I sit on my bed thinking about going out for a run. Nothing extremely challenging for myself. Just a 45-60 minute workout which I routinely do several times a week. But now I sit immobilized. A huge weight seemingly holds my body down. I imagine getting outside, but am unable to change into my running gear and get going. It’s not a lack of motivation or laziness. I don’t suffer from any physical illness that would prevent me from running. I suffer from depression and anxiety. The last few days it has reared its ugly head and now drains away at my motivation and passion for not just running but for life itself. Even though I know getting out there for a short bout of exercise would benefit me I just can’t will myself to do it. That’s the challenge with these type of illnesses. It can disable an individual to the point of being unable to help oneself. From the outside most people can not even tell an individual is waging an unseen war within. Even friends and loved ones who are aware of ones illness can often times not appreciate or understand just how hard the battle is. This is why I have begun to share my own personal stories and experiences. To help better educate others who are unaffected and to also give hope to those fighting the disease like me. For it is a disease which one needs to attack from different fronts and on this day I reach out to someone I love and who cares about me. I text a brief message and she offers me words of encouragement. I read the response but remain where I am. She writes some more. Then more. Finally it gives me the last push I need to start moving again. It’s not as easy as it may sound reading this, but sometimes that’s all one needs to get over that hump. Sometimes it’s a hug. Sometimes a shoulder to lean on or an attentive ear that will listen. Sometimes just being there so one doesn’t feel alone. Some days nothing seems to help. But today her words of encouragement are enough. Enough to get me out on the road to running and wellness again.
As I begin running the trail quickly begins to slope upwards. My footsteps are silent as I travel the forest path beneath the canopy of trees. Within minutes my heart is racing from the effort. In the first mile I gain 453 feet in elevation but this is just the beginning. The trail dips and I run hard, but in control as my pace speeds up and slows as the terrain dictates. The forest gives way to allow glimpses of some of the surrounding mountains which fills me with joy. My pace quickens eager with anticipation. After several miles the forest thins out to give me full view of my destination. The mountains’ jagged peaks lift skyward, sharp, jagged edges in the blue sky.
The trail once again turns back into the forest and again goes upwards. Ever upwards. I drink greedily as I try to quench my parched mouth and brush the dripping sweat away from eyes and face. I don’t have to go this fast but the effort seems right for a place like this. Being in special places in the natural world should come with effort and pain. Helps me appreciate the astounding beauty all the more. The hard effort also helps dissipate my own inner pain. With every step, every mile ,every foot of elevation gain my spirit is lifted higher and higher and the healing within intensifies. The trail is open now as the trees fall away. Still it rises even steeper now and I slow to a fast hike.
Bent over I lean into the hill with hands on my thighs. I feel them burn with fatigue as I try to keep up the pace. After some six miles I reach my destination. My effort rewards me with a cathedral created by nature. As the setting sun shines its light down between those jagged peaks and spires I hear the sound of the ice cold mountain lake lapping against the rocky shore.
This soothes me and my heart beats in rhythm with the water. Calm and slow now I walk along the shoreline. I find a rock and sit to try and take it all in. I can feel the wind bite my face and the mountain casts its shadow across the landscape. I am just a fleeting visitor here. As I leave I turn for one last look, one last listen to the stillness of this mountain scene.
I draw in one more breath from this rejuvenating place before heading back down the trail. I let gravity pull me. Down the steep trail letting go of fears and inhibitions. I feel like myself again as I gain more and more speed. I let the terrain dictate my pace and feel at peace once again.