I could not tell you the exact moment, event or even potential series of events that led to the extreme shifts in my mood. I can only tell you that there was a time in my life that I spent many a day and night contemplating death. It went on for years. I was unreliable, sad all the time, and absolutely without any energy. It had been too many days, weeks, months and years of the same thing that I had lost any hope that I would ever wake up feeling any better. Not being here seemed like the best option. As a result, I ended up hospitalized after a deliberate overdose, at age 27. To say that the whole incident was completely terrifying would be an understatement. I was lower than low.
Desiree at the 2018 Maritime Race Weekend in Nova Scotia where she ran the half marathon.
I would love to say that after this event, or a number of awful events after that, that I changed my life. That I chose this moment to turn my life around, as seen in a triumphant montage. But, that would be untrue. That is not how mental health operates. After this event, I now had scary labels and diagnoses and was terrified of the stigmas that came with them. On top of everything, I was supposed to be the one who had all the answers and is a “picture of health.” I had two university degrees and was a published researcher and a full-time Psychotherapist. There was nothing that could protect me from having a mental health condition. I was as vulnerable as anyone else. Sadly, having the background I had meant that there was nothing I was hearing that I had not heard out of my own mouth. In the next few years, I lost my job and my home. My relationship completely fell apart and became toxic.
It took surrounding myself with family and removing myself from everything that was not helping. This started to slowly shift things. I created a routine and started to stick to it. It was a good start. Structure and routine were keeping me fighting and surviving. I stopped seeing my mental health as a death sentence but rather a life sentence with the operative word being life. I was learning to truly live and have a mental health condition.
At the beginning of 2017, I was doing well but I felt I needed something else that would help me with my mental health and support me in my goal to live. My husband and I decided to quit smoking. To help make this happen, I decided to join a Running Room Learn to Run training program in Brampton. I decided that I would see the clinic through and complete its goal of a 5K race. I never missed any of the sessions and I trained hard every week. At first, I struggled a great deal. Even running for two minutes was a challenge. I refused to give up as I knew that unequivocally, I had “it” in me to be able to do this. Deep down, “it” was in there.
I signed up for my first 5K race and decided that I would fundraise as part of my completing the program and the race. Slowly and surely, I began to appreciate the benefits of running. After I completed my first race, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of pride. I will never forget the hug my husband gave me at the finish line. I knew that as of this moment, I had found “it” in me. I continued to fundraise as part of my racing and to date I have completed 23 races, two of which have been half marathons. I have raised over $4000.00 for a variety of worthy causes.
My goal for this year is to complete my first full marathon. To support me in achieving this goal, I signed up once again for the Running Room full marathon training program. I know that with their structure, encouragement and guidance, coupled with my resilience, I can achieve this and hopefully inspire others to lace up and do the same. A mental health diagnosis is only one part of you. You can be so much more than that label. Today, I am a different person. I combine strength training, running and yoga to my exercise routine on a weekly basis. I feel energized and able to cope every day despite the mental health condition. I would like to thank the Running Room for offering me such a gift. Running has changed my life.