I was thinking the other day about why I started this blog. I have been so busy with wedding stuff and house stuff that I have barely had time to breathe! My anxiety has been so high that even running isn’t helping as much. So I took some inventory of what I can do better to manage my anxiety. So I thought that I would share here some of my history and how I am managing this extra stressful time!
So I have never been diagnosed with anxiety, but if you were to ask my parents they would probably say as a child I was pretty anxious. I was very quiet whenever meeting people and have always been worried about what people think of me. I would slowly start to feel comfortable and be more outgoing. People laugh when I try to tell them that I really am a quiet, almost introverted, person.
But my anxiety really kicked in during high school. So many things change at this time it’s no wonder that my anxiety kicked in. Every year the night before school started I would have the dream that my front tooth would fall out and my mom would still make me go to school! I mean it was a horrendous dream! My mom has told me multiple times she wouldn’t do that of course! haha.
I remember my first day in high school and I was so intimidated and then I found out it was only the freshman class! I met my best friend (to this day!) and she helped me navigate through the school. We were both military brats so she knew what was going on. I started having sleep problems. I would sit in my bed and just think and think and think. And it was never about important stuff. It was always little things, like what was I going to wear, what was going to be for lunch, how do I want to wear my hair…I mean just racing and racing. My parents at times were probably exhausted. I would get up and just be unable to go to sleep. My mom told me to take a warm shower, to walk up and down the stairs, to drink warm milk, so many different things! At around this time my family got into Harry Potter. So my parents would listen to the audiobooks when they went to bed. So I thought no harm in trying this too! And it worked!!
I started listening to it my freshman year and really didn’t stop until I moved in with my fiance. It was a way for my brain to be attentive on something besides my racing thoughts. I would listen to the book and off to sleep I went! So that helped all through high school, but then came college. Talk about anxiety.
My undergraduate program had a weekend were freshman would come tour the school, pick out classes, and learn their way around the campus. We had our parents (thank goodness for mom!) but for a lot of the stuff we were separated. But I just reverted back to my quietness. I just listened and would talk to people when they talked to me! Later I found that some people thought I was rude because I would be short with them. I think this is a characteristic of anxious people if asked what strangers or acquaintances thought of them. I don’t think I’m a rude person but I get worried about what I say to people. Imagine talking to someone and thinking…I wonder what they think about me? Am I talking to much? Am I weird? Is this person going to like me when this conversation is over? It’s like having a negative Nancy live in your head! It’s exhausting for me to just read!!
But when I finally started school I felt okay. I had a nice roommate. She would always try to take me places and go out and do campus activities….of course you know I said no. Most of my freshman year I went home on the weekends and came back for school. I finally went out of my comfort zone one night and went out with my roommate. It was fun, but I picked up a bad habit. My parents are not drinkers and my mother has always been “meh” to it because of family history. But when I was in school I was amazed at how much calmer and relaxed I would feel mentally and physically when I would be out having a drink. Over time I would drink more and I would end up doing things that made me more anxious. I would wake up in the morning and people would tell me all the silly things I did the night before and I would be mortified. I would go into hiding, I would not answer my phone, I would stay in my room and only go out for classes and an occasional meal. But I never thought that drinking was a problem, it was my “weirdness”. This pattern occurred over and over again through school. Friendships changed, I started and ended relationships, my drinking pattern would get better and then worse.
It’s interesting to look back and think how anxiety touches all areas of your life.I think that I didn’t do as well in classes/school because of it. I would be worried about asking questions in class for fear of being looked at as stupid. I would second guess myself on tests and I always thought that I wasn’t good enough to do important things (like be a dentist!). I also have a low frustration tolerance, which I think is connected to my anxiety. So my friend group changed frequently throughout, which means that I really have no close friendships. No one that I really could lean on and talk about “serious” problems. I don’t know if any of my friends recognized that I had anxiety. It’s hard at times to distinguish between anxiety and stress, especially if you’re not a professional. So maybe they just thought I stressed out over everything.
I finished school and was accepted into Tulane School of Social Work. To be completely honest when I switched from pre-dental to psychology, I wanted to be a psychologist. I have always been interested in the mind. All things psychology interest me. But I waited to long to do that I didn’t have the GPA to go to school. So I looked into counseling and social work. I don’t know if I was pushed or tripped…but I ended up in the right place! Again, we had an orientation and it was very similar to my undergrad experience! I remember my friend now coming up to me and being like “I feel weird, can I sit here”. I started coming into my own at this point. So I don’t think my anxiety bothered me as much. It was obviously still there but I was pretty busy with school and trying to stay on top of things. But I remember tests still caused anxiety. I even went to a psychologist to be tested for ADHD and she said that I definitely have anxiety and maybe ADHD. We talked about coping skills and I left. No medicine, no more tests.
I graduated with no issues and got my first job. It was stressful looking but I got really lucky with having a friend’s mom help me get a job. I did have some anxiety about starting a “big girl job”, but I felt good doing this kind of work so I felt natural. At this point though I had picked up another bad habit…smoking. I started in college socially, but it increased at work. Probably at the worst I would smoke a half pack a day. I also started eating worse. I would never take a lunch and ate fast food everyday sometime 3 times a day!! So I gained weight. 30 pounds to be exact. By no means was I obese but I was overweight for my height. This was the last straw for me. I couldn’t continue to buy new clothes. I have never been a gym person but I knew I needed to change. So I got a personal trainer and got to work.
It was hard at first. I liked veggies but they definitely we’re not my go to! With my personal trainer we totally overhauled my diet. We also started to incorporate weights with cardio. I was totally weirded out by weights. I mean I didn’t want to be manly! But I started to do research and found out that weights actually help you lose weight because muscle needs more calories than fat. And in order to build muscle you have to lift weights. So I did that for about 3 years. I did a bikini competition and going to the gym led me to a friend that introduced me to my fiancé. But there were problems. I have always struggled with body issues. And the constant scrutiny on my body (by myself) turned food and working out into a task. I literally looked at everything that went into my mouth as an issue. I would splurge and instantly have guilt.
So I yo-yo-ed for awhile. I would do good and then go backwards. It was easier to stay on track with Tony because he would help me not buy junk and then I wouldn’t eat it when he was around! But even this process caused me anxiety!
So about a year or so we got engage (yay!!) and I started to plan. I have looked forward to my wedding my entire life. And I never knew I would marry literally the man of my dreams! But the wedding has taken a toll on me. I have learned that I care about others feelings more than my own. I have learned that I will do for others and push the things that are important to me down the list. This is a good quality. Most of the time, but it has caused stress for sure. One night we were coming home from a movie and I had a panic attack in the car. Literally out of nowhere. But I’m sure it’s because I literally have been paying no attention to my own needs. So where does running come in?!?!?
Well when a friend of mine the text me to say congrats she also asked if I would want to do a half marathon. Now I could barely run a mile….but I thought a new challenge would be a good idea!
So I started to run. At first I was running on the treadmill. Easier to keep track of how I was doing and could push myself! Then I took it outside….man! I still remember my first outside run! Hahaha. It was horrible! I got plantar fasciitis because didn’t have the proper running shoes and I was unfamiliar with running conditions outside! But surprisingly I stuck with running! I think it’s because at that moment I felt relief. Running is an activity where it’s just you and the road. It’s just me…and that was freeing. That was relaxing!
I remember one day where I literally had no period of time when I was it was silent. I’m a social worker – I listen to people for a living. But I went to the gym and had my workout partner to talk to, then I come home and talk to my fiancé, and literally sometimes fall asleep to him talking to me! I found that running was a time to be alone and sort through my day, relieve some stress, and get rid of unnecessary BS!
And just like that….runcassierun was born!!!!
Now today I am focusing on making my runs more meditative. I have started to work on my breathing. I also feel better because some of my stress has gone down over the last few weeks (full disclosure this blog took me three weeks to write because I have been so busy!) But I know it’s going to go up with all the stuff for the wedding coming up! But at least I know the road, headphones, and my shoes are right there whenever I need to pound away the stress!
I plan to post tips over the next few weeks on how to incorporate running, weights, and eating healthy into any ones life. What tips would help you all out? Leave me a comment and I will work on any tips I get!