by Marjan Ashrafi
My depression and anxiety started back in 2004, when I lost my only sibling. My young and beautiful sister died in an accident. After her death, I began to notice myself worrying and overthinking everything. Crying became a daily part of living. I didn’t have any motivation for anything. I felt my medication wasn’t helping enough. I hated myself and my life.
One afternoon, I decided to go for a walk in the trails. After 15 minutes of walking, I started to run. It was horrible. I couldn’t breathe. I panicked, cried, and went back home. The next day, I went back again to give it another go. I ran for about 10 minutes. I had tears afterwards, but I was determined not to let this beat me. I felt something great inside, so I pushed myself to run every day. Every time, it got easier and more enjoyable.
I decided to stop my medication. I put my foot down with my doctor and said “no” to any further prescriptions. I had found my natural medication: running.
It became a daily routine for me to run three to five kilometres every morning. I also joined a gym for another workout to help with my running. In 2011, I signed up for the Vancouver Sun Run 10K. Six months later, I signed up for three half marathon trail races in Bellingham. I ran the Deception Pass half marathon, the Stewart Mountain half marathon and the Birch Bay half marathon. In 2013, I took on my biggest challenge by pushing my limits to run the Bellingham Bay full marathon.
I kept registering for races, one after another. The more I ran, the more I loved myself—not because I was perfect, but because every mile I ran proved that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible. The endorphins, the sense of accomplishment, the feeling of my heart pounding inside my chest—they all remind me that I am alive with an amazing body that allows me to accomplish incredible things
I am 47 now, and I have completed 50 half marathons, two full marathons and many shorter distance trail series like 5 Peaks. I run four times a week, between 100 and 150 kilometres a month. Running has taken me on an amazing journey. It has completely changed my life. In fact, it saved my life.