Good Medicine

April 12, 2006

Where I live, it has been raining and raining and raining for days upon weeks upon months, and I am feeling a combination of cabin fever, seasonal affective disorder, and claustrophobia of the life. I was just leaping from blogroll to blogroll, and came upon this inspiring post at The Last Duchess.

Depression is such a washed-out, all-purpose clinical term. LitBrit gets leveled by what I will call instead a familiar tsunami of angst and despair, and her husband issues an ultimatum: Get a doctor, or get a lawyer. Her kids’ doctor offers her another choice: get anti-depressants or get some exercise.

The day after the garage-crying incident, I pulled out a pair of running shoes I’d bought months earlier and to date had only worn when traveling (they don’t set off the metal detectors). I dug through one of my husband’s drawers and found a pair of long, voluminous nylon basketball shorts–there was no way I’d be seen dead in short-shorts, not while actually moving–and an old Rolling Stones t-shirt. I hid my house keys under some shrubbery and off I went. Two blocks later (and by block I mean four houses, tops), I folded over like a human paperclip and threw up in my neighbor’s front garden. This is supposed to make you feel better? I thought.

The next day, I gave it another try. I made it to the previous day’s Vomit Point, glanced around to see if there were any horrified faces peering through windows, any small children running in the opposite direction having been warned about the Scary Throw-up Girl in the baggy hip-hop outfit, and managed to run for two more blocks before the stabbing pain in my side grew unbearable. I walked to the half-mile point I’d ambitiously predetermined using my car’s odometer, and walked back. I had just traveled an entire mile by foot–four blocks of which I’d actually run–and there had been no vomiting whatsoever.

Not to spoil the post’s clincher, but…

I love the random associations afforded by this selfish sliver of aloneness and indulgence, this interlude of actual running away from it all that has, I believe, saved my life.

Yesterday the clouds cleared for a couple of hours. I shot hoops with my boy, hauled a pile of old fence planks, and pulled nails out of the splintery wood. The two hours of sunshine and physical activity functioned as a potent drug. LitBrit makes me want to pound some pavement.