The Kandahar Marathon: Week Forty-Nine

The below was originally posted to markgudgel.com on Monday, December 12 2022. I’m sharing it here in the hopes of updating readers of itheewine and reaching a broader audience. As always, thank you for your readership. ~Mark

“Nothing makes one feel so strong as a call for help.”

~Pope Paul VI

This week I’d like to begin with two important reminders from previous posts. First, if you’re interested in continuing to receive my blog when it comes out in the future, please sign up at markgudgel.com as in 2023 I will cease to send weekly posts to my email list as a matter of course. Here is a link to sign up: https://subscribe.wordpress.com/

The second reminder is that, with only a few weeks left in 2022, if you’d care to make a donation to support the Refugee Empowerment Center, which recently merged with Immigrant Legal Services, please do so. Here’s that link: https://www.fanangel.com/campaigns/2315/story

This week, I want to be very forthcoming about a topic about which I’m often more inclined towards jocular quipping and self-deprecating deflection. As a high school English teacher, I often made it a point to introduce to my students the fact that I was in therapy. Marriage counseling has saved my marriage on at least two occasions, and counselors have helped me to deal with my personal struggles throughout much of my adult life.

While I understand that this doesn’t jive with the “shut up and teach” crowd, I have always viewed this sort of things as one of the most important things we teachers ever did. I wanted the young people in my care to know that they knew someone who benefitted from—no, needed, counseling. My hope was that if they were considering counseling, or weren’t sure what they needed or how they felt, they’d realize they had at least one caring adult in their lives with whom they could talk about it or ask questions.

The older I get, the more of my friends from years gone by openly speak about seeing their therapists. I like this for us, and for our culture. There’s no shame in needing help. I hope in time our culture gets to a place where it’s commonplace, though I know that seeing a therapist doesn’t mesh well with the toxic masculinity that drives a significant subsect of our nation. Perhaps in time this will change.

Where I used to, and still sometimes do, get a bit flippant about it, is when I talk about “other” therapies. If you’ve read this blog for long, you’ve read my explicitly and implicitly state that running is a form of therapy for me, and it is. That was thrust into the spotlight this week as I recovered from the St. Jude Marathon and thereby was deprived of that therapy. I ran a few times, but never more than five miles, and the absence of running in my life was certainly felt. This time of year—winter, not the holidays, depresses me. It’s cold and dark and, as much as I love the holidays with my children and the Christmas trees and playing chess by the fire, I long for summer. I’ve heard people say that’s because of the absence of Vitamin D which we get from the sun. Sonja suggested a special lamp. I suggested moving to San Diego.

But on this note, I wanted to go a step further today regarding the therapy thing. Not terribly long ago, to combat anxiety and depression, I began taking Lexapro, which is essentially Prozac as I understand it. I’ve found this to be quite helpful in stabilizing my mood. I’m more patient, at times more focused, and the voices in my head that once were only silenced by running long distances have largely subsided as well. I don’t miss them.

I bring this up in the same spirit in which I’ve often mentioned counseling. If anyone out there has those voices, has that anxiety, and wonders if there’s a medicine that might help, well, I found one that helped me. Beyond that I’m not that kind of doctor, but I am willing to speak about it if it might be of benefit to you. In the end, I think that taking Lexapro may be the thing that saves me should I ever lose running (god forbid).

 It’s difficult for me to accept that this journey, this Kandahar Marathon, will soon come to an end. That said, my running won’t. This year, with your help, I’ve run 2,175 miles, five marathons, and as many halves. Together we’ve raised well over $5,000 to help resettle Afghan refugees in Nebraska. Thank you. Take good care of yourselves—and of each other.

Mark

2 responses to “The Kandahar Marathon: Week Forty-Nine

  1. Beautifully said Mark. Sorry to hear that you needed therapy, but very glad that you got it and that it helped in so many ways.
    Running, really anything physical is good therapy, but often not a substitute for what is really needed. I think it takes a lot to admit that extra need. Forget the stigma. Forget what some may say or think. You’re mot weak for needing anything. You are weak only when you can’t/won’t admit to yourself what you do need. Take care. Stay well. Looking forward to future posts.

    Liked by 1 person

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