What a heartfelt, moving, honest journey of self-discovery. I finished Running for My Life by Rachel Cullen in November and I am still feeling quite emotional right now thinking about it. I had to take a few moments to calm my heart before sitting down to write this. You see, there are a few ways I can write this review, but one thing is for sure, I cannot write this without being honest with myself, without looking back at my life journey so I can show you why this is a book you have to pick up in 2018.
This book follows Rachel’s life from childhood to present day. I love the way it is written with flashbacks intertwined with present days events. It follows her journey of being anxious, being self-conscious about her body, feeling self-loathing, feeling trapped, feeling not enough, feeling anything but normal, feeling depressed and not knowing what and how to be any more. But ultimately she found herself and her life again through running. Who would have thought it would be running that becomes Rachel’s joy and sanity? It is through running that she found her place in the world again.
Rachel’s words resonate with me so much that it is scary. She makes me look back at myself and find that silly old me who would, just like Rachel in her teens, do anything to feel normal at any price. You see, I am 5’5 now so never consider myself as “the tallest”. But growing up, I had always been the tallest among my female friends. In all the schools I went to, from 5 to 15, whenever we did any class activities, the teacher would line up the girls and boys separately by height. And I was the last one in the girl line. It was just my luck that the girls always had odd number and boys have even numbers. This meant I was always by myself without someone walking next to me when we went out, or without a partner when we did group activities. I felt so embarrassed, I felt so alone and not wanted. So, what did I do? I learnt to hunch my back, I learnt to bend my knees without being noticed, l learnt to fake sick, so I didn’t need to go out and walk by myself. Silly huh? That’s why I understand how Rachel felt, why she struggled, I have been there. It may be minor compared to what she has been through, but I understand.
This is what I love most about this book. It is so honest. There is no sugar coating. It is like Rachel has opened her heart and soul wide open for us to see. The ugliness, the despair. It is moving and intimate. How brave she must be to look back at all the heart breaks and write it down to let us experience her journey. Rachel is a nature writer. I love how she incorporates humour in her story telling. I was laughing out loud at times, feeling sad at others, but most of all I was rooting for her the whole way through. Keep going, you are enough, don’t give up!
I started the book feeling heavy-hearted but by the end, I came out feeling so uplifted that I had a huge smile on my face.
Running For My Life is out on 11 January and you can buy it from here. If you want to read an inspirational story, if you want to feel motivated to set a goal to change yourself this year, you should definitely read this.
Thank you Beth Eynon from Blink Publishing for sending me this advanced copy, I truly and thoroughly enjoyed this book.
For readers who enjoyed Alexandra Heminsley’s Running like a Girl and Bryony Gordon’s Mad Girl, Running For My Life is a funny, heartfelt and inspirational story of one woman’s marathon journey through mental illness.
Suffering from depression but desperate for ‘normality’, Rachel Cullen found herself in failing relationships, the wrong career and a reliance on alcohol and chocolate to get her through each day. Stuck in an endless cycle of mental misery, she put on a pair of old trainers.
She’d never been able to think of herself as a ‘runner’ before, and the first time she forced herself out the door, she knew it would hurt. Everywhere. She just didn’t realise how much it would heal her, too.