Deborah Eveniss found herself in a state of severe depression after the sudden passing of her sister. Having always been active and a runner, she found the grief incapacitating. Deb was unable to complete a run without completely breaking down into tears.
She comments, “The grief was so overwhelming that I thought I would never run properly again. I was so depressed and rarely left the couch.” Galston parkrun launched just at the right time for Deb. Her husband recognised that she needed something to help her regain control of her life, so he took her to the Galston parkrun launch in October 2016 and she loved it straight away. “The people were so friendly and warm, I felt an immediate lift from my fog of grief,” says Deb. And so began a healing journey for Deb, with parkrun playing a central role.
Since the launch of Galston parkrun, Deb has completed 33 parkruns mostly at Galston parkrun. But she has also done some impressive touristing to Port Macquarie, Forster, Orange, Bowral, Mount Penang and Wauchope. Deb’s PB currently sits at 24:42, but she acknowledges that parkrun is definitely not a race. “I have been part of running clubs before which have been good, but with parkrun, you don’t have to be the quickest to have a sense of achievement.” says Deb.
Deb also began volunteering soon after she started going to parkrun. She gained immense satisfaction from volunteering and has given most of the volunteer roles a go. “I have covered most roles but I especially like photographer as I love to capture everyone in their place, whether they love a jump shot, or are just in their own world of pain from pushing their bodies hard.” After only a few months, Deb was asked to join the Galston event team as a Run Director. “I was super keen to give it a go and I must say I really love it. Having to read the pre-run brief and being responsible for the smooth running of the run always feels a bit nerve-racking. But getting outside of your comfort zone is great for recovering from a depressed state.”
Deb’s whole family are also involved in parkrun. They have found going to parkrun to be a healing process for their grief. Deb’s husband and children go along to run, walk or volunteer. And her nephew who so sadly lost his Mum also participates. Deb proudly says, “He is a fabulous athlete and loves to come to parkrun with us and is always in the top 10. He also volunteers and loves being the photographer.” Deb’s sister and niece attend Orange parkrun and her 78-year-old Dad runs and volunteers at Port Macquarie. Deb comments about her Dad, “This has helped him with his grief as it was his beloved daughter who we lost.” Although the family attend different parkruns, they have a shared interest that has brought them together. Parkrun is now an important part of their lives.
Deb credits parkrun to helping her gain a better state of mental wellbeing. She says, “I have gained many friends, fitness, a sense of community and a relief from my grief and anxiety which is still at times very raw and can rear its ugly head without warning. I have made connections with people who are also dealing with their own unique issues and running is the common thread for us all. I am always promoting parkrun to all my friends and encouraging everyone to give it a go. When they do and love it, I get such a huge sense of happiness. I just love the whole philosophy of parkrun, especially the inclusivity and camaraderie.”
For Deb and her family, parkrun has added a little bit of light to their lives. Deb is an embodiment of the spirit of parkrun, she participates as part of the community and helps others with their mental health and fitness goals.
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