When Times Get Tough, I Buy Shoes: Running Shoes.

I’m depressed again, but I don’t need happy pills. I just need to run more.

Original images: Mizianitka/Pixabay and doc Price/Unsplash

I’ve been feeling depressed again recently, for the first time in a long while.

I had a knockback at work which – as is my wont – I took quite badly.

And then, there was the end of summer. After the heatwave in mid-August, there were weeks of unseasonal, autumnal storms and heavy rain. I started to sense the short dark days and the long black nights a-coming. And I didn’t like it.

I’ve never been the type of person who takes adversity in his stride and just ploughs on.

Instead, I’ve been having unwanted, and exhausting, automatic thoughts again. Stuff I haven’t heard for a while, like: I should just kill myself.

My mind is like a stuck record I can’t lift the stylus off”

This doesn’t actually mean that I’m suicidal, but it does show that my thinking has slipped back into a familiar, negative groove that I’d managed to escape until recently. Now, my mind is a bit like a stuck record I can’t lift the stylus off.

But even if I’m not suicidal, I’m not very happy with my life, either. I’m angry at a lot of the decisions I’ve made and I don’t currently see a lot of point in me, or what I’m doing here on this Earth.

If I’d been filling in one of those mood checklists for a GP or psychologist – “How Often Did You Feel Hopeless?”; “How Often Did You Feel Worthless? – they’d be reaching for a prescription pad and writing Sertraline! or something similar, in large, clear letters.

But, having been off happy pills for almost four years now, going back on them would seem like a real defeat.

Besides, I don’t think I’m in enough trouble to need pills yet: I know from experience what I need to do to get back on track, even though it’s so boring, having to go through the whole recovery rigmarole yet again…

First, I tell my wife and kids about how I’m feeling, so they didn’t think I’m just being an arsehole for no reason. Then I sign myself off sick for a week and sit very quietly.

Last week, I read crime and fantasy novels for hours on end, which helped distract me from thinking about all the things I sucked at.

Then, when I felt stronger, I listened to some psychology podcasts. I Googled ‘overcoming rejection’ and eventually came up with a plan.

What the podcasts and the Googling told me was that I needed more things to look forward to in my life.

Planning future treats isn’t so easy due to Covid-19, and it’s not really the time to start splurging”

But planning future treats isn’t so easy in the age of Coronavirus, especially given the way that the Government is merrily blowing up holiday air bridges between here and the rest of the world. Then there’s the fact that most sport, leisure, and entertainment is still risky or off-limits, due to Covid-19.

This week, my wife and I should have been at a rescheduled Lloyd Cole show, but it’s been cancelled again and pushed back until April. Anyway, what with mass employment (possibly including mine) looming, it’s not really the time to start splurging.

The only thing I can imagine looking forward to this winter is running by the river”

And so, I decided that I would go running. Or, to be accurate, go running more.

Call it a failure of imagination or ambition if you will, but the only thing I can imagine looking forward to this winter is running by the river, alone and free.

Because the longer and further I run, and the stronger my body gets, the easier it will be to pick my sense of self-worth off the floor.

“The shoes are just the first step… before I know it, maybe I’ll have a life again”

This week, then, I went out and bought new running shoes – splurging £75 on a fresh pair of New Balance that will see me safely into the spring.

I am so skint right now that £75 is a serious outlay. But I know that the happiness and endorphin boost the shoes will guarantee me – two or three times a week for the next six months – actually makes them a steal.  

And maybe the shoes are just the first step. If I’m running seriously, and feeling happier about meeting people, I might get back into yoga again – because a strong core and flexibility are good for my running, while thinking that I’m worth the investment in classes will be good for my mind.

Gradually, I’ll build up a new routine – another thing that helps us out of a rut, apparently – and then, before I know it, maybe I’ll have a life again. 

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