Why I Run: Kelly Lewis


Kelly Lewis flying through a Disney race. (Is anyone else in awe of how her KT Tape and shoelaces coordinate with her wings and Team Sparkle skirt?)

Dimity and I first met Kelly Lewis, a Southern California mom of three, over Twitter but then we got to pal around with her in person at the recent BlogHer convention in San Diego. Kelly is on one of the two Hood to Coast teams of women bloggers sponsored by nuun, so think about her running through the night when you get up to pee at 2:33 a.m. on Friday night. And check her out on her blog.

I didn’t choose to be a runner. I think very few people actually choose to be runners.

We’re talking pre-dawn runs, ice baths, a constant aroma of Bengay, and blackened (and sometimes lost) toenails. A diet of energy bars, gels, and GUs. The oddest tan lines you’ve ever seen, thanks to the KT Tape I wear around my knees.

No, running chose me.

Looking back, I’ve run for different reasons, at different points in my life. I’ve run to mend a broken heart. To clear my head. To escape and to feel in control. After my father passed away, I ran to feel connected to him, to remember him, to be with him.

But most recently, I run because it’s cheaper than therapy. I run to survive. I run to combat postpartum depression.

I’ve never claimed to be super-mom. I’m the first to admit  I’m far from perfect. But, once upon a time, I at least felt like I had life figured out. These days PPD has thrown a wrench in the well-oiled-machine I once called my life, sending me into an out-of-control, downward spiral. Leaving me trapped in a hole so deep, sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be able to climb back out.

Kelly, and her pregnant belly, ready for a leg of 2010 The Relay.

Having babies is supposed to be a joyous occasion was. It’s just the aftermath, I’m not so sure about. When I think about it, it’s actually kind of funny. I’m surrounded by the chaos of three young children every single day, and yet I’ve never felt so alone.

For the past few years I’ve watched life happen as an observer, instead of an active participant. Slowly but surely, I’ve managed to shut everyone out, and burn every bridge along the way. Activities I used to love and hobbies I used to look forward to now just seem like burdens.

Not to mention, I now find myself totally and completely unmotivated, out-of-touch, and overwhelmed. I dread getting out of bed in the morning. I am constantly feeling like life has given up on me, or maybe I’m the one who has given up on life.

I’ve been living life in a deep, dark tunnel, constantly trying to reach that itty-bitty light I see peeping through. The (prescription) drugs have helped a bit, taking the edge off, and making the light a wee bit more obtainable. But running has helped me more. Running is the one thing I look forward to each and every day. It’s helped me reach out and actually grab that pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel.

Without even noticing, I’ve managed to build a fortress around myself, an incredible thing that rivals the Great Wall of China. I can’t expect it to come down overnight, can I? But, with a little help from my friends and a whole lot of running, this fortress of mine has slowly started tumbling down.

That is why I run: because it has the ability to break down walls and build bridges.

29 responses to “Why I Run: Kelly Lewis

  1. Your post really touched me too. I haven’t been one to experience PPD but still I could feel the raw emotion in your post and it made me want to reach out and hold your hand. I will be thinking of you think weekend. Keep running! I hope it brings your walls down brick by brick.

  2. I’m so glad you were willing to share and open up to an audience that may not be aware of the prevalence of PPD. Best wishes for your running and recovery.

    p.s. there is a whole crew of us out there willing to be supportive. Check out our blogs and Lauren’s #PPDChat on Twitter on Mondays.

  3. Loved this! So honest! Sometimes it’s easy to think that everyone elses lives are easier & running along smoothly (parden the pun). This is a nice reminder that we all face obstacles we have to muddle through. Happy running Kelly!

  4. I had my daughter back when PPD was still something you only heard about when things went terribly wrong. Thank you for saying it out loud. I run now for many of the reasons you stated – I just wish I would thought of turning to running back then to take me through some of those dark times.

    Keep taking care of yourself and run through those walls.

  5. I was never medically diagnosed with PDD but I felt it. Horribly, some days. Some days I still feel it. Thanks for talking about something that too few are willing to talk about.

  6. Thank you for sharing this. PPD is why I started running as well. I never would have made it through my children’s first years with out running. I’ve always said that I literally ran from the darkness into light. It wasn’t fast, but it worked.

  7. Kelly, that was beautifully written. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I know you will tear down that fortress!

  8. I went through a depression (not PPD) about eight years ago. I was losing my grandmother, slowly, and then lost my mother, suddenly, a few months thereafter. This was back in my pre-running days, but exercise did wonders for getting me out of my head for an hour a day and giving me some sense of accomplishment. It was the only thing that helped me to feel like I was moving forward rather than being sucked down into that dark whirlpool.

    Keep moving forward, Kelly. You just knocked down a wall and built a bridge to each of us. You’re getting there.

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. Your timing could not have been more perfect. I was just feeling the same way when I hit the sweet spot on my run last night. I wish you all the best in breaking down the walls you’ve built. Please know you’re not alone.

  10. As someone who battled depression in her 20s and 30s I appreciate Kelly’s insight and honesty. Plus, she looks damn good in a tutu! Keep up the running and enjoy this weekend’s HTC!

  11. Wow, what a brutally honest post. I have not suffered from PPD but, I too have 3 children and have only been running since having them! it keeps me sane and makes me a better Mother, wife and friend. Keep going and that light will begin to shine through at the end of the tunnel

  12. Was really moved by your post. I dont usually respond but could relate. 37 yrs ago I was a young mom of two, very unhappy with life, going through divorce. Didn’t see purpose for my life. Through a bible study I became a born again christian. This changed my life completely. Took all my stress and gave me purpose and value. After a spiritual change I knew I needed to make a change with my physical life so I started running and have been now for 37 yrs. God and running have gotten me through alot.

  13. Thank you for such a beautifully written, honest post. Take good care, Kelly. I hope running keeps lighting the way for you.

  14. Wow. I just had to comment because it sounds like I could have written this myself. I, too, started running when I faced PPD a few years ago. The irony is, I always hated running all of my life and swore to myself I couldn’t do it. But one night a few years ago I was facing a dark moment, and I decided to go for a walk. That walk turned into a “run” and I couldn’t believe how I felt afterwards. And a new journey began. It truly has become a “sanctuary” of sorts, and it has become my therapy. I truly feel like I’m a better mother, wife, and person because of it. Thanks for sharing your story… you are not alone!

  15. I’ve not had serious PPD, but it was bad enough for me and my husband that I know it’s extremely serious.
    The thing I remember most is the feeling of helplessness and apathy. You KNOW what’s going on but can’t control it. Thank you for your honest post, and good luck bringing down your Wall.

  16. This was beautifully written, so raw, honest and utterly true about the way PPD can suck you dry of all your motivation. My neighbor (stay-at-home mom of 3) seems to be overwhelmed with PPD these days and I am not sure how to help. I see all the signs – I offer help and she never accepts. I offer encouragement about motivation towards goals that she tells me about – but she lets them fizzle. I wish I could make a difference for her. I just don’t know what I can that will allow her to let her Great Wall down.

    1. Sometimes with PPD, even accepting help can seem like a lot of effort for someone who feels that life is sucking away all her inner strength and energy. Also, accepting help means knowing that you need help, and that means confronting the core of the problem, and THAT is an awful lot of work for some women who have PPD – working towards solving the root problem and moving forward is emotionally hard, and for someone with PPD, it may seem even harder than it would to you or me.

      You do your best by not giving up on her, periodically offering your company – even just sitting with her, and quietly watching to make sure the situation isn’t spiraling out of control – and letting someone know in the event that something happens to make you think she’s at risk. There’s nothing you can “do” per se…outside of waiting for her to take that first step and being there when she does.

        1. Wow, Sarah, I wish I had a neighbor/friend like you!!! I went through PPD with both my kids (2 yrs old and 3 months old) and I am just pulling out of the second round of PPD. What I really needed was for someone to hang out with me…no need to talk (because that is hard if you are in the throws of PPD) but just hang out. I had a friend who went through it who would call and just say “hi”…she would let me vent, complain, or just sit in silence. She would remind me that these are tough times, with little ones and a new born and that no one really has it all together then. For me, the toughest part was the isolation and feeling like I didn’t want to go out, talk to anyone etc. because I didn’t want to be a “downer”..having someone around who would say “I have heard about or read about PPD and it sounds horrible…you are so strong and brave and you will pull through” would have been great. Just hang out with her and let her know that you are there for her–that it doesn’t matter if she is crying, looks like crap, if the house is a mess, etc. I hated when people would say “Count your blessings” “just look around at your beautiful children”…I hated that. With PPD you know you are blessed etc. but you have a chemical imbalance in your brain and you can’t help the feelings of depression. It is so hard because you know you are blessed but can’t muster up any happiness. Again, isolating, scary, dark and horrible.

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