, to the right resources. I remember everyday that not everyone had my mom growing up, someone who knew the system and knew how to get connected. There are no words to describe where I would be if I didn’t have her; I want other people to have the opportunity to get connected to the best services possible.
A couple weeks ago, I ran my first race for a cause I am extremely passionate about and raised just under $1,000 for mental health and the Family Navigation Project. Despite me giving her all the credit already, another wonderful shoutout to my mom (and dad) for contributing.
So yes, my run for mental health and a run for mental health happened to coincide this month and I felt it was worth sharing. If you want to support others’ mental health, you have 2 days lefts to donate to Sunnybrook’s Family Navigation Project.
Thank you to those who donate and also to those who got this far in the post. I hope to get my sneakers strapped on again once my body recovers, until then congratulations to me! The runner, the track star.
From me, with love, to you,
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