Depression and drinking to runners high


Yesterday I was sorting through some old photos and I came across one taken of my then family of five when my middle son was only a few weeks old. I was in a bad way with post natal depression and after he was born was the first time I sought psychiatric help for it.

Although terrifying at the time it was a relief to know that my confusion and feelings of emptiness following the births of my two eldest children wasn’t because I was an awful person, but because I’d had post natal depression.

I posted the photo on my blog’s Facebook page and next to it I put a photo of me with those same sons last week and I never imagined it would get the response it did.





One of my great friends in London works for the BBC and is in the public eye. She was one of my first friends in London and was my inspiration to start running. In fact she took me to my first ParkRun and planted the racing seed which eventuated in us also starting the London Marathon together (except she finished about an hour before me!). Anyway she shared my photo on her own Facebook page and it was then shared by a couple of other high profile British personalities and went from there.

I am just an ordinary Mum. An ordinary person, just like 99% of the population. One day I decided that I’d had enough of feeling like crap. That I was done with trying to control my feelings with drinking wine, that I couldn’t live like that any longer.

It was born from desperation if you like.

So with help from a therapist (more than one actually) I stopped drinking three years ago. That very day I decided I’d had enough, I haven’t had a drop since.

Not so surprisingly my depression started to slowly lift. Although I first showed signs of anxiety at the age of six and have suffered panic attacks and had many battles with periods of depression – drinking was making it so, so, so much worse. But I was trapped in a cycle that I couldn’t break and although I was functioning normally with four kids (I use that term very loosely), I was drinking more and more to cope until I just couldn’t do it anymore.

That is my story with drinking in a nutshell.

Once I stopped drinking I started to lose weight and then I used an app to track my calories and the weight was falling off. Keep in mind I had not long beforehand had my fourth child so I had a lot of baby weight to lose. Four children worth of pregnancy weight to be precise.

How I started running I have written about before so I won’t repeat it again but you can read about it all through my blog.

The initial reason I started walking and then running was my weight. The end. However once I had run my first ParkRun that day, what motivated me changed. It was no longer about controlling or losing weight, it was the runners high I was after. The feeling of freedom I had when I was running. It made me feel worthy. The fact that I continued to lose weight was the added bonus.

I often refer to my running as a gift. Not because I am fast or amazing at it, because I’m really not. But because the majority of people who want to be runners fail at it. That for some reason I stuck with it was one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Running gave me back my confidence, it gave me something for me that didn’t involve my children, my husband, or anyone else. It keeps me sane, it keeps me thinking rationally and whenever I am feeling resentful or anxious or stressed, a run is a guaranteed way of making me feel much better. To this day I have never returned from a run thinking ‘well that was crap, I feel worse now’.

In two years I went from running 100m maximum without feeling like I wanted to die, to finishing the London Marathon in 4h 27m. I didn’t do anything special, I just stuck to my plan, kept running and never gave up.

So for the past two days, to have had so much interest in my story is extremely humbling. Although I have had my story in the media before, it’s the private messages I get from other every day people like me that touch me the most. Yesterday I had about thirty of them.

It’s the desperate stories from other people who are in that trap of drinking to soothe their depression, from the Mums who are desperate to lose weight and don’t want to leave their house because they have no confidence, from people who want to learn how to run but don’t know how to start. THEY are who resonate with me.

So thank you to everyone who reads my blog and who follows my mostly crazy Facebook page and to each and every person who has emailed me privately and in confidence and opened up their secrets to me. You are all worthy and you can all make changes to your life like I did if you are willing to make changes.

My favourite mantra ever … Change does not happen without change.

Keep running



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