If you know me in real life (or maybe even virtually) you will know that I’m a pretty anxious person. I’ve suffered from anxiety for quite a long time, and for a long time I honestly had no idea what it was. I used to lay awake at night as a child convinced I was going to die in the next few minutes. I’d wake my mum up just so I didn’t have to be alone. And at the time, I’d feel rather sick to my stomach, so I was convinced that it was my stomach that was causing the issues, not my mind. It was never talked about, only those moments in the dark were the evidence anything was wrong.
I didn’t know it was anxiety until I was 18 when I took a psychology class.
It took until I was in my 30s to discuss it with a medical professional while I was trying to sort out my headache issues. And while I was more or less dismissed by this person in relation to the headaches, I was listened to about the anxiety. It took until then to bring it up because throughout my late teens and 20s, I was able to control it relatively well. The “episodes” flared up under times of stress, like exams. I knew to expect it then, so I was ready for the shaking, the crying, the tremors, the feeling of imminent demise.
Once I completed my first Master’s degree and started working in education, the anxiety flared up. I could barely drive to work without having an episode. I was terribly grateful that I was given medication to help deal with the symptoms and I could at least get out the door without hoping that I’d get in an accident so I didn’t have to go to work (it’s a very long story, but things weren’t good for me and it was heartbreaking all around, but I won’t bore you all with that right now).
And now, ten years later? While I still have medication to help me out, I have to ration it. So I run. I just lace up my shoes and run. And while these days, I’m usually running towards a goal (a race or a personal goal), it’s still the enjoyment of the wind in my hair and the sun (hopefully) on my face that can clear my mind.
While I was trying to deal with all of the grief and issues from losing my parents, I ran.
While I was trying to deal with the multiple times I didn’t think I’d get to finish my PhD, I ran.
While I was trying to get the blasted thing finished and hit any number of roadblocks, I ran.
It doesn’t always solve all my problems, and certainly there are some runs where it just doesn’t help. But it is a bit better than it used to be. And that’s all I can ask for.
This post was written for #mentalhealthawarenessweek. All thoughts are my own.