Friday, January 20, 2006

The love of my life............

In working with the public and being someone who is around people a lot; I've found through conversation and consolation, that most relationships - whether it's a boyfriend-girlfriend union, or that of a marriage - have failed because it's not a 50/50 give and take.

Yes there are times when maybe it's 60/40; 70/30 and MAYBE even 80/20. However what it all comes down to, is the fact that if both parties are not genuinely giving to the respective relationship - it isn't going to last.

However, this 50/50 give and take is not exclusive to "human" relationships - and I've found that out through my "relationship" with running (and exercise).

Once I started overcoming depression - the anti-depressant and talk-therapy, as well as the awesome support from family and friends bringing me back to that 'stability' and overall 'balance' that I seeked, I read that exercise released nature's own SSRI's; which are otherwise known as " Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors" (and you can see why we call them "SSRI's").

SSRI's are today the most frequently prescibed anti-depressants. Additional information can be read about what SSRI's are http://counsellingresource.com/medications/medication-types/ssri.html . Regardless, when you exercise, SSRI's are released into your body; and in a very plain explanation - that's where "runner's high" and that "confidence" that you feel following any sort of exercise comes from. In all seriousness, following a good run or workout; any attractive women in the room - beware - you just may get asked out.

Regardless, throughout the spring, summer and fall of 2005, the seratonin was at an all-time high for me. It was at an all-time supply; was free whenever I wanted it, healthy; and it legally made me feel priceless! And no side-effects to mention..............not one! All I had to do to "get it" was put on my shorts, a t-shirt and my running shoes. No dealing, nothing illegal at all. And best of all, it was FREE! Just a small investment of time and moving the legs was needed to acquire it.

The seratonin and "runner's high" was at an all-time high leading up to the Steamtown Marathon in October of 2005. Things were amazing; my overall demeanor, just an overall positive nature - EVERYTHING. My perspective on life and things that happened to me was excellent.

Soon after Steamtown, I took a week off from running - and trust me, if you haven't run a marathon - you need probably at least that much time off overall to get a small percentage of that vital recovery that is necessary to get your body "back to normal."

The only problem with the recovery; is the seratonin that you get so used to, is not there. Well it is; but not nearly at the level that it once was. So as a result by Tuesday the week after the race (two days following Steamtown), I knew that I needed to "do something" to get that rush - so I walked. Not everyday, but at least two-three times the week following the marathon, I took my beaten, battered and bruisd legs - not to mention tired - did I mention tired??? legs and went for short 1-2 mile walks. The feeling, although not a huge rush, would come back.

Leading into the Philadelphia Marathon, which took place six week following Steamtown; I tended to run less and rest more. Ask any distance-runner; heck ask any athletic trainer worth their marbles, and they'll tell you that it will take your legs a long while to come to a 100% recovery. Thing is, I had six weeks and hell or highwater, I was running Philly.

Philadelphia was the first publically visible marathon that I ran for the cause of mental health awareness/to remove the stigma of mental illness. Steamtown I also ran for the cause, but because of the short time between getting the press release out and actually running the marathon, no media attention was given the cause (in Steamtown).

Regardless, when you're getting ready to tell the world about an illness that some people in today's society erroneously believe is not real, things can get a bit antsy. Sometimes the stigma that exists with mental illness can get you feeling embarrassed. Well, it did me at times, but the benefit or blessing, was the knowledge that I was doing this for the greater good.

When I was suffering from depression, but not knowing that how I felt had a name, I pleaded with God to either "take me or make me feel better." I didn't care which. I knew that if He took me, my time on earth was up, and that the pain and anguish that I was feeling at the time, I would be relieved of. If He made me get better (which I am thankful that He did), I knew that He had a higher plan for me. Sometime better, bigger and more amazing than before I was depressed. And I honestly can say that running for the cause of mental health awareness and helping to remove the stigma behind mental illness - I feel in my heart of hearts - that it is that cause that now is my passion.

It's funny, because now I talk about my depression like I would talk about today's weather. It's something that you can't escape, and something that is a part of me. If I'm going to run to remove the stigma, I have to constantly talk about it - thus helping to remove the stigma. Maybe people who are "on the fence" about if mental illness is real, will talk to me and see how I felt and hopefully come to a better understanding that they are real!

However, I have seen that the more that I put into running and exercise in general; the better that I feel. When I do't exercise, I feel like a part of me is gone - like I'm not complete. Sound overly romantic? Well, it's true. Put away the roses though; save that money for t-shirts, shorts and a good pair of running shoes.

And that's the simple beauty of running and having a legitimate "relationship" with her. Want to give her respect; then invest 100% into your relationship. She will show you that same 100% respect with the way that she makes you feel after you are with her - priceless. It's not what she says, but what she does to you. That natural feeling of "runner's high," that confidence, that feeling that you can accomplish ANYTHING, that's what she gives you. And what does she expect from you in return....respect. A respect that only a constant effort can show her.

Yes, I have found that love, that love of a lifetime - and the funny thing is, I dont' have to take her to dinner, don't have to buy her roses, nothing. She gives me the love that I need, as long as I continuously give and prove to her mine.

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