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Commentary

Published on October 19th, 2017 | by Flipside

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Runner Friend ODs on Endorphins

 

Edinburgh, UK – Friends and family of local woman Shirley McDonald were shocked and saddened to learn that McDonald, an avid runner, had OD’d on endorphins over the weekend. McDonald, a self-described ‘endorphin-junkie’ had just returned home from 6-mile jog when she collapsed in her flat, suffering from what doctors would later confirm was an endorphin overload.

 

“The signs were there,” says McDonald’s flatmate, Kathleen. “She’d wake up at 6 or 7 in the morning and go for a jog before work. Slowly, it became the first thing she did every morning, and often the last thing she did before bed. She’d come back looking flushed and energized—high as a fucking kite,” says Kathleen. “I should’ve seen it, I think I just didn’t want to acknowledge what was happening to her.”

 

Those who knew her remember McDonald as a warm, compassionate individual. But in the months leading up to her death friends described her behavior as increasingly alienating and antagonistic. “She suggested on several occasions that we train for a half marathon together. She said that going running would ‘make me feel so good,’ ” a close friend of McDonald’s told Flipside. “I just—I didn’t think it was my place to judge her for what she was doing, but stuff like that—it’s just not my thing, and I told her as much.”

 

McDonald’s parents tell Flipside that they are devastated, but that they are committed to spreading awareness about endorphin addiction. Mr. McDonald explains, “There’s a lot of stigma around endorphin addiction, because it’s not something people really want to talk about with their loved ones. You don’t want to hear about how far or for how long your daughter runs in the morning. You don’t want to hear about her cross-training regimen. You don’t want to hear about her protein-rich smoothies, or about her new resting heart rate, or her lean muscle. Nobody wants to have these conversations, but it’s important that we do, no matter how painful they might be. Because your daughter’s life might be on the line, like our Shirley’s was.”

 

Ms. McDonald’s death serves as a reminder that there are runners in every community desperately seeking solace in the lonely, utterly confounding masochism of the early morning jog. And what they need to heal is understanding, compassion and a firm, yet loving, slap in the face.

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