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Love's Language's Lost

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016


I'm running a 10k race this evening and am stupidly nervous - to the point of feeling like vomiting. This is not because I've haven’t done this distance before - I've run three 10k races in the last year - but because I'm so scared of failing and being disappointed. My body is shaking with nerves.

When I ran this same race a year ago, I achieved my personal best time and was very proud of my accomplishment, particularly because I’d run another 10k race eight weeks prior and managed to beat that time by over 6 minutes. So I was looking forward to running tonight’s race again, because it clearly was a good omen for me; I was determined to again beat my previous PB by repeating this race, and felt sure I would.

However, since that race last September, I've had a series of physical setbacks - fracturing my foot; ripping my calf muscle; multiple chest infections; ongoing joint issues with my hypermobility - all of which have severely impacted my training. Over the last 12 months, I’ve been practically couch-bound for weeks at a time, so running consistently has been a challenge. It's only really been in the last six weeks or so that I've felt anywhere close to the level of fitness I had this time last year, but I'm still not quite there yet.

So today I'm forced to accept that beating my PB is near on impossible. Indeed, even running at all carries some risk given my back injury (sciatica) from 13 years ago resurfaced a fortnight ago and I've had to be very careful just going about my daily activities. This means I’ve also had to accept that I probably won’t get close to my PB, or even be able to run 10k in under an hour, which disappoints me hugely.

All this is making me upset and anxious. I want to prove to myself I can get better (both in body and in mind) and I can set myself targets that I can smash. I still want to do well; I want to beat myself. I will be so upset if I don’t - even given the above physical issues. To not win tonight, to not achieve what I want to, feels like defeat; it seems like I will lose all the momentum I have built, and the pride I have earned, in what I have managed to accomplish so far.

I know I'm fighting a battle with no one other than me and my ego and I am aware it sounds stupid: I’ll run the race and just doing it is a win, right? I never thought I would be someone who (boringly) talks about PB race times, and running training, and time targets, but I’ve found something I love and which I am passionate about, and it means a huge amount to me to be able to do it well, rather than just ‘do it’

So my body’s nervous state - I feel *so* sick right now - is a response to me struggling with accepting that failure *is* an option; I don’t want it to be, I want to win, damn it. Quietly, I will admit that here’s a glimmer of hope in the back of my mind that I manage to achieve what I hope I can do tonight, but if I don’t, I hope I won’t be too hard on myself. I’m my own worst enemy, sometimes. And there’s always another race, in which to improve, I guess…

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Monday, August 08, 2016


Yesterday, I ran nine miles - two and a half miles further than I’d ever run. Nine miles non-stop. And I ran around Regents Park for an hour and 45 minutes wearing just a pair of shorts and my sports bra.

Me, in a sports bra. No vest. No big baggy top to hide under. With my H-cup boobs. Running with my wobbly belly jiggling about, on display to the world. Who would have thought it? Not me.

I was planning a long run yesterday, because I’m training for a couple of races next month, and it was so hot out that I decided not to wear an additional layer over my bra. ‘Fuck it. Who cares?’ I thought. ‘I don’t give a shit what people think. What’s important is whether I can run 8 miles (which was my original target) comfortably’. Inspired by runner Kelly Roberts who started up the #SportsBraSquad social media hashtag, to get women to ditch wearing additional tops when they run, I went out, in public, wearing very few clothes: something I never do. I dressed for practicality, not vanity; I dressed not worrying about how people might see me.

I imagine this shift in attitude is not unrelated to the change in how I now view my body; I am able to see it as something I like, and even enjoy, rather than something which I used to despise. I value the strength and resilience that I now have and appreciate the achievements my body is capable of. My body feels strong, which makes me feel strong; this is where my confidence to go out in a bra and shorts comes from, not thinking I look super hot.

But when I first started running regularly, back in January last year, I wanted to hide my body; actually, I just wanted to disappear. I was suffering from depression and felt like my existence on the planet was so worthless that I didn’t deserve to take up any space on it. My clothes reflected that mood. I’d put on black leggings, black thermals, a black jacket, even black running shoes, when I went for a run. I didn’t want to be seen in the winter gloom and I wanted to cover my body in the darkness I felt inside. For months, I tried to be as invisible as possible, as if by camouflaging the outside of me it would somehow disguise the pain I felt inside.

When I wrote about running and depression last summer, I was still healing; I now consider myself in active recovery - that is, I keep self-medicating by running on an almost daily basis to combat my depression, and that has kept the inside of me happy for a long time now. I can’t put my finger on when things altered for the outside of me. Along with me feeling confident enough to go running in just a bra, I’m aware how colourful I look when I run, because all my running gear (which currently consists of 90% of the clothes I wear each week, no joke) is now bright and boldly patterned.

My altered self-perception, and confidence, has brought about a shift in how I present myself. No longer do I want to hide, or cover up the shame I used to feel; now I want to be present in the world, be visible. So when I run, I don’t try to disappear anymore; I feel bold and strong and my outfit reflects that, whether that be lots of colour, or running in a sports bra.

It’s so strange to me to feel the confidence that I currently have. To not give a shit about people judging me. To look in the mirror and be proud to see the outline of muscles I have *earned*. To feel the rewards of my hard work by being able to run for almost two hours straight - and be buzzing with joy at the end of it. To run free, with just a bra, and give zero fucks. I’m not the fittest person out there and I’m definitely not the best toned, but I sure as hell am going to enjoy my body and its strengths. So if you see a woman drenched in sweat, panting away, as she pounds the pavement in her bra and brightly coloured shorts, give her a smile and nod: it may well be me.

I don't do dull, anymore.

Saturday, July 30, 2016


Today marks four years since I asked someone to marry me. It was such a huge moment in my life, possibly the most exciting and terrifying thing I have ever done.

We’d arrived in New York a few days prior. He’d never visited the city; for me, on the other hand, I called it my second home: somewhere I’d been visiting since I was a baby; my first true love. What better place to take him to, then, than the city which filled my heart with joy; I so wanted him to experience that with me.

He ‘got’ New York. He witnessed its beauty, he experienced the excitement I always talked about; he fully understood why the city’s vibrancy energised me and made me so happy. We did some magical things there: we saw New York band LCD Soundsystem’s documentary on its opening release in downtown Manhattan; we had front row seats at the The Daily Show taping where Jon Hamm was a surprise guest; we sat in a tiny theatre and watched fellow Brit comic Simon Amstell perform to a confused, but adoring, local crowd. I took him to my favourite cocktail hangouts and dive bars for Martinis, Manhattans and sake. We ate the best burgers and salt (corned) beef sandwiches, and stuffed ourselves with cheap sushi. We met with my oldest, dearest friends, and drank mimosas over lazy brunch. We wandered all over Manhattan, just soaking in the atmosphere, both of us laughing at his disbelief of how pretty everyone looked. We ran hand in hand through the most torrential downpour I have ever witnessed - puddles up to your ankles in minutes - and laughed till we were choking because we were so drenched: far too wet to sit in a restaurant. I have so many memories of that trip, so much laughter; it was a joy to be with someone I love in the city I love.

But it wasn’t all roses. I remember having a huge row and then us sitting apart in silence in Bryant Park, mutually seething with fury. I can’t recall what we argued about, but that coldness between us I’ll never forget. At the time, looking at all the seemingly happy people in the park going about their normal business, I felt so sad, and wondered if fighting like that was normal; whether other people argued with such anger that silence was the only possible way to cope. After a while, though, we both apologised and had fantastic make-up sex when we got back to our tiny rented apartment; a couple of days later, I proposed to him.

It was something I had been pondering for a while. When we booked the trip to New York, a thought occurred to me that it would be the perfect place to propose. We had talked about growing old together, starting a family, building a life. Why not get married? Seize the day.

On our final evening in the city, he finally met my closest friend, whom I’ve known my whole life and is like an older brother to me, and after some drinks, he and I walked to Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights. What could possibly be more romantic than walking over Brooklyn Bridge and then asking someone to marry you, as the sun sets over Manhattan?, I excitedly thought to myself.

My heart was racing the entire walk and I was flush with anticipatory worry. He wasn’t perfect - but then neither was I. We both had flaws and baggage and things that were difficult to deal with: we’re just human. We fuck up, we behave like arseholes, we hurt people with our stupidity, tunnel vision and inability to compromise. But we also nourish and cherish and care and that’s what makes relationships possible; you have to give love to feel loved. So any momentary doubts I had paled into comparison with the love I felt for him right then. I knew it was the right thing to do: I wanted to spend my life with him.

As we approached the midpoint of the bridge, we stopped to marvel at the view, and I posed the question. “I know you don’t believe in it,” I began, which wasn’t perhaps the most romantic way to start a marriage proposal, but he’d often voiced his dislike of marriage as an institution, so I needed to accommodate that. “I know you don’t believe in it, but I’d like to spend my life with you, so would you, um, marry me?”

He was silent for a moment. As anyone on the asking end of this equation will tell you, a second’s silence seems like five minutes. Time expands, rapidly, when your heart is on the line. I don’t know how long he was quiet for, but he finally grinned, and said “Yes, of course I will!” Later, he told me that he paused to think; that he wanted to give my proposal proper thought, to explore any conflicting feelings he had, so as not to just instinctively respond, but to genuinely do so with heart and mind in sync. We kissed and then walked over the bridge to Manhattan with our feet light as clouds. It was lovely.

I’m glad I can look back at this with warmth. He’s no longer in my life in a meaningful way, but my thoughts of him are mostly fond. There is some pain there: it didn’t work out, which is sad, and today reminds me of that. I miss him - particularly the companionship we had, because we were best friends for years, and I still feel the loss of that closeness now - but I can see now that we weren’t right for each other in a relationship. Love isn’t enough if you can’t make each other happy day to day and also in the long term, though we tried our best.

I don’t regret proposing. It’s perhaps the boldest thing I’ve ever done. Opening your heart to someone that way is scary, for sure; I won’t be able to do that again in a hurry, I don’t think. But living a life without emotional risk, is, to me, not one really worth living. You have to experience pain to be able to value the flip side, which is joy; you have to put yourself out there, and face possible rejection, to be able to find someone with whom you deeply connect. Fear eats the soul, but love nourishes it. I hope to one day again find the sort of love which time won’t fade, but instead will fill it with colour. Here’s to making rainbows and enjoying sunsets with someone else in the future.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016


This body. This body tells a story; it has its own narrative, distinct from the chaotic thoughts in my head. It finds its own way, journeys separate to the me I am conscious of, and sets its own pace. No panic or anxiety for this body: it is steady, firm, unwavering.

This body is not young, nor sprightly. It doesn’t move with ease; often it creaks and strains and is ungainly. It doesn’t bounce so much as thud, but its forward motion comes with focus and clarity.

This body is not unblemished: there are age lines on my face, many grey hairs on my head, and scars, wrinkles and pock marks in too many places to mention. This body hasn’t yet seen childbirth, but it owns plenty of stretch marks and cellulite, and deep creases of skin encase the fat beneath.

This body has been sexually assaulted and violated and its youth taken advantage of, but the scars from that don’t show on the outside. It’s also had consensually lustful fingers and mouths explore and caress it, but the secrets within were only shared with those whom I loved.

This body has been operated on, prodded by doctors, explored with medical equipment, and treated with pharmaceuticals, and it’s still not entirely healthy, but then it has kept me alive thus far: it can’t be doing too badly.

This body has had injuries, pain that endures in the background on a good day, and requires a daily question be asked of it: am I pushing too hard? I trust this body will have the answer; it makes its own decisions, choices I have to follow, whether I want to or not.

This body is something I used to feel shame over. Much of my life was spent hating how I looked, wishing I could change my physique, and unable to view my own reflection in the mirror. I have felt ugly and unattractive, and this includes to the people I had crushes on - even the people I was intimate with. Though intellectually I have always known, and tried to accept, that other people’s validation of my appearance or attractiveness shouldn’t matter, it still did. I still cared what people thought of me; even now I do, a little.

This body is not something I have ever displayed; revealing or tight-fitting clothes have never been something I am comfortable dressing in. Throughout my life, this body has been covered in layers of fat and in layers of clothes, both in order to hide my shame and disgust of it.

This body has caused me internal turmoil about my politics - on the one hand reading Fat is a Feminist Issue and knowing that women’s self-hate and body image issues are due to patriarchy and capitalism, yet on the other hand being unable to feel little else but disgust in how I looked. If the personal is the political, how could I, a feminist, be so hypocritical in saying women need to reject patriarchal judgments of their beauty, yet still - privately - questioning my own worth within that?

This body is not, in today’s valuation of female beauty, Internet-perfect. There is no “strong eyebrow game”, no “flawless” smoothness of skin due to youth or expensive foundation, no fancy “eye-liner on fleek”. This body is not glossy, or firm; this is no Instagram fave-worthy photo, filtered and cropped for the best light, best pose, most attractive view. This body is me, moments after finishing a run. This body is drenched in sweat, this face is red, this hair is frizzy and pulled back in an unglamorous, but practical, way. This out-of-breath body is me.  Those tired legs are mine. That wet sheen all over me I earned - with this body. This body doesn’t look attractive, in the *heart eyes emoji* sense; it’s just a body, in a spontaneous, badly composed, photo, capturing a moment.

This body I like. This body is strong. This body got me through four miles of running today and afterwards it thanked me for pushing it, even though it was hot outside and mentally I was ready to quit after five minutes. This body powers me - not just in my runs, but through my ongoing defeat of depression: a battle I fight daily. This body allows me thinking time, a space where I can just hear my heart beating and I know: this is it, I am glad to be alive *right now*. This body lets me push it through injury and illness and it still continues on, making me grateful every day that I have two working legs I can run on. This body has shown me that confidence isn’t about being seen as sexy, but in feeling strong; and there is nothing sexier to me than strength and confidence. This body isn’t indestructible, but every day I run using it, I feel better about who I am and have learned to hate myself a little less.

This body in this photo - a photo I am sharing publicly, for all the negativity it might bring - is something I am proud of, finally. It’s my body. Me. Flaws and all. I think I may finally love my body. I think I may finally love me.
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Friday, January 01, 2016


I wish I hadn’t created my blog with a start date of January 1st 2004. I first had the idea of writing an anonymous blog about my sex life back in October 2003, and for some reason - most likely because I am weirdly anal (I mean that in the pedantic, not sexual sense, obv.) - I felt that beginning at the start of the year would be most fitting for a first entry of a sex blog, so I waited a few months, gagging at the bit, before publishing that initial post.

However, now, twelve (12?!) years later, the January 1st start date really annoys me and I regret not beginning this blog months prior. I’ve historically done a post on this date every year, trying to sum up my previous twelve months into one single blog entry, and it could have been any date I picked on which to start - I could be summing up my year to July 6th, for example - but stupidly chose the one day annually where everyone and their cat writes something about their previous year.

Today, you can’t move for Facebook status updates of people musing on “lessons learned” or things they’re grateful for, or resolutions they hope to achieve (because obviously annual promises made in public will be kept). Twitter’s even worse with its new-year-new-me lists and the needy-ego-stroking tweets that make up the “best selfies’” contributions. Maybe people like this stuff, but I find it immensely irritating; I just don’t care. It’s another meaningless day in the calendar and people’s public need for external validation is just grating.

But then, I have this blog - where every (well, almost every…) intimate and personal activity of mine, over many years, has been posted for all to read and ponder. Hey, if I have been good at one thing, it’s over-sharing, right? (And, perhaps, blowjobs.) Maybe I’ve just grown out of the desire to share so much publicly with strangers and am more mature now; or maybe I’m just boring and old and posting on an almost-dead twelve-year-old blog, which is unremarkably ancient in today’s social media age, and am out of touch with what other people enjoy online. Ymmv, as they say. Thank fuck for the mute/unfollow button, is what I say.

Anyway, I find myself here again, wanting somehow to sum up the past twelve months as I have similarly done for the last twelve years, but frustrated that in doing so, I’m having to participate in the valueless annual “New Years’” charade. And, quite honestly, who gives a shit? But, as mentioned earlier, I’m anal in my need for order and repetition, and posting something here is mostly for me, so I have a record of time passing, than it is for people to find interesting. So if you’re reading this dull entry, sorry: there won’t be any hot sex in it. I had some this year, if you must know, but I made promises not to write any details, and I’m a woman of my word.

To sum up: it’s been a tough year, which is the understatement of the year. It was shittily shit. I got down, I came up, I got fit, I got fucked. I didn’t have anyone steal my heart (I’m not quite ready to give it away again), but I was reminded that my brain is as sexy as my hard thighs and also that my appetite is a good thing, not bad. I didn’t publish as much writing as I wanted, but I have a handful of projects I worked on and of which I hope a few will come to fruition this year. I tore my quadricep tendon and fractured my foot, but neither have stopped me running, because running is what keeps me alive. I tried to be a good friend and be more present with family, but both of those I could be better at. I attempted to avoid online battles and ignore personal attacks when they were thrown in my direction, because life’s too short - and those things fill me with anxiety. I slept too little, didn’t love myself enough, and realised that whilst anger and pain eats at the soul, joy nourishes it. I hope to spend the next twelve months in pursuit of all things joyful. Here’s hoping your 2016 is filled with happiness too.*

*And lots of shagging. Please god let there be loads of that this year.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Love's Language's Lost 


I want to call you thou, the sound
of the shape of the start
of a kiss – like this, thou -
and to say, after, I love,
thou, I love, thou I love, not
I love you.

Because I so do – 

as we say now – I want to say
thee, I adore, I adore thee,

and to know in my lips
the syntax of love resides,
and to gaze in thine eyes.

Love’s language starts, stops, starts;
the right words flowing or clotting in the heart.

From Rapture (Picador, 2005), © Carol Ann Duffy 2005

We recently met for coffee. It’d been some while since we’d seen each other - the longest gap of time since we first met, years ago. At some point during the conversation, he called me by one of the pet names he used to use. His doing so wasn’t meaningful or significant in any way; I think it was just habit, him absent-mindedly defaulting to what had once been normal for us. It was this that got to me: how much I missed the words we spoke to each other, the language we used.

I’m naturally drawn to people for whom words and the utilising of language is of high importance. I wrote, many years ago, about being weak for wordsmiths, so it was no surprise that I ended up with someone with a degree in linguistics. His skill and understanding of language fascinated me, but it was his playfulness with words which won me over. I loved his silly puns, his ability to make a joke with purely the addition of a semi-colon, his structuring and restructuring of a tweet until it was absolutely perfect, because why say something unless it actually had meaning?

I don’t know if he ever liked my writing, but he always laughed at my clumsy attempts to create portmanteaus, he’d applaud my failed puns, and even when no one else understood the irony of something I had posted online, he’d get it; I had my own, private appreciative audience with never-ending applause: it didn’t matter to me what others thought.

I really miss that. But it’s the language of being a couple that I miss the most. I’m not talking about saying “I love you”, or the replacement of “I” and “my”, with “we” and “our”, or even the sexy things whispered (or shouted) when in the heat of passion. Those things are external, possessive and impulsive. I’m referring to the unique dialect that two people in an intimate relationship create: a new way of connecting that is entirely private and special and individual to those two people alone. That comes from a much deeper, internal place, where words bind the heart in a way that sex cannot.

The beauty of this language is its union and its isolated use between two people; it’s not shared with others, it thrives and develops through intimacy and private interaction. Words take on new meanings; sentences require special keys to unlock the subtext; an entire new way of communicating is born and just those two people have learned how to speak it.

We used to have a code, a particular phrase which when said by either of us meant: ‘It’s safe to say whatever you want now. This space around us, these people - they don’t exist. All there is is us, and no judgement. Speak freely.’ It’s funny how often that phrase still comes to mind, even now. Many times I’ve been on the verge of saying it with friends when deep in conversation, and even on a few dates; it’s a slightly painful reminder that no one else would understand: this is the language of just him and me.

And now that language is gone.

There are still so many elements of that discourse which I find myself about to say, phrases I want to use. It’s still so habitual - years of speaking it makes it so. It feels weird, and also sad, when you realise that it is you speaking it alone, as if it’s an ancient dialect no one else knows, or is able to learn; that the language is lost forever.

It hurts, somewhat, to think of him learning a new secret language, with its own private jokes, short-hand, codes, and terms of affection with someone else. But that is the thing: each relationship offers the beauty of this new dialect, a fresh and exciting way to communicate with just that person; so whilst I may still mourn the loss of this particular language, I really am looking forward to creating another one with someone else.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


I used to be very cynical when I read how depression could be improved through exercise. So many writers of articles seem to claim that they have magically and instantly overcome their depression simply by exercising; their underlying (and sometimes blatant) smugness is incredibly off-putting. It’s especially frustrating to read if, like many people, one leads an active life and still suffers from mental health difficulties. Exercise is not the cure-all it’s often made out to be, and people have in no way failed if it does little to assist them.

So I feel somewhat cautious about writing this post, because right now I am evangelical about exercise, and that’s not something I ever expected myself to feel, let alone say publicly. I can only speak for myself, obviously, and I’m posting this mostly just to put my thoughts out there, but also to share my own personal experience in case it might be helpful. I’m also very nervous about publishing this, because it is an incredibly personal post, and, well, I don’t share this stuff in public usually. But if doing so assists someone else, I think it’s worth it.

Please note, this is a post about depression: some people may find details below triggering.

Earlier this year I was experiencing possibly the worst depression I’ve ever had. I felt constantly anxious, sad, but also numb. Even basic things like eating became difficult; how is it possible that even food can taste grey and lacking pleasure? Nothing in my life seemed to have colour. I was heartbroken over an incredibly painful breakup, I felt unable to write - the only thing I could produce were tears - and I was full of self-hatred at lost opportunities both personal and professional. Even my sex drive disappeared.

I wanted something to distract me from my persistent grief and self-loathing and I discovered that external pain temporarily made the internal pain disappear. But with no partner around to whip my arse full of delightful marks, I took instead to hurting myself. Punching myself to the point of painful bruising gave me a form of release that was much needed and it also made me forget how much my insides were hurting. I liked how it felt, but it was when I wanted more, where I was constantly fantasising about cutting myself, that I knew what I was doing was fucked up (and I talked about it with a therapist) and needed to stop.

I really was in the depths then. I had got to the point where I just didn’t want to be alive, because every day that I was, I was overwhelmed and suffocated by how awful I felt and it seemed better - it seemed easier - to just quit. I felt like I had used up all my favours with friends with my incessant talking about my silly broken heart, that I was boring even myself with my permanently low mood. I longed for quiet, for my stupid brain and heart to shut up, and many, many times the idea of ending it seemed so, so appealing.

I don’t know what changed, or when it changed. There was no epiphany. This wasn’t a movie where some knight in shining armour appears, or some fairy godmother waves a happy wand. No magic pill took the pain or darkness away. Nothing radical happened. But something in me shifted. It was subtle, very quiet, but present: it was a vague desire to move. To shift. To put one foot in front of the other and walk forwards. To leave the bad stuff behind. And so I did.

My first forays were walks in a local nature reserve. I would walk until the panic I felt lessened, and instead of hearing my own whiny voice in my head, I was listening to the birdsong that surrounded me. I began walking a few times a week and soon my walks got faster and longer and more frequent. At some point, a few weeks in, I decided there was no point walking anymore, because now I wanted to run.

Running was, for me, something I used to do regularly. Indeed, in this blog’s earliest posts over ten years ago, much of it is filled with dull recounts of distances I had run and speeds I had achieved. I had begun running as a hobby in 2003, as a result of a back injury which had left me off work for six months and depressed. After my recuperation, I kept running for some years - for pleasure mostly, but also for fitness - and it’s only been in recent years that I’ve let this slip from my life.

So that was how I found myself, in the depths of miserable February, dressed in all the warm layers I could find, running in my local park when it was dark, 5ºC and pouring with rain. As I ran through the physical pain - and god, it really did hurt back then - I kept thinking: Zoe, if you can do this, if you can make it through this and how fucking grim and horrible it is outside, you can make it through anything. I do remember that day, because that was really the start of it all for me. Every day I run now, I say the same thing to myself: if you can do this, you can do anything. Four months in and I know it’s true.

And so I ran. I continue to run and run. Every step forwards is a step away from pain, a step closer to feeling better. But this isn’t just some mind-game mantra I play with myself, I know that 45 minutes in (and for me, it’s never sooner), endorphins kick in, and suddenly I feel flooded with huge amounts of positive brain chemistry which overwhelms the negative. I’m not going to cite sources or quote scientists on this, or explain how and why it happens, but for me this stuff is real. The equation, in my experience, is simple: I feel shit, so I run. Some happy brain chemistry happens, then I feel brilliant. That’s it. Nothing more.

But it doesn’t have a permanent effect, alas. For me, my depression whilst now manageable, is still very much at arm’s reach. If I don’t do any exercise on a given day, my mood immediately becomes low. If it’s a few days, the black cloud hovers directly over me and I feel awful. Its return really is that quick. So the only thing I can do is keep running - keep moving forwards - because as long as I do that, I feel good about myself.

Of course, there are other positive side effects which have helped to improve my mood: I feel fitter than I have done for years; I am constantly impressed by my body’s abilities and achievements; and I adore how my body is changing, becoming firmer and stronger and more powerful. I look in the mirror now and instead of hating what I see, I know I’m strong and determined and beautifully more muscular. I like me now and every day I run, or go to the gym, or do a boxing class, I like myself even more.

Exercise, for me, has quite literally saved my life and continues to do so on a daily basis. I want to be alive now - I love how alive I feel after running for five miles. Because of that, I began thinking: if this has helped me, maybe it can benefit others? That’s when I remembered: ten years ago I ran the London 10K race for a charity. Wouldn’t it be a nice, pleasingly-circular thing to run it again, ten years later, so that something else even more positive can come out of my depression?

That’s why I am running the London 10K race again this July 12th, on behalf of The Nia Project - a charity who support women and children who are suffering domestic violence. Running the race is not just about proving to myself that I can do it once more, but wanting to give something back to people whose situation is far more desperate than my own. I’m running for Nia because I want to help women who are experiencing violence and fear escape from it, and get back on their feet. So please, if you can donate even a quid, it would be greatly appreciated.

If this post has resonated with you in any way, I hope that it’s been for good reasons, not because I come across as smug or lecturing others on a “cure” for depression. I just hope that it might help some people, or at least shed some light on an area that is very dark and hard to talk about. And also this is my way of poking my head out of the dark waters, waving a bit and saying I’m okay. I’m going to be okay.

P.S. The comment box isn't working, but if you'd like to talk about this post, please @ me on Twitter: I'm @girlonetrack

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