Why I Run With Team Seleni

Recovering from my husband's suicide and reaching out to others

by Maria Paliou
May 9, 2017

I have run with Team Seleni for three years, and each step I have taken has helped me on the road to recovering from my husband's suicide.

I first ran with Team Seleni at Mudderella 2015, only three months after my children and I lost Jan, a wonderful father, husband, son, brother, friend, and physician. That year I ran to get away from everything. And when I finished, I felt able to breathe deeply for the first time since his death. I felt alive again.

The second year I ran with Team Seleni my focus was opening up to my friends and colleagues about Jan's illness and what my family had gone through – personally bringing the darkness of mental illness into the light. Speaking openly about it in a supportive community was very liberating and gave me the strength to continue adjusting to my new life as a single professional mother of two.

As I join Team Seleni once again for the 2017 Spartan Sprint, I am more at ease in my new reality and ready to fight for mental health on a larger scale.

My son recently asked why his father never asked for help, and I had to explain to him how the stigma surrounding mental disorders keeps not only individuals but also their families from recognizing the severity of their illness and asking for help.

This year I run to end stigma – for everyone.

I read once that "for a lot of people, post-traumatic growth is about a stronger sense of meaning in life – having a purpose, which is often about helping people in the way that you suffered, which not only gives your life meaning but gives your suffering meaning."

That is what this journey has done for me. I have learned that you can fall, but you can also rise. Belonging to a supportive, open community, like Team Seleni, eases your suffering and gives you the strength to give back, find meaning in your struggle, and grow. And that is what I have chosen to do. That is why I run.

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Maria Paliou

Maria Paliou, MD, is chief of endocrinology at Metropolitan Hospital Center. She will soon move to join the division of endocrinology at Lenox Hill Hospital and direct the Transgender Initiative Prorgam there. She lives in Manhattan with her twin boys. ​

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