Divorce, Depression And Running: How I Came Out The Other Side
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By Olivia Claire, Guest Author - January 12, 2016

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Right after my divorce I was depressed. As hard as it may be for me to share, I contemplated suicide. I felt defeated and was in a horrible mindset; at one point I placed all blame on myself because our marriage failed and believed my kids would be better off without me, that no one could possibly love me again, and so on.

These detrimental thoughts consumed my mind and many times I was afraid I could no longer cope with the pain. For those who battle depression, it is a daily struggle. Although I felt like a failure, I knew deep down my children needed their mother to be strong and I couldn't give up for their sake.

Due to the chaos of divorce, moving, and starting completely over, I neglected my own health and I could feel it. The overwhelming stress consumed me; I lost my appetite and was extremely underweight and unhealthy. I felt sluggish, lethargic, lacked focus, and was definitely not myself. I was indeed at my lowest point, and I felt like I was deteriorating at a rapid pace.

I've always been pretty athletic and stayed active throughout my childhood and even as an adult. Physical exercise was a huge part of my life, but after my divorce, life happened, and I stopped exercising altogether. Big mistake. 

A Running/Support Partner:

Once things began to settle down and my children and I got accustomed to our new routine, I forced myself to start running again with a friend of mine, who also happened to be divorced. When my children went to their dad's, I would run. Our weekly runs were therapeutic; she and I ran a slow enough pace where we could talk about anything, from our children to fears of dating again and everything in between. It was nice having someone to talk to who could relate to the struggles and pain caused by a divorce.

Our runs also allowed me to meet new people who share the same passion for running and the outdoors. More people gradually joined our weekly runs, and I also discovered there was another running group in the area who trained for long distance races! This encouraged me to run my very first 10k. Although I had never run that distance, I felt that with the obstacles I had already gone through I was certainly capable of completing 6.2 miles.

Running Leads To Conquering Long-Distance Goals:

I will not forget that day. It was a rainy November morning and slightly cool. As I ran, the rain dripped from my cap and my feet were soaked, but I kept pushing forward. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this and that I was not a failure. After a couple of miles in, the rain ceased and the sun began to shine. The course was not easy; two miles consisted of a gradual incline up a mountain. I had already told myself walking was not an option, so I made my way uphill. Once I reached the top, I knew I had accomplished a challenging feat. It felt amazing on the way downhill, and my feet hit the pavement with a little more confidence. 

The end was in sight, I was running out of steam, but I knew I had to keep pushing. "Almost there, come on, you can do it!" Crowds of people lined both sides of the street and cheered for everyone who ran past. The last 100 yards seemed ongoing but I finally made it. Crossing that finish line was exhilarating, and I felt like I could do anything. "I did it, my first 10k! Wow!" My confidence had resurfaced, and I began to finally feel like myself again. All the feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt were void; I knew things were going to be ok.

Exercise is so amazing for the mind and the body, especially if you are going through a challenging situation, such as a divorce. You don't have to be in great shape to begin an exercise routine. I recommend that if you are just starting out, go for a walk or a swim, or join a gym with a friend. Any kind of physical activity is effective and I guarantee you will feel amazing after.

Stronger, Happier, Healthier:

I honestly believe that if I hadn't started running again and gotten involved with a running group, my depression would have consumed me and I believe I would have ultimately given up. I am so thankful for my family and the new friends I have made who helped me get through my lowest point. I am much stronger, happier, and healthier.

I am now running my very first half marathon New Year's Day, something I never thought I would strive to accomplish.

Here's to a brand new start and new beginning for the new year! If I can do it, so can you!

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