May 15 2018
Kathrine Switzer delivered the 2018 commencement address at her alma mater, Syracuse University on May 13, 2018.
Deerfield Beach, FL
In 2006, I gave birth to my second child. A few days later, I was having such extreme migraines that I went to the hospital. I woke up in the ER with no memory of my life. I didn’t know my husband, my children or myself. I couldn’t remember where I lived—let alone the basic elements of my previous career in interior design.
Not long after, I started having seizures. The sensation was like a burst of electricity, shooting up my head and through my brain. Darkness and fear clouded my entire life as I struggled hopelessly to regain my memory and lived in fear of impending seizures. Within a year, alcohol had become my crutch. I filled my days with drinking.
For years, I struggled with my mental health and substance abuse. Then, in 2011, I received Vagus Nerve Stimulation therapy, a new treatment that worked. With my seizures suddenly under control, I began to take control of my life. I started running. Soon the miles became replacements for drinks. In just a few months, I finished my first 10K.
Now I run every day for my own joy and serenity. Running has made me a better person, wife, mother and friend. While I never regained my memory completely, I’ve been able to make wonderful new memories with my family. Not a day goes by that I don’t put my headphones on and head out for a run—grateful that I’m still able to use my body. I have a life beyond my wildest dreams.
MY BEST ADVICE: NEVER GIVE UP.
Everyone gets discouraged, but I’ve learned to push myself. Running long distances does not happen overnight—and the work you put into covering those miles is a great metaphor for life.