A few months ago, in my half marathon clinic at the Running Room, we had a guest speaker come in to talk about his book, “Why I Run”. I bought the book before the talk, and read it. Let me tell you, it was a hard read for me, because I could relate so much to the author, especially with being in a tough emotional place at that time. I was in the pit of “not-good-enough”, and had virtually stopped my self care activities, including painting. I was running, but it had begun to become focused training and no longer as freeing. It was on my “to do” list rather than my “to enjoy” list. I read about the tools the author was using to outsmart his depression, and how he changed his internal dialogue, and turned to running as a positive practice for body, mind and soul. And my gremlins came up, with self doubt and so many questions.
And then, at the clinic, I met Darcy Patrick, the author of this amazing book. He was excited to share his experiences with us in a very real way. Depression is a real thing. And it can be beaten, with a lot of hard work and devotion. Darcy was open to answering any questions we had for him, even the difficult questions. I had so many. I admired his strength and courage. Many of us struggle with depression, and few are willing to admit it, out of fear of judgement or of being a burden to others. For me, I’d rather deal with it myself than bring another person into it, most of the time. But here’s the thing…depression, and shame, don’t like to be talked about. In fact, being open about these feelings actually helps to ease them, and make them lighter. That’s the secret.
After the clinic, Darcy came for our 7km run with us. I was at the back of the pack, not able to keep pace with everyone else, and trying to be fine with it. Most of the time I’m happy with the pace I can achieve. I don’t need to be the fastest, nor do I expect to be. But sometimes, and this particular day, I wished I was a little faster, so that I could be included in the conversations that were going on. But I remembered Darcy’s book, and his visualizations that he practiced, and I started saying mantras to myself…”I am strong, I am capable, I am a runner…etc”. And it worked. I had been using mantras for a while when the runs got hard, but not when I was just down on myself. At one point in the run, Darcy waited for me to catch up, and he ran with me, and we chatted. I find his story so inspiring how he began to run in the first place, and how he continued to run, changing the internal dialogue in his head. It fascinated me that he has that kind of control.
We became friends and chatted from time to time on facebook. One day, seemingly out of the blue, and exactly when I needed it the most, Darcy asked me to paint for him. He was looking for a piece to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of his book, “Why I Run”. Having just read it, I had a tonne of ideas start to flow through my head. I got really excited about this project. I made a couple of sketches and researched images of people running, and started to paint. I got into the zone with this painting, and I loved it! Man, had I missed this feeling. And then, I had a lot of fear…”will he like it? will he regret asking me when he sees it?”…the gremlins were back. But I kept going with it, and I remembered to enjoy the process, because I could always paint something different if this wasn’t what Darcy was looking for. The important thing was, I was painting again in a very true to myself way.
One night, I needed some reassurance, and I got brave and sent Darcy a picture of my work in progress. And he loved it! (Although, honestly, the gremlins still questioned). I was so relieved, I kept painting, and did some more fun stuff for myself. I was returning to self care, and breaking the cycle of depression again, through art.
This past Monday, I delivered this painting to Darcy and his family. We had a very nice visit, and I got to see the artwork he had in his home. I am honoured that he asked me to create for him. It’s such a personal topic, and such a personal painting. And…in case you didn’t read it on Monday, Darcy announced that this painting will be on the cover of his new book that he is working on! I’m so excited I barely have words! I am extremely grateful for Darcy, for his book, and for his encouragement to do what makes me happy. We could all use more happiness in our lives, and trust me, it’s not as far away as we sometimes think.