It happened like one of those perfect storms where everything goes wrong at the same time.
I was a few months into my first job as an Analyst in London, commuting back to Manchester every weekend for the obvious reason: a boyfriend. It took me a while to realize that the relationship was actually over because it didn’t end like the others. There was no big fight, no cheating scandal. Just two people’s lives moving fast in very different directions.
I was so excited about moving permanently to London. My best friend was living there and we couldn’t wait to start spending more time together. Even though we had been living in different cities, we would often visit and spend our holidays together. She had just spent the year abroad in Paris and Rio for her final year of uni. I visited her in Brazil over Christmas, where it was just the two of us wreaking havoc in Leblon, which I wrote about in my recent blog post Travel Stories: Once in a Lifetime Experiences.
That she would suddenly disappear from my life was the last thing I could have imagined. So you don’t get the wrong idea, nothing sinister happened to her, but she did one day disappear from my life entirely. One day, she simply stopped speaking to me and wouldn’t return my calls or texts. No explanation, no word, no warning, nothing. The way she did that was one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through, worse than any breakup. It felt like someone had ripped a hole in my heart. I pleaded and begged a thousand times for her to talk to me, to say something, tell me what I did. It was so confusing, frustrating, infuriating. I didn’t want to believe that she could do something like that.
At the time, I had no idea what was happening or why. Although eventually I came to accept it, some days were harder than others. Each morning, I would force myself to get up and go to work. While on the bad days, I burst into tears the moment I got home. I was also really lonely having just moved to London with no other close friends in the city. I felt depressed and didn’t want to do anything or see anyone.
Then one day I got this crazy idea to dry my eyes, put on my trainers, and just go for a run.
It was sometime in July in the middle of summer when the sun sets late in London. I knew nothing good would come from staying at home every night. Probably I’d call someone or do something I’d later regret, so running seemed like a good distraction and form of exercise. This was around the same time that trap music became the next big thing and I was obsessed. Lunice, Flosstradamus, TNGHT, I made a trap playlist on Spotify, pressed play and began my first run around the perimeter of Hyde Park. By the time I got home and had showered I was so exhausted I would watch one or two episodes of Sopranos and fall straight asleep.
I realized that by making myself tired and exhausted, it didn’t hurt as much. It felt like I could literally outrun my problems, freeing myself from them even if just for the night. By morning they would have caught up. I started looking forward to going home when I could put on my trainers and run. I stopped crying. The runs were hard, but I much preferred the physical pain of pulling air into my burning lungs than feeling sad and empty at home.
I ran no matter what, no matter how tired, how late, or how much it was raining.
After a few weeks, I started to notice significant changes. I started feeling better, a lot better. I was sleeping well, thriving at work, and feeling positive again. Like a dark black cloud had been lifted. As I got stronger, mind and body, I started making friends again. Eight weeks later, I met my husband.
Looking back, I realize what a dark time in my life that was. I was headed in either one of two directions, up or down. All I know is that I managed to find a healthy way to cope with loss and pain that might have saved my life. Although unintentional, running became a behavioral coping therapy. The alternative might have been to do something self-destructive. While running worked for me, everyone is different and there are also many different types of depression. It’s not always easy to know the difference between feelings of sadness or loneliness and something more serious. If you’re not feeling well and not getting any better, please seek help.
Several months passed before she finally made contact.
At first, she didn’t want to admit the truth but eventually explained she had cut me off because of her boyfriend. He had given her a choice, him or me. It was a form of manipulation on a level I thought only existed in movies. But it was too late. By then, almost a year had passed and life had moved on.
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