Depression and seven miles

I hope this picture of the pond behind my apartment makes the seasonal affective disorder worthwhile.

It’s ten days later, but nonetheless, Happy February!

The past two weeks have been something else, which would explain my absence on here. Originally February was going to be a delightfully busy writing month.

And then life happened.

I had a few job interviews that went nowhere, which felt demoralizing. Cabin fever has set in and my inner clock is telling me it’s time to get back to work. I know I will work again; when is the real question. Adding on to my own stress from wondering how long unemployment will last, a few folks in my immediate circle were starting to panic and voice that panic in the form of unsolicited job advice.

Here’s a piece of advice from someone who’s been in it before and is currently in it: if a friend, family member or loved one is unemployed, please – for the love of all things decent and holy – do not ask them several times a day if they’ve heard anything. They haven’t. They probably won’t. And bugging them about something they’re already stressed about is not going to magically get them employed again.

One of the folks in my close circle (who means well, but…) is convinced that the reason nobody gets back with rejections or to schedule interviews is because I’m not “standing out.” The way to stand out is to call anyone in the company to follow up to my application and let them know I’m interested.

This practice may have been common in the 1980s or 1990s. However, in the 2000s, calling people and “bugging the shit out of them” is not done. At best I would come across as ignorant to office norms – email is preferable to phone calls for non-emergencies, and since most if not all applying is done online, the person on the other end would have to wonder why a Millennial doesn’t understand that. At worst I’d be overbearing and have my resume sent to the rejection pile in favor of someone who isn’t pushy. I’ve explained this more than once, cited reputable career advice websites – I love Alison Green at Ask A Manager – and got the pushback that it’s obviously not working since no one is calling me back, and therefore I should stop being afraid and show some “gumption.”

That’s all it comes down to, folks – I’m simply a big ol’ coward for refusing to shoot myself in the foot/”bug the shit out of people.” Cowardice is the only reason I’m still unemployed.

If this were anyone else their opinion I wouldn’t have given two damns about their opinion. However, because this is someone I’ve known my entire life whose opinion does matter, it’s impossible not to feel stung by their attempt to browbeat me, even when I know my inaction in this particular example is the correct thing to do.

The words plus the stress wound up causing a severe depressive flare up late last week. Eventually the person in question apologized and backed off, but I was furious for a while after that.

Then I had a phone interview at a place where I actually want to work. Overall I had a good feeling about the owner and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly everyone was getting back to me from when I first applied. The in-person interview is tomorrow, and to be honest, even if the interview was a bust, I’m just pumped to get out of my apartment and see people.

So a lot happened, and I had to pull myself through it. I’m more than halfway through reading David Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me, which is the story of him having to overcome his own private battles and insecurities and turn his life around to become a Navy SEAL. He tells the story of teenage David creating an Accountability Mirror, where he had to look at himself and acknowledge the areas of his life he had completely messed up and had to correct.

This past weekend I had to look in the mirror and have my own accountability session. I had a depression flare up, which was a reasonable response to an unreasonable situation (the attempted browbeating.) However, Depressed Me tends to do counterproductive stuff in an attempt to self-soothe. Primarily, eat too much junk food, abandon showering and cry way too frequently.

I saw an exhausted, unhappy face in the mirror. I looked older and my face was puffy (a side effect of crying and allergies) as well as my midsection (comfort foods.) I told myself that even though I felt terrible, the world was not going to stop spinning for my sake. I had to get over what was said to me, get over myself, and stop letting words stay with me that frankly mean nothing.

I wasn’t helping myself by wallowing, and I had to stop acting so damn pathetic. I’m not a weepy little flower waiting to wilt. I’m Allison Gallagher, damn it.

The only beneficial thing I did during my latest episode was to start Week #1 of spring training. I haven’t decided which race I’m going to do yet, but I decided last week I had to start running again. My weekly breakdown was three miles on Monday, five miles on Wednesday and seven on Saturday, thus giving me a weekly total of 15. I didn’t think that was too bad, especially with my brain and eating habits being what they were.

This brings me to this past Monday morning. While I have been running, I haven’t been getting up super early to do it, which was a habit I proudly maintained back when I was working pre-pandemic. There’s something about an early morning run, when it’s still dark and cold, that makes me feel invincible. I needed to get back to that frame of mind.

This past Monday it was frigid. The sun hadn’t come up yet. My brain was giving me every excuse not to run, and yet my clothes were already sitting out in the dining room. There’s something about seeing the clothes sitting out and shoes by the door that kicks me in the pants when I need it most.

A little after 7 a.m. I went outside, bundled up in two pairs of leggings and my big winter coat. It didn’t feel so cold once I started moving, and I started running. I told myself come Hades or high water I was getting seven miles in before 8:30, which is the time my mom calls and we talk on her way into work.

As I ran and the sun came up over me, all the sadness from the past week and weekend went away. What was said was irrelevant. How I felt was irrelevant. I wasn’t pathetic anymore. Slowly but steadily I came alive and felt like me again. The old me, the me who was grateful to run with the sun and felt powerful again.

And before I knew it, my seven miles were done a little before 8:30 a.m.

I pulled through and conquered my brain. After that, nothing felt impossible.

I appreciate all of you stopping by. May you all continue to be strong while the world continues to spin off its axis or wherever it’s trying to go.

Yours in writing and running,


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