It’s hard to believe that just over 3 years ago I embarked on my half marathon/full marathon journey and started this blog to document the process. Reflecting on the past year, so much has happened, and I finally feel ready to discuss some of it as it relates to running.
When I started running regularly, I began to notice a lot of changes. I felt more focused, and I felt a sense of peace. After a run, I would feel refreshed, less stressed, like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Now, I realize how much God brought running into my life at a crucial time and to help heal some of my brokenness.
About a year and a half ago, after the big move to Austin, I started struggling with a lot of anxiety. No, I’m not talking about feeling anxious in normal situations that call for nervousness.
I fretted and panicked over every little thing – sending emails, keeping up with my workouts, making new friends, forgetting to take the trash out, losing my keys, etc. I would have sudden anxiety attacks, followed by massive feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness and depression. I found myself struggling to get out of bed in the morning every single day, longing for each day to be over before it began. It was constant. It was something I experienced before, but something running largely alleviated during the calmer periods of my life the last couple of years.
Chris and I pre-PR at the Cap 10K this year.
Being in a new city, away from much of my support system, and being in a work environment that just did not work for me at all, the anxiety led into depression. I tried to work through it and keep on keepin’ on, but it wasn’t something that running could alleviate any more. It became impossible to rely solely on running as my stress reliever and it was clear that I needed some help. I came to a breaking point (I won’t elaborate here because I really don’t want to glamorize how I was feeling). I couldn’t out run the problem anymore, or sweep it under the rug like I’d been doing for 16 years.
Though all of that was extremely tough, the good news is that over the past year I began to intentionally take care of my mental health. In addition to having an incredibly supportive husband who encouraged me to get the help I needed, I owe that in large part to the practice of running. I would not have realized how much I needed help if running hadn’t made such a difference in my life.
It’s true that God has used running in my life, but I could not have foreseen what a large role it would play in this particular aspect of my life.
So why tell you all of this?
Transparency. So often bloggers, writers, etc. discuss struggles during a pregnancy or weight loss, but depression and mental health are sometimes considered taboo. However, it’s still health-related, and, therefore, important.
I feel a sense of duty to share what’s been going on, because so many people are afraid to. That’s always been the motivation of my blog – to reflect on what I’ve experienced and learned, so that others can know they’re not alone, learn more about themselves, and to build community.
There’s still a perception that anxiety can be a handicap or disability, which is wrong, but it exists. I got to my breaking point and it’s hard to think about how awful that was – but I’m also kind of inspired thinking about where I was just a little over a year ago and where I am today. Not only did I start looking for a new job, but I started the journey to find help – like not just seeing a counselor a few times, but consistent help from a therapist and psychiatrist. It took me far too long to do all of that because I feared the stigma. And I want to be a part of breaking down that stigma.
Finishing my second marathon – another tough experience, but totally worth it to prove to myself that I could do it again.
The other reason is to celebrate. It’s taken me a month and a half to get the courage to post this, but I’ve overcome a lot in the past year and I want to spread the message that there is hope. Wherever you’re at, you are loved, your life matters, and you are NOT alone. If you need help, or need to take medication, there is nothing wrong with that. As Jamie Tworkowski implied, as long as you have breath in your lungs, your life matters (this also seems more timely than ever with the tragic death of Chester Bennington).
Mental health is as important as physical health because both contribute to your overall health.
With all of that off my chest, what’s next?
I’m not sure! I’ve got a couple of half marathons I’m looking forward to this fall. My plan is to continue to focus on getting faster with my half marathon time before I think about doing another full marathon. It keeps me focused on something (and my doctor says that running is important to my treatment – funny how it really is like medication in some ways!).
I’ve also got some fun lifestyle content planned! I always say that, but I’ve been reflecting and brainstorming on a bunch of different posts for the rest of the summer and fall. If you like to travel, stay active and enjoy all that life has to offer (which is basically all people), then this is for you! I’m so excited to share this new content with you guys!
Thanks, as always, for reading along. Your support has meant the world to me and I look forward to sharing the next year of blogging with you guys!
On a serious note: if you or someone you know is experiencing serious depression or considering suicide, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Crisis Text Line (send a text to 741-741 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Someone will answer 24/7.