Spocial Revolution: Running keeps me sane, that is why I run.

“After night of sleeping between sobs, I would drag myself to the Wednesday work out or a Saturday long run and come back grinning”


“After night of sleeping between sobs, I would drag myself to the Wednesday work out or a Saturday long run and come back grinning”

Pic: UrbaneWomenMag / Flickr CC

Ten years ago, two incidents changed the way I felt about myself. First one was on my job. I was to meet someone on a very routine matter. But when I got to that person’s office, I felt a fear I had never felt before; I felt paralysed and couldn’t even bring myself to walk the ten steps to that person’s office. The person I was to meet wasn’t someone I should have feared. In fact I did not even know if it was a male or female. But there I was, rooted to the ground, unable to move. I called my boss, made up some lame excuse about having a headache and ran home. Needless to say, my boss was upset about me not executing the simple job she expected of me.

The second incident happened a few weeks later. I was in my house, alone, after dinner, unable to sleep. Insomnia was a norm by then. I had this uncontrollable urge to weep, I didn’t stop crying for two straight hours and I had no idea as to what triggered it off. At the end of two hours, I started shivering from head to toe, my hands were ice cold, my teeth chattered. I couldn’t breathe, I ran to the balcony to get some air, it was almost 2 AM with no one around. I still couldn’t breathe. I thought I would die, and no one would know why or how. I guess I passed out, because I don’t remember anything after that.

In the coming weeks these two incidents became the norm. The paralysing fear that would grip me in the middle of the day, that would make it impossible for me to do the simplest of tasks and the uncontrollable sobs and inability to breath, later when I was alone. The crying episodes (as I started to call them) were becoming so frequent and so tiring that I couldn’t wake up in the morning to go to work. I stopped meeting friends, I avoided all social interactions, lest I start having these inexplicable situations.

The coveted job, that I was so proud of landing, became a nightmare. I had to quit the job and run home. I told a few people about what was happening. I was told, it was stress, now that I was home, it shall pass. It didn’t. A year after the first incident, I decided I should get help.

I went to a psychiatrist, who made light of my situation saying it was just ‘panic attacks’ and that I could simply get over it with medicines. His medicines made me sleep for 20 hours a day. My already asocial calendar got worse, upsetting family members. They thought I was not making an attempt to “snap out of it.” Six months later, I decided to stop the medication, my situation got worse, I started thinking about killing myself.

Then we met another doctor. He said I could be suffering from mild depression and that it could be made worse by imbalance of the hormone, serotonin; this is the hormone that keeps one happy and I had a malfunction right there! More medicines. Now I slept for 15 hours instead of 20. I did feel slightly better than I had in years. But the panic attacks had now progressed to four a day making it impossible for me to even step out of my room, let alone have a life. This started affecting my cognitive abilities, I would get confused about the easiest of tasks, both my short term memory and long term memory were affected. In short, I was a train wreck.

By then it was four years since the first episode. A friend suggested counselling; I was ready to try anything. Six months later, my panic attack episodes had come down to one a month and I was off any sort of medication. The counselling provided me with tools to identify situations that trigger panic attacks and find ways of managing it. Special attention to diet helped with my serotonin imbalance.

Although my cognitive abilities were not fully restored, I was feeling confident of facing the world. For two years after that I felt great, with just 3 “episodes” in that period. I got bold, I started a family, took up a job, met friends again and even made new friends. That is when I took up running with Runner’s High.

It might seem like long winded introduction as to why I run, but it is necessary to understand where I come from and why running matters to me. I was not a great runner – I dawdled along, but I liked it. At the same time my old problems came back to haunt me. In the middle of the working day, that same old fear would grip me, paralyse me. I would hold my child and cry inconsolably for no apparent reason. I quit my job again, shied away from friends and family, deciding that may be I cannot really have a ‘normal’ life. But I held on to running. I couldn’t explain why.

I went back to counseling. That is where I discovered that running made me happy. After night of sleeping between sobs, I would drag myself to the Wednesday work out or a Saturday long run and come back grinning. Some days, I would be gripped in such fear that I couldn’t even bring myself to get out of bed and get to the run location. But the runners’ carpool would be waiting and I would somehow drag myself out.

I worried about having a panic attack while running, I came close to it several times, but thankfully nothing major happened. I was worried that people wouldn’t understand panic attacks. After all, a few times, I have been taken to the hospital in this state, where the doctors themselves assumed that I was having a heart attack, or worse, that I had ingested some poison to kill myself! Yes, panic attacks are akin to these two situations.

I still struggle with depression, anxiety syndrome. My memory is only slightly better than a goldfish, I still cannot drive confidently and I am not sure if I can hold on to a job. But running keeps me sane – that is why I run.

The author chose to remain anonymous for this piece.

This story is a part of the Spocial Revolution series, a collaboration with SportsKeeda featuring stories of sports as an instrument towards social change and voices from the community on sports as a choice in sustainability.

Have a story of how sports changed your life or someone else’s? Write to contribute@thealternative.in 


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