Why I Run…

I have always enjoyed distance running.

I was in track in middle school and would have joined in high school if I didn’t have tennis or soccer going at the same time.

I ran the mile. I think I got 5th place at conference in 7th or 8th grade. That was good for me.

I remember when I was called up to get the ribbon during the awards ceremony, as I walked up there, I heard some kids saying “wow… she’s so ugly…”.

I also remember during track practice or at track meets, there were kids that would laugh at me when I ran past them and say hurtful things because I always breathed heavily when I ran. I had minor asthma as a kid. I still breathe heavily when I run. Let’s just say people know when I am treading behind them….

Kids can be wretched to one another. And it is difficult to protect a child from such horrible moments sometimes.

Although I remember those words very clearly, I also remember seeing that grin on my Track coach’s face as I approached him to grab my 5th place ribbon. He was so proud, and it was comforting. Sports for me helped me survive through a lot of that middle school and high school nonsense.

Normally when I jog, I blast my music so I wouldn’t hear my excessive breathing, but mostly, so I wouldn’t hear the kids laughing. (the only time I’m ever blasting music). The ruminations aspect from my OCD plays painful memories over and over again when triggered, as habitual or patterned cognitions. I was heavily bullied as a kid, in elementary, middle, highschool, and even during some moments in college and my graduate school years. Some of it may have been my fault. I guess I can be considered easy prey for the strong personalities that have major insecurities. There are a lot of bullies out there, disguised in many different types of masks.

Recently I heard a civil rights activist coin “bullying” as a “civil rights issue.” I wholeheartedly agree. And I will write more about why later, perhaps in another post.

So clearly, there are a lot of reasons why I care about mental health and especially mental health for children. For example, I experienced something very unfortunate and tragic as a child that has contributed to my PTSD, which came to me later in life, and stays with me today. We all have our personal stories that help us connect to things that matter to us, but that are also bigger than ourselves.

I don’t know much about children. But I do know that children internalize what happens to them and carry what they experience with them as they grow older. Sometimes it never leaves them.

We must remember that mental health cuts across all “socially constructed” boundaries from race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, political orientation, class, and more.

The UNRWA Gaza 5K run represents this very “intersectional” element for me. It is to help raise funds to support a community mental health program in Gaza, to improve access to mental healthcare for Palestinian refugee children. The Palestinian cause has always been something very near to my heart. Palestinians have suffered a great deal. Under occupied territories, some would call it an “identity crisis”. Amid the conflict and turmoil, many Palestinian children have been the primary victims.

The cross-cutting nature of Mental Health contributes in providing a critical lens, helping us look beyond the Isreali-Palestinian conflict as a political crisis and gives a sense of humanity to the “dehumanized” identity of the Palestinian people. No matter our politics, Palestinians along with Isrealis, have the right to exist, and the right to have something as basic as access to healthcare and mental healthcare.

This run has become something very important to me, personally. Not only because of how much I care about justice for Palestine, and mental health, but also, because something so powerful like this, helps you, yourself, who is suffering to be a part of something relevant to you, but at the same time, bigger than yourself.

I can go on and on, as some of you may know, but I must stop here so I can rest for tomorrow. I really hope as I end this blog post and wind down for the night, these reflections would be enough to let me sleep peacefully at least just this one night, so I’ll be up, fresh, and ready for the fight tomorrow morning!

I know in this particular run, in my 3rd consecutive year, people wouldn’t mind my heavy breathing so much. 🙂 I’ll be safe and welcome here.

We must continue to make progress. We must keep “moving for mental health.”

Peace and Blessings,


Warrior KQueen


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