The dog returned recently. Unexpected, unwanted but scratching at the door never the less. By some reckoning 50% of the inglorious MS tribe suffer from depression and other mental issues. When your own body decides to take against you it isn’t always easy to ‘be positive’ and ‘cheer up’. The random nature of the condition and how it can eat away not just at your physical frame but your sense of self can be overwhelming.
Besides depression isn’t being sad it’s being empty, stateless and wondering where all the air went. My dog isn’t evil but, as I get older, the frequency that he returns is perhaps of greater concern than the fact he exists at all. I did years without him, then a year, now months. I joke that I run to get away from my condition, sprinting from MS. I realise the truth may be more prosaic. My life has been constructed to survive the hole in my psyche. Running is just the latest attempt to find a way of filling the black hole.
It’s a little known (and less interesting fact) that I have a qualification in astronomy. I should know you can’t fill a black hole. It just keeps taking. I prepared for the Salisbury 10 mile with my dog who just wanted to drag me into that hole. I trained with the dog yapping at my heels, I did weights and stretches and wondered why I was there at all or if I was there at all. If you run long enough and hard enough you can gain a certain peace or at least ‘quietness’ through exhaustion. But then the day returns.
I am not running away from anything or to something. I run because the very act is an act of defiance. I run because it is my best hope of making a statement of independence. And as I finished Salisbury, in a shit time, the dog seemed further behind than recently, the hole smaller. The race hurt, the photo not of a man enjoying himself but trying not to stop. Dead stop.
Over the years I have met a number of people with depression. An ex once took her life, I was attacked by a man with an axe, I had a ‘stalker’ for a while. Depression surrounds us all, laced through society with ease. I have come to the conclusion that is why we don’t see it. It is the background noise to our lives, like elevator music but with the elevator only going down.
And that is the most important truth for me. This isn’t MS related. I have had depression far longer than MS. I just didn’t see it.