Sunday, October 29, 2017

Slachtemarathon & The Marathon Motivation

Photo courtesy
of my friend

“Sometimes you've got to go through hell to get to heaven.” 

Breaking 6* in Slachtemarathon

Yes, I plan to run the Slachtemarathon in it's next edition (2020).

Here it is. A goal. 

Sharing for all to know.  

A scary moment.

A liberating moment.

Smiling through a painful moment...
Shortly before this picture was taken,
I decided not to continue the 42 km goal but step out at 21 km.

I waited for the first time at the finish line of a shared race for my friend to finish.

Life Before Running

Most of you, who have been following me from the beginning, know I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003.   

Before my diagnosis, I  silently went through cycles of depression.  Decades.  The shame of what I was going through again and again, paralysed and silenced me. 

It began when I was a child.  I did not know of course what it was, then. I simply thought I was a very sensitive person.  There was a point in my puberty, when I contemplated studying Psychology to help myself and not have to tell anyone, the emotional & mental torture I went through.

I did not tell my family and friends, how it was affecting the quality of my life because I did not want to be judged, nor be seen as weak and helpless.  

Everything changed, when I became a mother of two, living in a foreign country.  Being silent about my situation was no longer an option.  I was no longer responsible for myself alone.

Sharing my situation to the people I love, and seeking professional help were the first brave small steps to a long, and still ongoing journey.

Marathon = Motivation

Miraculously along this journey, I found  running.   

Specifically, I discovered how the discipline marathon training demand, was something very powerful, which helps me overcome the symptoms of my disorder.

My beloved P, always there for me.

After finishing Berlin Marathon for the second time, I promised myself, that  I will try harder to be even more transparent about my running, the training process and most importantly, why running is so important to me,  and my mental health.

My blog readers, my social media followers : family, friends -  running friends - very loyal and long time supporters have helped boost my confidence and strengthened my resolve to be more courageous in sharing.  Sharing about mental health issues.

Completing the Berlin Marathon project was a 4 year process.  In hindsight, it did not begin in the last week of  January, 2017 but it began right after I finished Paris Marathon 2013.  The year a "simple injury" not only affected me physically but a great deal of my mental capacity to run.

I did not give up. I did not let depression, mental blocks, anxiety attacks take away the joy and hope I discovered marathon running and all it compasses gave me.

Depression can negatively affect and change your life completely.  

It is up to you, if you will let  the mental disorder you are diagnosed with take over or you fight with everything you got to regain your life.

You Are Not Alone

The past few days have been a roller coaster of emotions.  Life and personal crisis.

Even though I try to rein in racing thoughts, and overreaction to stressful situations with the help of running and meditation, I was still revisited by old demons: anxiety, self-doubt and panic attack.

I will lie if I tell you, I am able to brush them off easily now, after decades of trying to learn how to deal with them.

The process remains a challenge.  Dealing with one's mental health remains a continuous learning process.

A major difference in my process compared to 25 years ago: I no longer feel completely alone.

Correct thatI no longer allow the disorder to convince me I am alone.

I know, there are many, countless people I can turn to, who are there to help (professionally), who supports and believes in me (my friends and family),  who will be there for me no matter what (my mom, my stepfather, my brothers, my partner, and our kids).

The only thing I have to do is reach out.

Slachtemarathon 2020

Slachtemarathon 2016 became a symbol of hope and love for me.  I was afraid to participate but I did it anyway. I was afraid that even if I work hard, I would not be good enough.  I did not reach the ultimate goal of finishing the 42.195 km distance.  I made it half-way.  I did not finish my fourth full marathon in Summer of 2016.

What I was able to accomplish, when I went to the start after months of preparation, was face my fear(s) and live to conquer the next and the next.  What Slachtemarathon 2016 gave me was the fighting spirit to finish my fourth full marathon in Summer of 2017.

I am dedicating the project of Slachtemarathon 2020 to a wonderful generous friend, a runner I utterly respect and highly admire: this is for you, M.  I will conquer my mental blocks, and face a great personal challenge (committing to a long-term goal!)  with you in mind! :)

You believed in me. You made me believe in me. 

Thank you for believing in me.  Thank you for Slachtemarathon 2016 (I will never forget all your generous help & unwavering support!)!  Thank you for being a good friend.