Let me explain as this is the best way I see depression from my experiences on a daily basis.
There is a massive storm behind me all the time, it never leaves, ever. The type of storm that if you get caught in it, will consume you, injure you and you will die once you have fallen into a deep hole and it traps you there. The trick is to outrun it, both physically and figuratively. Don’t let it get close to you. Keep it at bay. Run, run and run some more.
For my trail and ultra-running friends or those who do their share of hiking will hopefully relate to this: Picture yourself, going out on a remote mountain run or an adventure. You never told anybody you’re going because they thought it wasn’t doable, they chuckled at you in doubt when you brought it up and your wife or husband said no its too dangerous. So you’ve gone anyway, you told nobody and will tell them once you did it and share your Suunto Moves Count on social media as proof.
You’re up near the summit after hours of sustained effort, on a ridge that’s pretty dangerous. The weather is moving in, you didn’t take your required safety gear (jacket, extra nutrition, space blanket, gloves, head scarf or toque) you didn’t even take your cell phone. The weather is rolling in, there’s nobody else out there and no way of letting somebody know where you are. The storm that’s approaching is nasty, it frightens the crap out of you because you know its going to be massive.
Decision time: do you try get down the mountain? But the weather will beat me up as I’m trying to move, what about the thunder and lightning? I could get struck and electrocuted. Well I could stay put and ride it out? No you dumb-ass, you can’t do that you’ll be struck by lightning after being beaten by the rain and ice and then blow off the ledge, falling to your death. If I do ride it out I could get hypothermia and possibly die before anybody finds me.
Man, I wish I brought my phone to let people know I’m stranded up here, man I wish I brought my safety gear to ride it out…
Then, the wind heaves and ho’s and picks up, it changes direction, the storm starts to move the other way, Ok, I’ve taken a beating but let’s try get down here before its gets worse again because I have to keep moving and get somewhere safe or even come across another runner or hiker, small chance but I’m going to try.
Oh no, I have no water and no food, I’m shivering. It’s fine, let me get back to the van where I can get warm and make a call home to feel better and get some coffee at the nearest town. Car key, check…. wait, it’s gone! What? I must have dropped it!
And now what do I do? How do I get home at all? Panic is setting in, your mind starts to think and imagine the worst case scenario.
Then, in this area where you know you won’t see many people if any at all and you haven’t seen a single soul for the entire day, another runner or hiker appears just as happy to see you as you are they.
They have a cell phone, food, water and spare jacket. They offer you a ride home and you hit it off forever due to that bond you shared and the understanding you had after surviving a potentially fatal experience. Even though that person also experienced adversity in that weather but was not as exposed as you or in as big a predicament as you were, you found comfort, relief and even the physical help of their warmer gear, food and water. Making the decision to keep moving while the storm is away and ensuring it doesn’t catch you again in your effort to get help, hoping for another runner or hiker is an analogy for you allowing yourself to be helped, reaching out in the chance that somebody can help, listen and just show compassion for what you’re going through as a depression sufferer.
Depression is that storm, it rolls in and there is nothing you can do. You can’t change it, you can prepare for it, and sometimes you miss it because you didn’t go out that day or slept in a bit longer and left later. It will inevitably reach you in some way or the other. You can prepare for it, you can go with a buddy, who you can lean on, take extra gear and ride it out together and survive to fight another day. There is also the experience you took away from that. How to deal with it next time, how best to prepare and fine-tune those skills.
Gavin will be hosting the Beard Run Wednesday, May 3rd at Fort Calgary. The run begins at 6:00 pm and the doors open at 7:00 pm for a film screening and panel discussion. For more information or you would like to register, visit their Facebook page or website.
Read Gavin’s full blog on his Blogspot.