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Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink (Depression and Anxiety Therapy, Bipolar) Paperback – May 15, 2019

4.5 out of 5 stars 474 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This book, Depression Hates a Moving Target, illustrates how Nita went from over-the-top underconfident and prone to catastrophizing to strong and self-assured. She credits this to running and shows you just how this happened.”

—JulienMadBlogger

 “Funny, poignant, touching, and inspiring...Nita Sweeney’s tale of finding the strength to do what seemed impossible should encourage all of us to get up off that couch and do something to make our lives better! Nita Sweeney is a terrific writer, and her story is irresistible.”

―Sean W. Murphy, National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Creative Writing, author of the Hemingway Award-winning novel The Hope Valley Hubcap King and The Time of New Weather

“This is a book I think any runner will like and especially beginner runners and those who run and who have or currently battle for positive mental health. Well written!”—No Paine, No Gain “Thrillingly good―an acutely observed memoir that reads like a well-plotted novel. At times funny, gut-wrenching, and frequently both. Nita mesmerizes with tales of the unique life hacks and circuitous corrections she used to cope and triumph. Vibrant, heartfelt, weird, and wonderful, Depression Hates a Moving Target will inspire readers to push through challenges to make what seems impossible real.”

―Lisa Haneberg, writing coach, author of the novel Toxic Octopus, and author of more than a dozen nonfiction books including High Impact Middle Management

“Inspiration comes in many forms, and from all sorts of people. Nita’s story, told in an open, honest way, will pull at your heartstrings, and hopefully will get you pulling on your shoestrings and following in her footsteps, whether you walk, jog or run!”

―Darris Blackford, finisher of Badwater 135 Ultramarathon and over two hundred marathons and race director of Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon and 1/2 Marathon

“Nita Sweeney's Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink is compelling. The memoir had me in tears at times, and rejoicing at others. The book (and Nita’s life) is a roller-coaster ride, one of the big ones at the super amusement parks, not the teeny ones from our childhood. Wow! The memoir brought back memories of bad form, struggling to make the distance, and that blackout for the last 5 miles of a first marathon. Well written, the book is evocative, engaging, inspirational and compulsive reading. I could not put it down. And what an amazing journey! Nita’s strength shines through, as does her struggle and humanity.”

―Paul Nash, ultramarathoner, two-time Comrades Marathon Finisher, Two Oceans Finisher, Boston Qualifier, Marathon PR 3:30

“When we first meet her, Nita Sweeney is overweight, depressed, nearly suicidal. She has run a bit in the past, but things always crashed down around her. This time she sets out again, afraid to tell her friends (because who wants to fail in their friends' eyes?), assisted only with one of those plastic kitchen timers and a dog, Morgan, who walks faster than Nita runs. The voice in her head says, ‘You can't do this,’ to which Nita replies, ‘But I am doing it. Please shut up.’ Runners like Nita Sweeney don't win fame and glory, but there are far more of them than there are Olympians. And their stories are just as inspirational. Yes, Sweeney somehow works up to the marathon distance, but it sure doesn't come easy. It takes everything she's got, especially when dark clouds gather overhead. And everything a husband, sister, and great friends can provide. Plus, one more thing, Morgan, the dog. He's as good a coach and training partner as any runner has ever had.”

―Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon and author of Run ForeverFirst Ladies of Running, and The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life

“Nita Sweeney's vibrant memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target, not only captures the runner's mind, but shows how practice—whether in running, writing, or meditation—and finding a community can transform a life. Sweeney charts the ups and downs of her journey with searing and refreshing honesty. Her story will resonate with anyone looking for a way out of darkness.”

―Natalie Goldberg, bestselling author of Writing Down the Bones and Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home

“Nita's brave, honest book imparts hard-won lessons on using running to combat depression.”

―Scott Douglas, contributing writer for Runner's World and author of Running Is My Therapy

“Nita Sweeney's Depression Hates a Moving Target is a gallant new memoir about persistence in the face of long odds. If you have an interest in long-distance running, this book has you covered. Dogs? Ditto. A love story? Absolutely! Nita Sweeney not only found a way to survive crippling depression, she created a way to thrive. The love of a good man, the love of a good dog, the love of running, and above all the love of oneself. Come along on this inspiring journey. It goes the distance and then some.”

―Lee Martin, author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Bright Forever

“This inspiring and warm-hearted memoir proves that no dream is beyond our reach if we just take one step at a time. I cheered for Nita Sweeney as she describes with unflinching honesty her transformation from depressive couch potato to marathon runner, and I laughed out loud at her self-deprecating humor and her conversations with Morgan the dog, her trusty sidekick on the running trail.”

―Tania Casselle, award-winning writer and journalist, author of Insider’s Guide to Albuquerque

“Nita’s memoir is an inspiring and engaging read. It's a great narrative on how moving your body can actually transform your brain! If you struggle with depression or anxiety or are just stuck in a rut and need to make a healthy change in your life, you should definitely give this book a read!”

―Richard C. Davis PhD, BCN, psychologist, and brain trainer

“The 411: anyone who has faced depression or struggled with motivation will see themselves in Nita Sweeney, a self-proclaimed couch potato who starts her unlikely journey to becoming a marathoner by slipping on sneakers, leashing up her doggo, and jogging with him just sixty seconds at a time. Humble and refreshingly honest, Sweeney documents her incremental accomplishments and setbacks while weaving in a personal narrative of loss, insecurity, and breakthrough. Why you'll love it: Like sitting across from an old friend over coffee, Sweeney's memoir is the gentle nudge we all need now and again to get off our ass and start moving.”

—Reebok Blog

“If it isn’t hard enough to get out the door and exercise, tack on some serious, chronic depression and see what happens! Nita Sweeney’s Depression Hates a Moving Target is a poignant tale of one woman’s triumphant efforts―first small and then epic―to climb her way back to some kind of life worth living. Reeling from the deaths of five family members, including her twenty-four-year-old niece, and coping for years with bipolar disease and depression, Nita becomes inspired by the social media posts of a high school friend, hauls her forty-nine-year-old body out of bed, leashes up her yellow lab Morgan, and heads out the door for a jog. She’s overweight and out of shape and starts out with a kitchen timer in her hand, running for sixty seconds. Exhausted yet exhilarated, Nita keeps this up day after day until she stands in front of a mirror saying, ‘I am a runner.’ Soon, she's happy to spend more money on running gear than on any other piece of clothing in her closet. There are so many things I love about this book. First, the book is beautifully well written. Nita’s narrative is not just about her but about the people around her and soon you begin to care deeply about Nita, her family, and of course her dog. But for me, as an older runner, I connect with Nita’s efforts to be part of the running community, which, in my experience, is incredibly welcoming to runners of all ages. Like me, Nita is a back-of-the-pack marathon finisher who’s always got a ‘race’ coming up. As she trains and runs with Fleet Feet Sports in Columbus, Ohio, pushing through the social anxiety many older runners may feel around younger, thinner, fitter women runners, she finds her group, sticks to a training schedule, and without too much awareness or even effort and to her own amazement, is exercising nearly every day. Nita’s careful to note that running is not a substitute for treatment such as medication and therapy for her mental health conditions. It's just one more tool in the toolbox to help her cope and feel hopeful in spite of everything else. If you’re stuck on the couch and doubting whether you could ever enjoy exercising, even if you know it would be good for you, you’ll be inspired by Nita’s story and leash up your own dog, if you have one, and lace your sneakers to head out the door for a walk or run. And maybe grab a kitchen timer on your way out!”

―Carolee Belkin Walker, author of Getting My Bounce Back: How I Got Fit, Healthier, and Happier (And You Can, Too)

“Nita’s story is a gift, a reminder that you can return to something you used to enjoy. You start with a single step. Even if it means running with a kitchen timer on a secluded street in the neighborhood. Even if it means telling your brain to stop saying 'You’re old and fat.' Even if it means that you have to continually fight to get up and just do. Reading Nita’s story continuously reminded me of my own journey. Even though our goals are different (because let’s admit it, running a marathon is not one of my goals) her story is inspiring to appreciate the small victories along the way to the big goal. Through her grief and loss of loved ones, Nita kept running. Through her fears and daily problems, Nita kept running. Through the health problems and reminders of the past, Nita kept running. The journey continues, teaching us something new each day we attempt to reach the big goal. I can keep running.”

―Suzanna Anderson, editor of The Magnolia Review

“There’s hope and help on the track: anyone who has struggled with depression knows the ways the mind can defeat you. However, it is possible to transform yourself with the power of running. You may learn that you can endure more than you think, and that there’s no other therapy quite like pavement beneath your feet. Depression Hates a Moving Target is a witty and poignant story of rediscovery. Whether you’re born to run or just looking for rebirth, you will be inspired by the powerful story of one woman—and her dog, cheer on Nita as she endures the challenges of a marathon and a mind in turmoil, and discover the power of running to overcome obstacles.”

—Therapy for Latinx

“If you're starting your running journey, Sweeney's book—with some great practical tips and resources at the end—may be the running friend you need.”

—Shel Graves Emporium

“Nita Sweeney's courage and grit shine through her candid memoir of 'running out' depression. This book has the power to inspire countless others as they pace themselves to mental health.”

―Aimee Liu, author of Gaining: The Truth About Life After Eating Disorders

”I am more of a ‘waddler’ than a ‘jogger,’ so when a friend suggested I read this to lift my spirits, I was skeptical. But this story of how one woman outran depression was inspiring! Overwhelmed and overweight, 49-year-old Nita Sweeney barely has the energy to leave the house, let alone go for a jog. But one day, with her dog, Morgan, she puts one foot in front of the other. Nita’s story reminds us that shifting our perspective means finding our passion, and chasing it, one step at a time.”
—Kristina Mastrocola, Senior Editor,
First for Women, in ”7 books we're loving now“

“Nita describes running as one of her main mental health tools and says it helped her achieve a lifelong dream, publishing a book: Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink. ‘I can’t imagine not having some form of movement in my life,’ she says. ‘I’ve gone from a woman who wanted to die to one who wants to not only live, but thrive.’ ”

—Nicole Pajer, Woman’s Day Magazine, Aug./Sept. 2022

Review

“This book, Depression Hates a Moving Target, illustrates how Nita went from over-the-top underconfident and prone to catastrophizing to strong and self-assured. She credits this to running and shows you just how this happened.” ―JulienMadBlogger

 “Funny, poignant, touching, and inspiring...Nita Sweeney’s tale of finding the strength to do what seemed impossible should encourage all of us to get up off that couch and do something to make our lives better! Nita Sweeney is a terrific writer, and her story is irresistible.” ―Sean W. Murphy, National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Creative Writing, author of the Hemingway Award-winning novel The Hope Valley Hubcap King and The Time of New Weather

“This is a book I think any runner will like and especially beginner runners and those who run and who have or currently battle for positive mental health. Well written!”―No Paine, No Gain “Thrillingly good―an acutely observed memoir that reads like a well-plotted novel. At times funny, gut-wrenching, and frequently both. Nita mesmerizes with tales of the unique life hacks and circuitous corrections she used to cope and triumph. Vibrant, heartfelt, weird, and wonderful, Depression Hates a Moving Target will inspire readers to push through challenges to make what seems impossible real.” ―Lisa Haneberg, writing coach, author of the novel Toxic Octopus, and author of more than a dozen nonfiction books including High Impact Middle Management

“Inspiration comes in many forms, and from all sorts of people. Nita’s story, told in an open, honest way, will pull at your heartstrings, and hopefully will get you pulling on your shoestrings and following in her footsteps, whether you walk, jog or run!” ―Darris Blackford, finisher of Badwater 135 Ultramarathon and over two hundred marathons and race director of Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon and 1/2 Marathon

“Nita Sweeney's Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink is compelling. The memoir had me in tears at times, and rejoicing at others. The book (and Nita’s life) is a roller-coaster ride, one of the big ones at the super amusement parks, not the teeny ones from our childhood. Wow! The memoir brought back memories of bad form, struggling to make the distance, and that blackout for the last 5 miles of a first marathon. Well written, the book is evocative, engaging, inspirational and compulsive reading. I could not put it down. And what an amazing journey! Nita’s strength shines through, as does her struggle and humanity.” ―Paul Nash, ultramarathoner, two-time Comrades Marathon Finisher, Two Oceans Finisher, Boston Qualifier, Marathon PR 3:30

“When we first meet her, Nita Sweeney is overweight, depressed, nearly suicidal. She has run a bit in the past, but things always crashed down around her. This time she sets out again, afraid to tell her friends (because who wants to fail in their friends' eyes?), assisted only with one of those plastic kitchen timers and a dog, Morgan, who walks faster than Nita runs. The voice in her head says, ‘You can't do this,’ to which Nita replies, ‘But I am doing it. Please shut up.’ Runners like Nita Sweeney don't win fame and glory, but there are far more of them than there are Olympians. And their stories are just as inspirational. Yes, Sweeney somehow works up to the marathon distance, but it sure doesn't come easy. It takes everything she's got, especially when dark clouds gather overhead. And everything a husband, sister, and great friends can provide. Plus, one more thing, Morgan, the dog. He's as good a coach and training partner as any runner has ever had.” ―Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon and author of Run ForeverFirst Ladies of Running, and The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life

“Nita Sweeney's vibrant memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target, not only captures the runner's mind, but shows how practice―whether in running, writing, or meditation―and finding a community can transform a life. Sweeney charts the ups and downs of her journey with searing and refreshing honesty. Her story will resonate with anyone looking for a way out of darkness.” ―Natalie Goldberg, bestselling author of Writing Down the Bones and Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home

“Nita's brave, honest book imparts hard-won lessons on using running to combat depression.” ―Scott Douglas, contributing writer for Runner's World and author of Running Is My Therapy

“Nita Sweeney's Depression Hates a Moving Target is a gallant new memoir about persistence in the face of long odds. If you have an interest in long-distance running, this book has you covered. Dogs? Ditto. A love story? Absolutely! Nita Sweeney not only found a way to survive crippling depression, she created a way to thrive. The love of a good man, the love of a good dog, the love of running, and above all the love of oneself. Come along on this inspiring journey. It goes the distance and then some.” ―Lee Martin, author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Bright Forever

“This inspiring and warm-hearted memoir proves that no dream is beyond our reach if we just take one step at a time. I cheered for Nita Sweeney as she describes with unflinching honesty her transformation from depressive couch potato to marathon runner, and I laughed out loud at her self-deprecating humor and her conversations with Morgan the dog, her trusty sidekick on the running trail.” ―Tania Casselle, award-winning writer and journalist, author of Insider’s Guide to Albuquerque

“Nita’s memoir is an inspiring and engaging read. It's a great narrative on how moving your body can actually transform your brain! If you struggle with depression or anxiety or are just stuck in a rut and need to make a healthy change in your life, you should definitely give this book a read!” ―Richard C. Davis PhD, BCN, psychologist, and brain trainer

“The 411: anyone who has faced depression or struggled with motivation will see themselves in Nita Sweeney, a self-proclaimed couch potato who starts her unlikely journey to becoming a marathoner by slipping on sneakers, leashing up her doggo, and jogging with him just sixty seconds at a time. Humble and refreshingly honest, Sweeney documents her incremental accomplishments and setbacks while weaving in a personal narrative of loss, insecurity, and breakthrough. Why you'll love it: Like sitting across from an old friend over coffee, Sweeney's memoir is the gentle nudge we all need now and again to get off our ass and start moving.” ―Reebok Blog

“If it isn’t hard enough to get out the door and exercise, tack on some serious, chronic depression and see what happens! Nita Sweeney’s Depression Hates a Moving Target is a poignant tale of one woman’s triumphant efforts―first small and then epic―to climb her way back to some kind of life worth living. Reeling from the deaths of five family members, including her twenty-four-year-old niece, and coping for years with bipolar disease and depression, Nita becomes inspired by the social media posts of a high school friend, hauls her forty-nine-year-old body out of bed, leashes up her yellow lab Morgan, and heads out the door for a jog. She’s overweight and out of shape and starts out with a kitchen timer in her hand, running for sixty seconds. Exhausted yet exhilarated, Nita keeps this up day after day until she stands in front of a mirror saying, ‘I am a runner.’ Soon, she's happy to spend more money on running gear than on any other piece of clothing in her closet. There are so many things I love about this book. First, the book is beautifully well written. Nita’s narrative is not just about her but about the people around her and soon you begin to care deeply about Nita, her family, and of course her dog. But for me, as an older runner, I connect with Nita’s efforts to be part of the running community, which, in my experience, is incredibly welcoming to runners of all ages. Like me, Nita is a back-of-the-pack marathon finisher who’s always got a ‘race’ coming up. As she trains and runs with Fleet Feet Sports in Columbus, Ohio, pushing through the social anxiety many older runners may feel around younger, thinner, fitter women runners, she finds her group, sticks to a training schedule, and without too much awareness or even effort and to her own amazement, is exercising nearly every day. Nita’s careful to note that running is not a substitute for treatment such as medication and therapy for her mental health conditions. It's just one more tool in the toolbox to help her cope and feel hopeful in spite of everything else. If you’re stuck on the couch and doubting whether you could ever enjoy exercising, even if you know it would be good for you, you’ll be inspired by Nita’s story and leash up your own dog, if you have one, and lace your sneakers to head out the door for a walk or run. And maybe grab a kitchen timer on your way out!” ―Carolee Belkin Walker, author of Getting My Bounce Back: How I Got Fit, Healthier, and Happier (And You Can, Too)

“Nita’s story is a gift, a reminder that you can return to something you used to enjoy. You start with a single step. Even if it means running with a kitchen timer on a secluded street in the neighborhood. Even if it means telling your brain to stop saying 'You’re old and fat.' Even if it means that you have to continually fight to get up and just do. Reading Nita’s story continuously reminded me of my own journey. Even though our goals are different (because let’s admit it, running a marathon is not one of my goals) her story is inspiring to appreciate the small victories along the way to the big goal. Through her grief and loss of loved ones, Nita kept running. Through her fears and daily problems, Nita kept running. Through the health problems and reminders of the past, Nita kept running. The journey continues, teaching us something new each day we attempt to reach the big goal. I can keep running.” ―Suzanna Anderson, editor of The Magnolia Review

“There’s hope and help on the track: anyone who has struggled with depression knows the ways the mind can defeat you. However, it is possible to transform yourself with the power of running. You may learn that you can endure more than you think, and that there’s no other therapy quite like pavement beneath your feet. Depression Hates a Moving Target is a witty and poignant story of rediscovery. Whether you’re born to run or just looking for rebirth, you will be inspired by the powerful story of one woman―and her dog, cheer on Nita as she endures the challenges of a marathon and a mind in turmoil, and discover the power of running to overcome obstacles.” ―Therapy for Latinx

“If you're starting your running journey, Sweeney's book―with some great practical tips and resources at the end―may be the running friend you need.” ―Shel Graves Emporium

“Nita Sweeney's courage and grit shine through her candid memoir of 'running out' depression. This book has the power to inspire countless others as they pace themselves to mental health.” ―Aimee Liu, author of Gaining: The Truth About Life After Eating Disorders

Only $5.95 a month for the first 4 months on Audible. Limited-time only.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Mango (May 15, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 258 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1642500135
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1642500134
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.25 x 0.25 x 8.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 474 ratings

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Visit nitasweeney.com for Nita's free eBook, Three Tools for a Happier, Healthier Mind.

Nita Sweeney is an award-winning wellness author, meditation leader, mental health advocate, ultramarathoner, and dog-mom with more than twenty-five years of writing experience. After a decade of legal practice (and a major depressive episode), Nita turned in her shingle for a fast writing pen. People still ask legal questions, but she's done her best to forget the answers. Instead of negotiating labor contracts for public agencies, she writes, and shares what she's learned.

Nita’s articles, essays, and poems have appeared in Buddhist America, Dog World, Dog Fancy, Writer’s Journal, Country Living, Pitkin Review, Spring Street, The Taos News, WNBA-SF blog, Pencil Storm, The Writing Cooperative, It’s Not Your Journey, Wide Open Writing, and other newspapers and newsletters. She blogs and publishes the monthly email, Write Now Columbus.

Her poem “Memorial” won the Dublin Arts Council’s Poet’s Choice Award and an early draft of her memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, (previously titled Twenty-Six Point Freaking Two) was short-listed for the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Award. The book was awarded a Maxwell Medal in the Human Animal Bond category of the Dog Writers Association of America writing competition. It is a #1 Amazon Bestseller in the “mood disorders,” “bipolar disorder,” "depression," and "running & jogging" categories. The book was selected by Ohioana Library to be included in the 2020 Ohioana Festival. The Greater Columbus Arts Council and Ohio Arts Council have awarded her grant funding for her work.

Nita coauthored the popular writing journal, You Should Be Writing: A Journal of Inspiration and Instruction to Keep Your Pen Moving, with Brenda Knight (Women of the Beat Generation.) The Ohioana Library selected it to be included in the 2021 Ohioana Festival.

Her third book, Make Every Move a Meditation, was an award-winning finalist in the Health: Diet & Exercise category of the International Book Awards.

Nita has been featured on AARP.com, Health.com, Healthline.com, Livestrong.com, Fupping.com, PsychCentral.com, bpHope.com, Bustle.com, NextAvenue.com, UpJourney.com, Medium.com, Pawstruck.com, Thrive Global, WGRN, Sweatpants & Coffee, Authority Magazine, Intergenerational Inspiration, 2014 and Beyond, and Pretty Progressive, and in Woman's Day, First for Women, bp Magazine, and Epoch Times, on the Word Carver, Running Dad, My Brain on Endorphins, and Diz Runs podcasts, and nominated for the Ohio Arts Council Governor’s Award.

Nita earned a journalism degree from The E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University with a certificate in women's studies, a law degree from The Ohio State University, a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Goddard College, and certification to lead Buddhist meditation from Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness.

She serves on the boards of the Women's National Book Association of San Francisco and of Still I Run: Runners for Mental Health Awareness where she is the editor of the Still I Run blog.

For ten years, Nita studied with and assisted best-selling author Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) at week-long writing workshops teaching the “rules of writing practice” and leading participants in sitting and walking meditation. Goldberg authorized Nita to teach “writing practice” and Nita has taught for nearly twenty years.

When she’s not writing and teaching, Nita runs. She has completed one ultramarathon, three full marathons, twenty-nine half marathons (in eighteen states), and more than one hundred shorter races. Nita lives in central Ohio with her husband and biggest fan, Ed, and her yellow Labrador running partner, Scarlet, the #ninetyninepercentgooddog.

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