Today is mental health day. Let’s be honest for a moment. I struggle with anxiety. I always have, and although I am always working to improve – I very likely always will struggle with this issue. My most recent example of my anxiety coming to light was during my training as I approached my first half marathon with my Dad. I thought I would find this runners high where running was thereaputic…. yeah…. that was bullshit for me. For someone with anxiety, running is not always therapeutic.
I want to describe to you what goes through a runner’s head, or maybe just my own, as someone who struggles with anxiety and fear of death. This is what goes through my mind daily as I run… I share this only to let you know these feelings because I’m not the only one who struggles with anxiety. Sometimes, we’re stuck in our own head… sometimes we’re not sure why we have this anxiety. Sometimes we’re not sure if this is our reality or just an exaggeration of the situation.
8:00 am – I loaded up the car with headphones, keys, armband, RoadID and Apple Watch before headed out to the nearest park for a 10-mile run. I had to make sure I had all of my technology and equipment so that I could be identified if someone found me and the GPS was on so they could track it.
I pulled up to the quiet park, slowed down, and shut my car off in the lone parking spot closest to the street light. As I got out of my car, I looked around to “just check” if someone was following or looked suspicious. I noted the time and texted my husband that I was starting my run in case I went missing – “just to be safe.”
As I began my first mile, I was overcome with an emotion that I have an able body and even though I don’t feel like running, I would because some people couldn’t. Some people have illnesses where they can’t such as cancer, or maybe they have sacrificed limbs. I shouldn’t complain. Someday that could be me… perhaps tomorrow?
Mile two, I was a little farther away from the populated area of the park, and my paranoia began. My hands began to sweat, and I seemed to pick up the pace. Was that an animal in the bushes? Is someone there? Will someone jump out and attack me? I repeated to myself, “I will live in love, not fear. You are fine.”
Mile three, what was the noise? Is my music too loud to notice a predator? Now I was a 5K away from my car and feeling tired; this would be a perfect time for someone to attack me. Are my hands-free? Do I know how to get out of a choke hold? Could my husband track my watch if they smashed my phone? Is anyone running behind me? I repeat to myself, ”Live in love, not fear. You are fine.”
Mile four/five, I needed to walk but then I’ll look like an easy or weak target. Man, my chest is hurting. Is it serious? Can I breathe normally? What if I passed out here, would anyone know? I repeat to myself, “I will live in love, not fear. You are fine.”
Mile six/seven, I thought to myself- I can’t give up now, I have an able body, and some people don’t. I want to give up, but that’s not fair. Why is that couple not wearing helmets? What if they get in a crash up ahead. Can I help them? I haven’t worked as an RN for two years, what if I end up hurting them? I was tired but am trying not to look tired. I repeated Tony Robbins advice to myself, ”I am fucking unstoppable. I am fucking unstoppable. I can do anything.”
As I was getting closer to the populated area again finishing up my run I was tired, sweaty, and still trying to drown out my anxiety with The Chainsmokers on repeat in my headphones. I thought, “Is someone waiting for me by my car because they know how far I went? Is my phone fully charged? Could I call 911?”
What if someone had a heart attack or stroke at the park? Would I help them? Could I help them? Do I remember my RN skills? Does that lady look okay? Do those kids belong to that man? Is someone following me?
Mile 10. I made it. I thought, “See Kari – Live in love, not fear, you are unstoppable.”
I had made it back to my car, and now I can head home.
Drive to safety: I drove home, parked in my driveway, and shut my car off. It was the same emotions but a different day, a different scenario. I got out of my car and looked around to make sure no one was waiting in the bushes as I disarmed the home alarm system.
A Daily Struggle
This was the day in the life of someone who struggles with anxiety. AKA. Me.
None of these words were said out loud. These were all in my head. Like many, I sometimes don’t feel I struggle with mental illness as I believe this to be “all in my head.” The honest truth is that I do fear death… I do have anxiety… I do have phobias… and by not sharing them with others I belittle them.
Sometimes people don’t see anxiety and don’t know someone is struggling because we are stuck in our own head. Sometimes we struggle and are too scared to share our feelings for fear of judgment. If you’ve felt this way before, I encourage you to read the book “The Universe has your back.” It was a game changer for me. This book was a revelation that everyone has fear, but we have to choose love. We have to choose to be happy. We have to choose to accept moments as they happen. We have to choose to have an open conversation with the people in our life about what’s going on in our head.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. If this blog resonates with you or the ones your love, please share.
We’re Here For You
Mental Health is just as important as Physical Health. If you’re struggling mentally, it’s just as important that you seek help. We at We Lift are here to help. #Awareness