Run Like the Wind: Failed Attempts to Sprint Past My Illness

Sometimes it happens when I’m sitting alone. Or sometimes it happens at a restaurant or inside a home with friends or family. I suddenly have this intense, aching desire to get up and start running. My chest aches, my forehead breaks into an unnoticeable sweat, and my legs begin to shake.

I imagine myself running fast and free, my heels almost touching the back of my thighs, my chest heaving, my throat burning, my sweat drying from a cool breeze. Unlike real life, while I have pain in my thighs, I don’t stop. Instead, the pain frees me from it all – I can keep running for as long as I need to.

Maybe I’ll run to the cemetery and slowly pass the plots with names, dates, and rotting flowers. Or maybe I’ll find a dead street and see the left out tricycles, garbage, and lawn chairs. Or maybe, I’ll run to my car, get in, and drive far away from wherever I currently sit.

Sometimes, there is even a soundtrack as I run, pushing me farther, faster. I have run so far, I have shattered the disorder from my heart, my lungs – it disintegrates, dissipating slowly from my blood stream, ripped off in one large piece from my dermal layer of skin – it now lays in a heap far, far behind me.

And this quest I have now begun, with only the clothes on my back, and the sweat lathered upon my head, neck, and back, has lead me to a new place of hope. A place where no one knows who I am or what I’ve done. There is no pressure to smile, to captivate, or to be proper or interesting. I can reinvent myself to be a loner in a small town. Maybe I’d go to the same restaurant every day and they would already know what I wanted because it’s what I order every time. Or maybe I’d be that quirky girl who doesn’t talk much but dresses in 50’s clothes, and buys vinyl records and wears distinctively eye-catching makeup.

I build a life there. One where my past does not haunt me. Where my future is open for business, for discussion, full of choice and random coincidences. Where there is no place for my disorder and therefore I choose what to be and that is now who I am. I am no longer defined within the limits of my disorder. No pills, no doctors, no concerned faces, no worries of failure. My skin is fresh, my heart is full – I am finally the real me – whoever that may be, for however long I choose.

And then I am snapped from my daydream – my feet firmly on the ground. The sound of others in the restaurant too loud, the conversation uninteresting. In my plain, non-descriptive clothes, I sit and attempt to listen, knowing those around me are worried I’m not speaking. Where have I gone in my thoughts? Will I come back? Will they have to deal yet again with a depressive episode? Should they try to make me laugh? Should they leave me alone? Do I just need a good cry before I come back to them?

It’s nighttime now and here I sit. My disorder masking my screams, my desires to run from the life I have inevitably created. I am not who I want to be; I am not where I want to be. And yet, this is the consequence of my disorder and therefore my decisions and choices.

It’s not until I’m in bed at night, feeling my belly heave up and down as I wait for my medications to knock me out into a world of dreams and nightmares, that my thoughts turn to running away. And slowly I fall into sleep and awake the next morning disappointed to find myself in the same place.