This week we have been given the following nugget from Brene Brown to ponder:
Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
As someone who has written openly about their mental health and struggles with depression on many occasions, the concept of "Darkness" is one I am all too familiar with; and that darkness takes many forms.
First the is the darkness of mood; that feeling of oppressiveness that shrouds every aspect of my life. It goes far beyond unhappiness, reaching towards despair; a longing for the darkness of oblivion.
Then there is the darkness of thought; the negativity that is never far away. It forms itself in the belief that one is without worth, a failure. It tells us that there is no point trying as we won't succeed and that that will only make us feel worse. It is the ever present thought that we are always wrong, our opinions don't count, that no one even takes our illness seriously (assuming the accept that it is an illness at all).
These combine to create the darkness of spirit. I have, on a number of occasions, described depression in very melodramatic terms as "the cancer of the soul". It is pervasive, it becomes all encompassing, it permeates every fibre of our being until it is part of who we are, almost a fifth DNA base that is an inseparable part of our being.
So, how do I find my way back to the light?
My teenage self probably would not recognise me now. That awkward youth who did everything he could to get out of athletics and, in particular, cross-country running, would almost be astounded to know that over three decades later I run 3-4 times a week, covering combined distances of 25-40km over those runs. The idea that I would run half-marathons would be beyond adolescent me's comprehension. And yet, here I am; that is what (almost) 50 year-old me does.
The link between mood and exercise is well documented but it is only recently that I have come to understand that. Many runners talk about the "high" they get after a run, particularly if they've achieved a new landmark, e.g. a personal best time for a given distance, completing a new distance for a first time, taking part in an event they have trained for; all of these can provide that endorphin rush which at least one of my running friends describes as being almost orgasmic.
Now, I admit that, this isn't particularly "kink related" per se, but it does join together in that, before I even think about any form of sexual activity, I need to be in the right head-space for it. I don't find exercise sexy or sexual in any way, but anything that helps me keep my mood at a level where I am capable of being aroused sexually is a good thing. And, let's not forget, that done "right", sex itself can provide a good cardio workout. Although, having said that, and based on the evidence of my sports tracker, the idea that a shag burns anywhere near as many calories as a 5-mile run is, I'm afraid to say, definitely an urban myth.