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Thu Jan 23, 2020, 05:29 PM

Running and male suicide: "Running almost pushed me over the edge"

When Mark, 26, found out his friend had taken his own life, he turned to running as a coping mechanism.

But it took over - and Mark says he'd "be out running before I even realised I was doing it".

He created it as a safety bubble – then couldn't get out: "I couldn’t figure out any other way of coping with anything."

It was only when he spoke out about his depression that his relationship with running went back to normal.



I had an unhealthy relationship with running starting when I was 17 years old. I couldn't cope with the world so I ran. When I wasn't running I was in the computer lab. Outside of that my life was chaos. Running and computers were the only order in my life. I couldn't sleep so at two or three in the morning I'd get up and run. Then I'd stop by the gym when it opened to shower and change. I had a locker there where I kept most of my clothes. Then I'd go to work, class, or whatever I was doing at the time, get into fights, go to the computer lab, maybe try to sleep sometime.

There were times I was homeless -- living in my car, squatting in empty apartments, sofa surfing. I also lived in someone's garden shed for a time.

Most of my friends were messed up, some of them suicidal, one had already killed himself.

Maybe I was running like some people drink alcohol or do drugs.

This might be a happier story if my "relationship with running went back to normal" when I spoke out about my depression, but that's not how it happened. Instead I was having a terrible fight with my girlfriend and I jumped out of her moving car. That's how we broke up. By some miracle I didn't break any bones or crack open my skull, but for a long time after that it simply hurt too much to run.

Forty years ago I was a hot running mess. It would have been great if my life had somehow suddenly improved after my lowest point, literally bleeding in the gutter, but my progress was incremental.

The second time I was told to take a time out from college (the implied threat once again being permanent expulsion...) I wasn't sure I'd ever go back. I'd found the sort of work that could pay for an apartment and was thinking, "well, this is going to be my life."

But I wan't happy.

Maybe the moment I turned my life around was when I reached out to my former paleontology professor and he invited me along on a field trip. That was wonderful.

Getting readmitted to school was a process, and one of the things required was letters of recommendation. My former professor wrote a nice letter.

My last year of college wasn't smooth sailing, I burned through a few senior thesis advisers, but I did graduate.

At some point I decided to teach. My own middle and high school experience was horrible. Maybe I thought teaching would be like Welcome Back Kotter. It wasn't. Teaching science in an overcrowded, underfunded big city school was the hardest job I've ever had, and the only job I've ever had that was in my head 24/7.

My wife was a science teacher as well. She's a fantastic teacher but one of the things that bothers her is the lack of respect we have for teachers in this society. She was applying to graduate schools when I met her. When she was accepted to a school out of state I happily went with her.

I can easily imagine myself obsessively running when I hit rough patches in my life. The only thing stopping me is that it hurts too much. My hips and knees are worn out.

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Reply Running and male suicide: "Running almost pushed me over the edge" (Original post)
hunter Jan 23 OP
CurtEastPoint Jan 23 #1
Backseat Driver Jan 23 #2
safeinOhio Jan 23 #3

Response to hunter (Original post)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 05:32 PM

1. So timely. I don't know if you watch 'This is Us' but one character Randall is

in deep denial about his depression and anxiety which he CLAIMS he treats by... running. Never considered that before.

The best to you....

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Response to hunter (Original post)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 07:02 PM

2. What are human "coping" mechanisms but limbic manipulations when

there's a a fear or doubt that then leads to psychic or physiologic pain. Are you now feeling more settled and content? Allowing, cognitively, a more healthy activity to be your coping activity - running - released powerful substances not unlike less healthy addictive means of coping, drugs, alcohol, anger. It's why we should be aware and ready to learn a variety of useful skills, physically and mentally. Our brains have plasticity and are so capable of change when we cognitively learn how best to be more flexible in our thinking and activities.

Now you've got physiologic pain that reduces that compulsive need to run, objectively, but I see that imagination might still lead you back to that place. For a while, you'll need to find your passion in something that allows your body its power to heal - for a while, running undoubtedly made your body stronger, and that's a good thing as one ages, but those telomeres get shorter - it's an inevitability! Search and you'll find exactly what you need for your little while -- flexibly, over and over again. I wish you will make good and healthy choices without further addiction or lifetime regrets, those in favor of life itself--our time waits for no one!

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Response to hunter (Original post)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 07:58 PM

3. Didn't start until I was 60.

Ran for 2 years and hurt my knee, so I quit for 7 years. Knee heeled up a started again 2 years ago. 70 years old and now run 3 days a week. Thought it was great when I got up to 3 miles. Now 5 or 6. Feel great and not breaking any records, except my own.

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