Over the past few weeks I have been foreshadowing to a day and moment where I somehow knew I was hopefully going to obtain some strength again to help me a little out of the darkness that has been the last month, and really, the last two years. Some of the full story is on my Instagram, but on Sunday I finally ran the Toronto Marathon after contemplating it for probably the last three years. While I have certainly ran long-distance runs alone over the past few years, and a bit these past few months since January to train, the last time I formally ran with others was in 2012 when I ran the half-marathon, which I half-assed and did not really train at all for. That was a long time ago. But running with others is always motivating, as you see individual personal struggles and triumphs in each person’s face as you run side-by-side, as they pass you, or vice versa. Anyhow, the euphoric feelings from the day have already left me and I have been drawn back to numbness, but the mental strength and willpower I managed to accumulate on Sunday gave me a rush that I have not quite felt in a really long time. It’s almost like my numbness disappeared just long enough to make me feel alive again.
Running a marathon has always been on my bucket list, an on-and-off wish that started in undergrad in Waterloo when I began running in the first place to lose weight. I have never ever been a fast runner (and I doubt I ever will be – which is why I avoid 5 and 10Ks ), but I knew that I always had some sort of willpower to run long-distance. So, it’s definitely a surreal thing a decade later to know that I finally finished one.
I think, what was also surreal for me, is that I did it while feeling mentally broken, and the days leading up to it all the way to the start line, I felt nothing but heightened anxiety and panic. The night before, I broke down to JH certain that I was not going to finish, and that I was going to fail. He told me that if it was going to make me feel this way, I should just stay at home and try again when I have stabilized more. But that would never be an option for me. Any of these options – failing, not finishing, bowing out – would have ended up in me feeling depressed again. I couldn’t imagine how big of a low I would have sank into. But in the end, all the ‘negative odds’ seemed to go away. There was no rain, and the cold and wind was manageable. All I could worry about was my sedating drugs (specifically Seroquel) making me feel sluggish / ‘zombie’ like it does in my every day. But cold wind, moving constantly and energy drinks all do wonders when you are not sitting all day or trying to survive to stay awake through meetings.
Sunday was no doubt though an emotional experience through and through. For the hours I ran, in between concentrating on pot holes and puddles on the ground, and the people in front of me, flashes of the past two years circulated in my mind non-stop in a continuous loop against all the Radiohead I chose to listen to. All the memories were there – the incredibly lonely Asia trip, the suicide attempts, the superficial cutting of my wrist to feel pain, the breakdowns, the struggling and frustrating conversations with doctors about whether I am diagnosed bi-polar or with borderline personality disorder, writing goodbye letters because I felt ‘ready to go’, staring everyday at my slashed-up wrist and wanting to add to it, struggling with all my friendships and relationships, the emptiness, the pointlessness, the numbness, and every single dark memory that has been the last two years. Some memories made me run faster in anger, and some I felt, held me back in defeat and sheer sadness, putting a 1000 pound weight over my head.
Holding back tears was a struggle through 90 percent of the run because I knew that if I broke down, someone would make me stop because they would think I was sick. So, like every cry spell at work where I have had to accumulate and hold back tears, I held and held my tears, and then finally broke down without a care at the finish line. It didn’t make me feel weak though; I just needed to release all the emotions. And getting myself to JH and crying in his hug kept that release going. I think deep down in some ways, it would have been amazing to have my friends and family at the finish line, or at some street corner along the way. But I did not tell anybody, because I wanted to push and encourage myself through this completely on my own. JH had to know because disappearing at 5:30AM in the morning for the entire morning would have been quite the intricate web of lies. And well, having one familiar face was certainly comforting when approaching the finish line. I was all too grateful and thankful that he was there for me as my support system.
The finish line really did not feel real at all. It was a like a mirage. I felt like I had been running for so long. I couldn’t feel my body, and I was just relying on being strong for myself so that I could walk away from this feeling completely strong. I wanted nothing but to walk away from this feeling strong, even for the one day. And as I said in my last post, and in my Instagram story, I didn’t want my mental health problems or drugs to define me. I just wanted to do something incredibly positive for myself and rise to the challenge for the one day; a type of experience I would hope to share with anyone feeling the same issues and broken feelings that I feel literally every day of my life. And while I know, every day is still going to be a struggle here on and out, having these ‘single’ days every once in a while makes it all worth it in the end.
Because of my anxiety and my dire need to sleep after the run, I did not bake all weekend. I otherwise went home and watched The Handmaid’s Tale under my blanket. I did however make these smoothie-like tarts late last week. JH finished the last one today, actually.
The Not-So-Secret Secrets:
White Chocolate Blackberry Banana Mousse Tarts
- White Chocolate Blackberry Banana Mousse
- 2.5-3 cups whipped cream
- 1 sheet gelatin
- 1 cup white chocolate
- 1 cup blackberry
- 1 cup banana
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Heat the cream, blackberry, banana and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the fruit becomes mushy. Do not let the milk over boil. Add the gelatin.
- Pour over the white chocolate, stirring constantly.
- Using an immesion blender or Vitamix, process until smooth.
- Divide evenly into circular silicone moulds that match up in size to your tart moulds.
- Freeze overnight.
- Mix the pastry cream with the salted caramel and bananas.
- Spread evenly into the tart base.
- Unmould the mousse on top.
- Garnish with mint and blackberries.