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Running for Post Natal Depression

Today I have the lovely Druime from Snippets & Spirits sharing her post on running for post natal depression. When I read it for the first time earlier this week, my head was nodding in agreement the whole way though, it could have been me writing this post. Women like Druime are such inspiration, perhaps I should add that as a tip in my recent post on  ‘How I’m Going To Make Myself Run’ – find good role models! 

Do you like running?

No, me neither!
I hate it.
It makes me feel sick. 
My asthmatic lungs detest it. 
It hurts my boobs and my wonky feet. 
There will always be another bus. I do not run for anything. 

I am a walker, me. A fine walker from Ireland. I have walked many a country road and many a peat-filled mucky bog. 
Running has never been my thing.
That was until the day I walked out of my doctor’s office last April.
He had the feeling that my Post Natal Depression was not getting better.
He suggested I go on medication. I told him I would think about it.
I was still trying to deal with the diagnosis. I did not believe I was depressed.
I was just tired.
A friend I will be forever grateful to, proposed I try running.
I could hardly comprehend the idea of me running!
I wasn’t even sure if I could physically run anymore.
You see I am a lazy girl.
My sister tells me if I was any more laid back, I would be horizontal!
However, I needed to do something. I had to try.
I had determination and I had the power to be able to make my own decisions.
To take control of my own health.
So I decided to give this running thing a go.
My friend emailed me a ‘couch to 5K running plan’. I didn’t have any proper shoes and I did not have a sports bra. I felt like a nerdy fraud in my crappy “work-out” gear.
In reality it had been 11 months since I had done anything for myself.
In fact I was not entirely sure if I remembered I was actually a separate human from my two boys. I was fumbling my way through the motions of daily life.
We were just about staying afloat.
However, the day I decided to become a jogger became the day I began to get my life back.
I stepped outside the house and began to feel light as air. I had nothing with me but my phone and my IPOD. I felt so free.
The rhythmical energy of my music would charge me up and lift my heart and feet. My mind would be whisked away to a place of resolution and focus. The beating pulse would allow my feet to pound the pavement and the fast tempo would push me up the hills.
My lungs would struggle to keep up the pace of my feet. However I would push on and breathe through it, knowing that the sense of achievement would be worth it. There was many a hill-top that I reached where I thought I might vomit on but my feet would just keep going. The music would carry me through.
This was exactly what my mind needed. I needed to escape those rambling negative and sometimes intrusive thoughts. Running is perfect for this, as getting up those hills is mind over matter. You must be focused on that very moment. This is what the psychologists teach you. Be present in the moment do not get caught up in the‘what ifs’. When I was in the midst of my depression I thought ‘mindfulness’ was just a load of bullshit, there was no way I could possibly switch my busy mind off.
However, running gave me a sense of peace.
I won’t lie to you though, when you first start out on your run, you think you might die. Then you wonder if you need to do a poo! Your chest hurts, your head hurts.

You think “why am I doing this to myself”. “This is disgusting” “I hate running”
Then you get into a rhythm. When you get your breathing right – inhaling through both your mouth and your nose -exhaling slowly through your mouth and using that breath to propel you. You play mind games with yourself and say “If I can just make it to that next lamp-post” but somehow you keep running past it. If you don’t, it does not matter you can start again. It’s not a race!
At the end of the run you feel amazing. You feel proud, energised and you cannot wait to get out there again. I like running because you can step outside your front door and there is your gym. I did not need to drive anywhere, I just ran around my suburb using a ‘Map my Run’ app to keep track. I went literally from lying on the couch to running 25 minutes or 4.5Km in a matter of weeks. I was hooked.
When you are lugging around a heart of lead and a head of jumbled words and feelings, running becomes therapy.
In my life things began to change for the better. I began running every second day.
I was so dedicated. At the weekends I would be out at 6:30 am, loving the cool morning air before the sun became too hot.  

My motivation began to return. I was able to catch up on stuff I had let go around the house. The piles of laundry were becoming less. I could even leave the house to take the boys for a walk to the shop. Previously this task was too much for me to handle and we would stay at home a lot. 
My partner began to see snippets of the old me return. It is true what they say, exercise can really do so much for you both mentally and physically.

Running became my drug of choice and for a while it seemed like it could work.
Unfortunately I had the added pressure of returning to work when what I really needed was more time. I ended up taking anti-depressants which also helped me tremendously. I must point out at this stage there is absolutely no shame in having to resort to medication. Without it I would most certainly still be stuck in that revolving door.

However all the good professionals will tell you, taking anti-depressants is only part of your recovery. Exercise is also another huge part. An added bonus of exercising for me is, it seems to motivate me to eat well. I am aware of my body needing healthy fuel.

Regardless of whether I ended up taking medication or not, I think I have proven that exercise has a place in the treatment of Post Natal Depression. For some, along with talk therapy, exercise could possibly be the cure. Admittedly for me exercise was not a cure, however for some with borderline or mild depression it has the potential to be.
One piece of advice I must tell you is that from the beginning of your running journey please make sure you have good shoes designed for running.

Unless you are going to be an endurance runner, do not be swayed by marketing to buy those Nike barefoot running shoes. I was told by a podiatrist they are basically like a sock on a sole. 

You need supportive shoes, so visit a reputable sports shop and get fitted professionally. Most shops will allow you to try the shoes on and go for a wee run down the street. While they watch you ensuring the shoes are a good fit for your individual feet.
Also a decent sports bra is absolutely essential!! 
Disclaimer: I have been doing amazing and I cannot believe how much of the true Druimé was lost in the fog without me even realising it.  Now I am feeling myself again. I have since returned to that lazy girl I spoke of at the start of this piece. I am hoping some of you can motivate me to get moving. As I have just has eaten two cheese and chip sandwiches and feel pretty vile.
You can read my Full Post Natal Depression Journey here it is in three parts. 

Go on, go for a run – you know you want to!

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman. Like many women, she's constantly juggling work, family, commitments and life in general, along with a mental illness in the form of bipolar disorder.Eva is also the Founder and Digital Marketing Consultant at Mandala Digital, a Mummy to two little humans, five chickens and Benny the dog, and wife to Mr G. They all live happily (sometimes), mid-renovation (4 years in the making), in their little worker's cottage in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.
Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

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  1. Lucy @ Bake Play Smile
    July 23, 2014 / 1:19 pm

    What lovely, brave women you are sharing your personal stories. It’s amazing what getting out in the fresh air can do isn’t it! Must go for a big walk tonight!!!! Good reminder – thanks!!

  2. July 23, 2014 / 2:13 pm

    Thanks Druime for sharing your story. Sounds so similar to mine!