Posted by: Jack Hope | Wednesday August 22, 2012

Running Against Depression 5: Personal Accountability

Well, thus far, hitting the reset button on this running program has proven to be the sensible strategy in getting back on track. Since starting it again I have been able to get onto the recommended training regiment and keep up with it, without the same kind of stress and struggle that I was having before. While it’s still early, there seems to be reason to be optimistic about the turn this is taking.

Thinking about this, in conjunction with my recent conversation with my parents about attending my friend Angela’s wedding and the venting which followed in the immediate previous post about my current frustrations regarding my situation has given me some new insights. Although with a little perspective it seems a touch silly that a conversation in which my parents enthusiastically agreed with and encouraged me to pursue the choice I had made, could trigger a veritable torrent of complaint about my own lack of autonomy, the point does still stand.

My parents are to be commended for how they are handling it, and not just because they agreed with me on something that mattered a great deal to me. They have consistently opted to give me the benefit of the doubt, although often including their own opinion and thoughts. Given my circumstances, I would be hard pressed to ask for a better arrangement in this regard.

My life is being run by a three person committee until such time that I can manage it myself.

What does all of this have to do with running? Well, one of the reasons why this three person committee is running my life is because right now I am not able to. Clinical Depression, as with all things it touches, makes it agonizing to even make personal decisions or tackle difficult matters directly and head on.

More than that though, I am discovering that my long and difficult fight with Depression has left me with under developed personal skills that many of my contemporaries take for granted. On things like perseverance, consistency, and decisiveness, I’ve always lagged beyond others.

But those things, I’m learning aren’t just qualities being suppressed by the experience of Clinical Depression, they are also skills that are developed over a lifetime and my own development has been slowed down considerably, perhaps even undone at times.

The previous two weeks of struggle and disorganization really demonstrated where I need to focus as I engage in what amounts to a massive re-programming job, changing a lifetime of ingrained habits in order to create the conditions for new successes in the future. That’s okay though, it’s a lot easier for me to change the way I think now than it ever has been.

Running then, provides a great way to begin to apply what I’ve learned and start working to change these internal thought patterns and begin building up those intangible but necessary skills.

One of the ways to build a new habit is to create a sense of accountability, of having to report in some way what you’re doing. This encourages you to, obviously, do what you’re supposed to be doing for this habit. The reason that my parents currently have a 2/3 majority vote on the Committee for the Operation of Jack’s Life is that being accountable, to myself and to others, I have struggled with.

And so this also becomes a great opportunity to improve my ability to be accountable, particularly to myself. Ultimately, we answer to ourselves first and foremost. I’m the only person in the universe who has to spend every day for the rest of my life with myself.

When we talk about politics or government and we talk about ensuring accountability, another word that always turns up is transparency. It’s a lot harder to hold someone to account when you don’t know what they’re doing. Secrecy is lousy for accountability.

Since transparent skulls are not current on the market (paging Captain Boday) there’s no way for me to show you what’s happening inside my head beyond telling you about it. So that also becomes part of my accountability.

Many of you may have noticed that I usually tweet after completing a day’s run. I am going to continue doing that and aim to do it more consistently. I am also going to make ‘Running Against Depression’ my regular Wednesday post for at least the duration of this program and possibly a lot longer. I seem to feel the need to write about Running right about the middle of the week, although that probably stems from my ‘running week’ generally running from Thursday to the following Wednesday.

Some of these posts will probably be much shorter updates rather than full size posts like this one. Obviously, it will depend on what I have (or don’t) to report come each Wednesday. I’ll also post the week’s upcoming schedule.  With this program I’m given four training days which can occur anywhere in the week. So far, I’m finding I prefer to group them together, but we’ll see how that goes.

So here is the upcoming schedule for Week 2 of this program:

Day One: Interval Training

Day Two: Interval Training

Day Three: Interval Training

Day Four: Cross Training

You can find the full program here: Run Your First 5K I receive e-mails once a week telling me what to do.

I’m hoping that this will help me see this gram through to completion. Perhaps being accountable to the Internet isn’t the best way to do this, but to date, the Internet and online community has been the single best resource I’ve had to fight this Depression outside of an actual psychiatrist.

As always, your thoughts and feedback are welcome. Now begins week 2.

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Responses

  1. I’m not a runner, but I wish you success. “the Committee for the Operation of Jack’s Life” – lol, I love that! Humor is my favorite depression-killer :)

  2. Aside from the running I could have written a very similar post. I wonder if most depressives suffer with the same, ‘ under developed personal skills that many of my contemporaries take for granted. On things like perseverance, consistency, and decisiveness, I’ve always lagged beyond others.’

  3. During one of my worst years, I was not able to physically do what it takes to keep myself healthy. I could barely get out of bed. Accountability is a true principal. A circle of church friends surrounded me in love and help. Each morning someone whould show up in the morning to make sure I had eaten something for breakfast and then take me on a short walk. (It was actually a shuffle) Then at noon someone would come to eat lunch with me and do some sort of activity to get my brain thoughts going. One of them tried to teach me piano but that was no good. :) Doing this for me was a huge blessing. It kept me out of the hospital and helped me realize that I had people who loved and cared about me. It is so easy to fall into the depressive thoughts that tell you no one loves you because you aren’t worth loving. This reinforced that I did have friends and family that would not abandon me. I would not have followed through with getting out of bed and eating if I was not having someone show up and making sure I was taking care of myself. It was extremely hard but being accountable was important at that time. Nice post.


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