Thursday, 6 January 2011

Inspiring post about depression & running from Charlie Dark

What follows below is an amazing blog post from Charlie Dark, a musician (and runner) I follow on twitter (his twitter ID is @daddydark) which I thought deserved sharing in it's entirety, about running, depression, and what it all means for him.

"Yesterday saw the first RUNDem Crew gathering of the new year and a return to our new home from home the mysterious Mile End Stadium.  Situated about two to three miles east of the Nike 1948 sport it's a track in the middle of a park in the arse end of East London but it rocks and is most definitely one of London's best kept secrets.  This post however is not about the track or Run Dem Crew or any of the usual stuff that preoccupies my time these days.  It is however running related so if you find that boring then come back next week when normal random service resumes.

There have not been many bright moments in my life over the past decade and anyone who really knows me well outside of talking to me on twitter, dancing to a record I made or played or listened to my poems will know that I suffer from depression and have done for the best part of my life. I keep it well hidden but it manifests itself in weird ways and has a tendency to rear it’s head at strange and often inappropriate moments. On paper my life is pretty sorted with all of the trappings that come with hard work, passion and a thirst for keeping things moving. I’m lucky and consistently thank the spirits above for keeping me safe in this minefield we call life but as rapper Nas once remarked on the classic banger Whose World Is This ‘I need a new N*gga for this black cloud to follow because while it’s over me it’s too dark to see tomorrow’
My initial reason for taking up running was to improve my cardio and loose a few pounds before embarking on a national tour with my one man show ‘Have Box Will Travel’. Seeing as I was playing about twenty different characters and being directed by the ever energetic Benji Reid I needed something to ensure I was going to survive a year of hour long shows with mucho jumping about and physicality. Football meant the organising of flaky friends and I had no cash for the gym so running it was. What I never expected to find was the mental side of running and as a man who has never liked taking medication I was more than happy to swop the ‘happy pills’ for a more holistic approach to depression management. The buzz of being outside in the open air devoid of mobile phone and any responsibilities was a blessing I shall never forget. But then the running became a job and with the success of the Run Dem Crew suddenly this private thing that I used as a way of escaping the world suddenly brought it’s own pressures. In a nutshell back to square one but this time stubbornly refusing to seek help or go back on medication again. I just don’t like the thought of taking a pill and waiting for my mood to lighten knowing that to work it’s magic it’s playing camera tricks with my brain. 
In 2010 I met four people who I can safely say changed my life around for the better and helped me chase away a particularly large dark cloud that had been following me around for the best part of the year. They know who they are so need no mentions here but despite their love, advice and encouragement the final part of the jigsaw was still not falling into place. Deep down I still felt slightly empty with a big hole where my heart should have been.
When you get to my age and position it’s difficult to find anyone willing to share your woes with. In general people just think you are moaning or ungrateful for the cards you have been dealt and it can be a lonely world dealing with the demons all by yourself. So I run for the endorphin rush that chases the clouds away and when that doesnt work I run harder.
In the tail end of last year I signed up to run the London Marathon and set myself some new targets of a PB of 3.45 and a sub 1.45 half marathon. In order to achieve these times it dawned on me that I ‘d need to really buckle down to training and completely overhaul my approach to food and what I put into my body. I’d never thought of my body as a machine before but through research I’ve concluded that everything I put into my body will have an effect on how I run on the day of the marathon therefore it’s time to fix up and start eating properly.
Food and my body have always had a perculiar relationship, as a child I was mad skinny and the butt of many a joke and even my family were on my case about my lack of weight. Once I left home I just started eating nonsense in a bid to put on weight and believe me it worked it a big way. I was never crazy overweight but I was definitely carrying a little hand bag around my middle.
Anyway enough of the back in the day stories, with a new year dawning many people are making resolutions to hit the park and get fit . Being three years ahead of the pack my fitness is already there so the question is what next. The whole diet and intensive training schedule has been freaking people out with regular questioning of why I’ve got so hardcore of recent on the running. The answer is a simple why not? I just want to know how fast I can go with the correct preparation. Contrary to popular belief I am not obsessed or losing my mind.  Instead running has replaced a whole heap of other forms of expression for me. I used to live for the DJ moment, loved making beats in the studio and collecting sneakers like a millipede. I figured that if I could rock a crowd with a mic or a turntable then I could be a someone but somewhere along the line it just didn’t seem as important to me anymore.
Running is the only thing I have in my life that I am in control of. I am no longer at the mercy of how good the records are that I play or how a poem is received . If I have a bad run it’s because I didn’t prepare myself appropriately but if I have a great run I know it’s because I gave it my all and really pushed myself to cross the finish line. On Tuesday evening I ran with Run Dem Crew and ran the best run of my life, 7 miles dead with a target pace of sub 7 and a half minute miles which is exactly what I have been training to achieve. Indeed the best legal high I have ever experienced and a far safer option than being described ‘Happy pills’ by the doctor. For the first time in a long while I felt free and unburdened by pressure. I wasn’t running away from life but running towards my future with a smile on my face and chasing upside down rainbows. All in all a great start to the year and a definite highlight for the targets ahead.
To be honest I’ve got no idea why I’m telling you this but I just felt it was something to be shared. So if you want to know why I run I’ll simply say this.
I run for the challenge
To remind myself that I am not immortal
For the moment of indecision when you body wills you to stop and your mind wonders if it can carry on
I run for those who will never be free
I’m not running from my past I’m running towards a future where the black clouds can’t follow
But most of all I’m running for me
Over and Out Charlie Dark"

1 comment:

  1. I hope Charlie keeps running, I do think there is no better high than the kind he describes. I'm lucky enough not to suffer from depression, but I do get down spending so much time on my own (writing) but those running induced endorphins sort it out every time. Thanks for posting.