“Try doing yoga!”
“Think positive thoughts!”
“Go out and get some fresh air!”
Above is advice that has been given to me by many people after disclosing that I live with depression. And it is infuriating. If escaping depression were that simple, I would not have acquired it in the first place.
I become so frustrated with this advice because in the months leading up to the onset of my depression I was very active. I had completed a full marathon, a half marathon, as well as a 30 day hot yoga challenge 6 months prior. This is in addition to working and going to school full time. I was incredibly active and in good shape. Those who know me well know my love for running was borderline obsessive. Every morning I woke up planning my day around my run to ensure I could increase my distance or improve my time. Love was an understatement. Then, it just stopped. Running stopped being enjoyable. It stopped being fun. I dreaded going. Short runs lasted forever, and my pace died.
Have you ever forced yourself to do something you don’t like? Forcing myself to run for leisure and fun is like trying to happily clean out my cat litter box. It’s shitty. Having other (likely well meaning people) advise me to “just exercise” to feel better is even shittier. It’s not that I don’t want to exercise. Running, biking, and being active in general were activities that I loved. It breaks my heart to not receive joy from these pastimes as it is. Advice like “do yoga” is simply invalidating.
Don’t get me wrong – regular exercise is important. I appreciate the people in my life that encourage me to continue to be active. However, exercise alone is not always enough. Hearing this advice from other people is also frustrating because I want to love running again. I want to have that joy back, but it’s just not there.
If you have a person in your life experiencing some mental health troubles, I feel the best thing you can do is hear them out. Listen to them and validate their feelings. Encourage them to do positive things for themselves. All in all, just be there for them.
I used to try to force myself to love running, however it became a vicious cycle of frustration. Lately, I’ve been trying other activities to bring the joy back in addition to running. I’m trying to look on the bright side of things. Instead of forcing myself to love running again, I’m taking this as an opportunity to explore other activities I might like. As it turns out I really enjoy adult coloring books. I have also been spending more time reading for leisure. For me, trying other things has been helpful. Hopefully, somewhere along the way I start to love running again the way I used to.
About Cassie S
25 year old psychiatric nursing student. I live with depression off and on and have since I was 12. Learning to ride the waves as they come. I'm an introvert who enjoys reading, art, and spending time with friends and family. I also really enjoy being active: running, biking, hot yoga, dodge ball and slo-pitch are a few favourites.