2011 was one of the worst years of my life. I’ve had two years in my life that stand out for me as the absolute worst. One of them marred by tragedy, one of them due to my own self loathing.
I had my fourth child in 2011 and fell into what I now realise was the darkest pit of post natal depression I’d ever seen. Everything seemed impossible and I hated myself with all of my being.
Growing up I had never had a weight problem but with each of my four pregnancies I gained around 25-30kg and with each pregnancy I kept some of it on. So by the time I’d had my last I was hovering around the 90kg mark. The mixture of PND and accompanying self loathing was the catalyst for what I’d now classify as a significant mental breakdown.
So obviously my solution to that was to drink hideous amounts of alcohol and eat enough food to satisfy several adults.
Come January 2012 I had an epiphany. I know you read people talk of these moments where something shifts in your psych and generally you think it’s all bullshit, but this really did happen to me.
I realised that change doesn’t happen without change and although I hated myself and hated my life – it wasn’t going to get any better doing what I was doing. Although I was terrified of change I knew it had to happen.
I sought help through therapy and I stopped drinking. That was the 4th January 2012 and I have not touched a drop of alcohol since, nor have I ever looked back.
Alcohol was the depressant I didn’t need on top of my existing fragility and taking that out was the best decision I have ever made in my entire life. I’d even put it ahead of the birth of my children, that in itself speaks volumes of the darkness I was in.
In February 2012 I started walking near our home in London. I found over the weeks I could get around the river loop I was doing faster and faster and then one day I decided to run.
I started counting lamp posts. In those early days I could only run the distance between two of them. The next week it was three, then four ….
The weight started to fall off, my confidence slowly returned and I became determined to be able to run the distance between two of the Thames Bridges which is about 2.5km.
That first milestone was the hardest one for me to achieve. It took me a few months, but I did it. My next challenge was getting to 5km.
A friend of mine suggested I run ParkRun with her and although I went very unwillingly, that 5km run was my most satisfying achievement to date. Although I now run distances far in excess of that, nothing I have done has ever come close to that first accomplishment.
My next goal was a 10k race and I did that in November 2012. Full of adrenaline and that amazing sense of achievement, I came home from that race and signed up for my first half marathon. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to do it but I figured in January that same year if you’d told me I would be able to run 10k I’d have died laughing.
It was around this time that Operation Move entered my life. Although I was living in London, I found my tribe amongst a group of women scattered all over Australia who shared my love for running and who I sourced all my encouragement from.
The team spirit and group encouragement even in a solo sport like running is invaluable. At times when I didn’t want to get out of bed, or when my race goals seemed too far away – it was Operation Move that kept me going and I am so proud to call some of these women my best friends in the world.
When we moved back to Sydney from London in 2013, it was my team that made the transition an easy one – knowing I had this wonderful support network waiting for me when I got back to Australia.
With their encouragement, in May 2013 I ran my first half marathon.
Since then I have run several more half marathons, many 10k races and other distance events and I try to do all the charity races around Sydney.
In addition to that, in April this year I finally reached my ultimate goal and ran the London Marathon. I finished it in 4 hours 27 minutes and am so proud of that medal it’s ridiculous!
Zero to 42.2km in just over two years.
In that time I have lost 35kg. My fitness is excellent and I am the healthiest I’ve been my entire adult life. My confidence is back and my life is the happiest it has ever been.
I’m a better mother, wife, friend and person. The novelty of the happiness my running has given me is something I cherish and nurture every single day.
My running has taken me to places I’d never imagined possible. I’m not talking about global locations, but places on a happiness scale. It has taken me to an inner peace I never thought possible and it all started with a couple of lamp posts.
Operation Move is the best thing that has happened to my life in a very long time.