RUNNING THE MAUI MARATHON IN SUPPORT OF ONEWAVE :: Lucy Kelly
BEFORE THE RUN... On September 20th 2015 my best friend, Dani Ford, and I, Lucy Kelly, will be running the Maui Marathon in Hawaii in support of One Wave. We’ll be wearing their logo with pride on our shirts, and here’s why:
If we’re speaking technically, in terms of diagnoses and doctor’s certificates, I am mentally ill, and Dani is not. But both of us have been to some pretty dark places and made some pretty scary choices. We have both crawled our way out of those places. Both of us have lost close friends and family to suicide. Both of us have experienced the gut wrenching feeling of feeling like we couldn’t do enough, be enough, say enough to help somebody we loved. And both of us surf, and both of us run. When it comes to talking about our deep dark and twisty thoughts and the monsters sleeping in the fibre of our bones, we aren’t that great at it. We’re good at going on adventures. We’re good at setting goals and following through with them. Our goal last summer was to learn to tandem surf, and we’re pretty good at it now. (By pretty good I mean occasionally we both stand up for a solid 5 seconds). Our other goal last summer was to do well at Surf Lifesaving Nationals. We won two gold medals for surf boat rowing. In terms of setting goals and achieving them, we should have been stoked. We were. That night my anxiety and depression (which had been simmering underneath my skin all summer) ripped through me like an electrical storm and I almost lost myself in an endless wave of fear and despair. In an unfamiliar city, on a dark rainy night, in the midst of a real electrical storm, I began running to try and get it away from it all. It was this sobering end to what should have been a wonderful summer, that made me realise that sometimes adventures aren’t enough. The surf can wash away my panic, but my anxiety disorder is still there. Winning a gold medal at nationals can silence my anorexia’s constant self criticism for a moment, but at the next meal I’ll still be terrified. A run can make us forget about the people we’ve lost to mental illness, but it can’t bring them back or heal our guilt and grief.
We have to talk about it. We have to be brave and find the words to admit that its okay to not be okay. One Wave is the culmination of what I believe to be the two most important things to fighting mental illness: Using your body in a physical manner to reconnect with the world and build skill and value, and making mental illness an a-ok thing to talk about. So on September 20th I will run a marathon with my best friend. I will use my body in a physical manner to reconnect with the world and build skill and value. And I will wear the One Wave logo on my shirt, to get people talking, to raise awareness, to let people know that its okay to not be okay, and its okay to talk about not being okay. And then I’ll relax afterwards by chucking myself, my anxiety, anorexia, depression, and my beauty of a bestie into the surf and chucking a shaka to the shores of Hawaii and letting them know: One wave is all it takes.
THOUGHTS FROM THE FINISH LINE...
I ran a marathon today and every inch of my body hurts so much. I ran in support of OneWave, to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and get people talking about mental illness.
I have lived, loved, and lost so much in these past few months. I have been humbled by the people I have met, particularly in New Mexico. I have felt my heart break as I have been forced to deal with the grief and tragedy that coats the jagged edges of such a beautiful landscape.
It makes me angry, scared, and sad when I think that if mental illness wasn’t such a built up and misconstrued issue, then maybe the people I love would not be hurting the way they are.
I thought my post marathon blog would be about the honour and the joy and the pride of getting to run in such a cool place for such a cool organisation. I am so proud, so honoured, and so beyond stoked that I got to do one of the things I have been dreaming of since a little girl. However my world is not that simple.
Mental illness is just that - an illness. It is not something to be demonised nor romanticised. You are not special or unique or weird or wrong for being mentally ill. Having an eating disorder isn’t pathetic, self harming isn’t stupid, committing suicide isn’t cowardly. And within that, being anorexic is not dedicated, self harming is not beautiful, and committing suicide is not brave.
While the science and neuropathology of mental illness is complex, the consequences and stigma around it are simple. We are afraid of the unknown. And yet humanity as a collective has had the courage to fly into the stratosphere, to dive to unknown depths of the ocean, to land on the moon and to seek out life on Mars. Why then are we afraid of our own minds?
You are but a speck of dust in this endless universe. And within you is an infinity of constellations and strength. You owe it to yourself to not be afraid of these two truths.
Just because you feel more deeply, and hurt more profoundly, and do not cope as well with everyday life as the people around you, does not make you special or broken. It is not your fault you got sick, and it is not your fault you are in pain, however it is your responsibility to engage in behaviour that can facilitate getting better. Whether that is talk therapy, behavioural therapy or drug therapy, it doesn’t matter. You do what works and you do it until it works. Getting sick is not a choice. But committing suicide is, and it’s the worst possible choice. Getting better can also involve a level of choice, have the courage to make that choice.
I have come to understand through this crazy journey across the globe and toward this finish line that the most powerful force in this world is love. Love will drive us crazy, and love will set us free. It does not matter how scared you are, or how much you have lost. You must be open to love. Even when it feels unbearable. Be open to love with all you have.
Love your life and the people in it, every breath and every moment. If you get sick, get help. Be brave. Fight. One Wave is about this, they are fighting mental illness with energy, openness and a love for feeling alive. Thanks for reading my ramblings fam. I leave you with a quote from a beautiful piece Margaret Oconnor read at Cooper’s memorial last year: “Two things among an infinite number of other wisdoms, that Cooper leaves me with, is the courage to turn the mirror around and find forgiveness, and the strength to take the risk to love fully, again and again.”