My Story Of Bulimia/Depression Through My Final 12 Hour Run

My final big training run. It had arrived. I had my gear, thanks to Sportchek and New Balance, and I had a positive attitude.

On August 13th I awoke early morning to begin a 12 hour running day which would be my final MAJOR training prior to tapering before Virginia Vs Bruce. I waited for this day – knowing that if I can just get through the training then I have a good chance of conquering the Bruce. The work I put in leading up to this day was calculated, blister filled, taxing, unbelievably uplifting while at the same time filled with downs, occasionally racked with feelings of self doubt and a fear of failure.

Fear of failure – I now know this is NEVER a good enough reason to not do something. I believe it is worse to not try something due to that fear, then to fail after actually trying. Fear of failure always rears its ugly head, but knowing it will come and having the right things in place to push that thought aside is key. It is essential to let yourself remember “fear of failure” type thoughts are not worthy enough to entertain. Most of the time they are coupled with the idea that other people will know we failed.  What will the say? Again, a thought that needs to be acknowledged, but not entertained.

This journey towards my end goal reminded me of the journey I took as I worked hard to recover from Bulimia and Depression. In order to express this journey, I will read excerpts from a 12 page blurb via the video link below that I wrote the day I left the clinic, ready to being my life again. I wrote these words down so that I would never FORGET what I accomplished or where I came from. I needed to remember the pain and the joy, the dull moments and the break throughs. I also needed to ensure that I did not change the real story – or hide the embarrassing thoughts, actions or emotions I felt. To be true to myself, I had to acknowledge and accept. To do this, I needed to write it down. Years later, these words are on the same paper I wrote on that day – nothing changed. I will read some of them to you. Please click the link below to hear the excerpt.

LINK TO VIDEO

I began my run at 5:20 am and was lucky enough to have Andrea LaMantia, a Boston Marathon qualifier, at my side. As well,  the gear Sportchek supplied me with started me off on the right foot. Blister cream, fuel, sneakers, moisture resistant clothing, a garmin to track my route and a good head lamp to show the way are just but some of the gear they supplied that was a must to make this day successful. I have to say, it feels pretty amazing to have someone believe that much in you! Again, thank you Sportchek.

The first hours are always the best as my body is ready to go! Andrea slowed her normal pace, to accommodate mine for this run. Always humble, she never lets on that she is barely sweating! However, an hour into the run I happen to run over a wasp nest and was stung 6 times. I screamed and flung my arms around, totally out of control. I ripped off my pants while Andrea swats and tries to figure out what is wrong. I have known her for about a month, so after bearing my butt I believe we are now “fast friends”. Those wasps were sneaky, quick and deliberate. Bulimia and Depression hit me in a similar way. I was so deep in and filled with pain without realizing how I managed to get there. During a binge/purge cycle, my mind was racing and I felt so out of control. I knew it hurt, I knew it felt bad and I believed I was all alone. I could not figure out what was wrong with me and why I continually felt lost in this vicious binge/purge cycle.

As I continued along the way, I was fearful in ever step. There must be more nests. Somewhere. Terrified. I was hesitant on each move, thinking each step would bring on another swarm of wasps. Again this is similar to my bulimia and depression. You begin to second guess yourself. Wondering if the move you are making is correct and thinking to far ahead in the future. Food. Wasps. There is a connection. For the next hour – that is what i thought about with every step. In my Bulimia, food was my every thought, my ever concern. It overpowered me and distorted what was important. I finally shook off the wasps – they were not important and would not ruin my run. If only my struggle with food was as easy. Not the case.

As the hours ticked away, I was joined by more people for support. Brenda East, who was also with me on my 3 day adventure, joined me early in the day. As Brenda 1always, she showed up with a smile, encouraging words and knew how to set the proper pace to sustain me for the entire day. She did not have to come. Yet she did. She found a way to fit me in her busy schedule because she knew it mattered. It is people like her that make the time for others when they know it is needed. As a runner herself ,she knows all too well the power of others support to get you through.

 

 

When I was sick, I did not believe I had others to support me even though I did. When I was sick, I felt so isolated and alone even though I was surrounded by family and friends. I was scared to let others know what I was really thinking. I did not know how to start the conversation or even explain how lonely I was. It was much easier to put on the show – come across as happy and having it all together. Act like things did not bother me and that I was tough. Those actions resulted in me sinking further and further into Bulimia. It became my outlet, my best friend and eventually the beginning of my destruction. Depression followed. Alone. Hours trickling by, but feeling like days. Time moving so slowly. Crashing on my bed at night happy that it was finally here, but then quickly terrified of having to wake up and do it all again the next day.

As the day progressed, I was joined by another powerful lady. Brenda Giffen, my neighbour, friend and yoga instructor. She ran with me for a couple of hours Brenda 2and joined me for lunch on the end of her car. Sitting there on the back of her car, I felt peace. She has that affect on you. A calm voice, a true belief in your cause and a steadiness that allows you to push yourself forward. Through many yoga sessions with her, she has instilled balance in me and continuously reminds me this journey can not be done with physically fitness alone. It will take strength of the mind and a strong belief in yourself.

Again, this brings me back to my moments in Depression. I did not believe in myself. Instead I truly believed if anyone really knew who I was they would not like me. Therefore, I had to hide and be something I was not – trying to gain attention in negative ways since in my mind those were better then being invisible. I began to lose enjoyment in things I used to love. I was self conscious around people and avoided conversations with others when possible. I tried REALLY hard to “work hard” and enjoy things – but nothing seemed to work. Should I not be happy? I have so much to be grateful for. This made it worse. I told myself how selfish I was not to be happy with what I had. Angry, confused and mad at myself for not being good enough and of course being so selfish. Depression can be so confusing as you tell yourself these narratives over and over in your head. No answers to your questions or thoughts, but instead thoughts that just raced as you tried to sleep. “Tried” being the operative word as sleep did not come easy.

During the last 4.5 hours of my run I was joined by Christina Blackely. She shows up with a big smile and you can see her excitement in her eyes. She believes. Christinia BIMG_4955She gives me the belief that I can finish this run. I am 7 hours in at this point, but blister free thanks to my socks, blister cream and good sneakers! I am happy, driven and hopeful at this point but scared by the thought that I still have 4 plus hours more.

This is how I felt when I finally got into the treatment clinic. HAPPY. Yup! Someone is going to help me – there is hope. SCARED – I can’t do this as I am leaving everything for the unknown. DRIVEN. I went to the clinic with my sister, Velma Vos,  by my side. I originally was driven to seek help because I needed to do this for her as she BELIEVED I could.  She took me in when I was sick and watched lovingly as I self destructed. I will never forget the day she dropped me off for my orientation visit. She was so happy she was almost jumping up and down. Her eyes showed her excitement. She felt that hope. She believed I could. She wanted better for my life. At that point I loved her so much I wanted to make her happy. So I went. Deep down I hoped that one day I would want that too.

In therapy, I had to get rid of those endless to do LISTS that were really not LISTS but rather MUST DO or else YOUR A FAILURE sentences. When I began this 12 hour running day I purposely changed the screen on the garmin so I could not see how many km’s I covered. There was no RULE today. I learned some RULES ruin the experience. Today I run. Today I enjoy. Today I am in the moment. The amount of kilometres I run today (like the number on the scale years ago) will not rule my day and determine whether it was good or not. I will determine that. Me. Not a scale, not a garmin not someone else’s non belief in what I can accomplish. Me. I determine.

Finishing the run was awesome. I felt DONE. I was TIRED. But, I was hopeful for my mission. I completed one of my goals – to get though the training. I feel I have already succeeded. This run will be the icing on the cake. 🙂 I feel this way about my life now. I know to reach my goals in life in general I will be DONE and TIRED soemtimes along the way. I know life won’t be perfect, but I also know I have the strength to move forward and the support to pick me up when I am down. I TRY to rely on myself first as I am in control of how I perceive things. I TRY hard not to project my failures as a result of someone else not doing their part. Instead, I TRY to look at what I could do differently and what I learned. I TRY not to blame others, but especially not myself. I TRY to accept me for me – and know that my quirks are part of what makes me who I am.

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“Trying” on a trip to Colorado to see the view!

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“Trying” and succeeding in Colorado to get to the top!

TRY. I highlight that because I am not perfect. I fall when I try sometimes, but I still continue to try. From my marriage to my mothering to my work to my recovery, I try my very best to make good decisions, use positive coping mechanisms and give my best effort. More importantly. I TRY not to be hard on myself when my TRY might not of been good enough. I recognize that TRY does not mean PERFECT. Try is exactly that, TRY.

For the next three weeks I will take the time to work on my mental strength and staying healthy physically through rest, proper diet and enough sleep. After all, there is a big even that I plan to TRY very hard at: Virginia Vs Bruce. I hope many of you join me in this journey and continue to spread the word on Positive Mental Health. What does your positive mental health look like. I know what mine looks like and I TRY ever day to stay mentally healthy – NOT perfect.

6 Comments on “My Story Of Bulimia/Depression Through My Final 12 Hour Run

  1. Virginia, I have read every word of your blog (some areas twice) as if you were right here reading it to me. You are an amazing, strong and beautiful woman. All those years growing up as we were side by side on the court, in the school van or just hanging out, I had no idea you were going through so much. You are a true inspiration, and I will be following your every move through this amazing journey. You have moved me to tears, and joy all at the same time. I am so proud of you and can’t wait to see your smiling face when your accomplish this amazing GOAL. We may not have seen each other in years, but please know that you have so many people out there cheering you on and I will definitely be one of them. Lots of Love Kara xo

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  2. Virginia, what a journey you have been on. It has been a long time from the courts at Superior but know that I Am so proud of what you have accomplished! You are an amazing person and very strong and your words so inspiring! Can’t wait to read more…!
    I will be cheering you on…hugs….Donna MacKay

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  3. Although we haven’t known each other for long, our running time together tells me you CAN DO this! You are strong in so many ways. I feel privileged and happy to share this is part of your journey. Cheers!

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  4. I can’t even express my thought and emotions, all I can say is Thank You for the kind words this is exactly what I needed today. I am sorry that you had the battle that you did, your words will encourage and change people going forward 🙂 You will do amazing on your run, sending you nothing but good vibes 🙂

    Shannon Walker

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  5. Wow, Virginia, you are on an amazing journey and are truly an inspiration to people dealing with mental health issues striving toward wellness. When you were in school here in Bathurst, you and your sisters Vicki and Velma used to babysit our sons Jamie and Andrew and all three of you were such sweet girls. It is so great to see how far you have come and to witness your strength and determination. My husband Don who taught and coached for many years has also struggled with depression, as part of bipolar disorder, for over 25 years so we can certainly relate to the challenges you, your husband, and your family have faced. Stay strong! We are rooting for you! Janet MacLaggan

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