Home > Uncategorized > lifting heavy and running has changed my life. part 1: anxiety

lifting heavy and running has changed my life. part 1: anxiety

Okay everyone. We’re about to get deep again.
I’m going to write a few blog posts about how being healthy and fit has changed my life for the better & how strength training and running has both affected certain areas of my life.

this is Part One: Anxiety.

Let’s rewind to my younger years.
When I was little, I was a cry baby. I’d cry about anything and everything.
When I got through the end of my elementary years, I stopped crying as much. I was the popular kid. The one everyone liked. I didn’t have a care in the world.
Fast forward to middle school and I was a loner. My mom moved us out of my known neighborhood(for good reasons, it wasn’t a very good side of town) and moved to a whole different side of town where I knew absolutely no one.
I was shy, timid, and hesitated when it came to making friends. This brought on the beginning of a very anxious path. I started making a few friends and by the time 8th grade came I had a solid group.
High school hit along with my experimentation with many things. I started down this terrible path, which led to me feeling horrible about myself. I worried that I was becoming someone I would hate. I became extremely depressed, to the point of self harm, and was constantly caring too much about what people thought of me.
Throughout the rest of high school I was on and off feeling these thoughts and eventually weaned away from it due to joining a church and really putting my heart into believing in God and forgiving myself for things I had done. I was less anxious and more “happy.”
Then I stopped. for whatever reason, I cannot explain, but I stopped.
and spiraled down this path of anxiety once again.

If you’ve read “my story” or this post then you know that I’ve struggled with bulimia and other forms of disordered eating. this is at the point where I started this. Right out of high school. I moved out of parents house and was on my own. Even though I had many friends, I felt alone. I tried to become too controlling of myself and when I failed, I would discipline myself for it. The whole disordered eating brought on more anxiety than I could really handle as an 18 year old.
It continued on and off for 3 years. Add panic attacks in there and life was starting to get a bit harder.
You could never tell that all of this was going on with me. I was always the smiling girl who everyone came to for help. Inside I was struggling and fighting against myself. I had a hectic schedule to try to keep myself busy to shove my awful thoughts away without trying to fix them.

My anxiety attacks started in college. They would come out of no where, for no reason. I would hyperventilate, cry uncontrollably, and my heart would race. Nothing would help them, except for time and I was too afraid to go see anyone. I never had luck with counselors. Until one day, it got bad.
In 2009, I was living with my friend Erica at the time and it happened at our apartment. I couldn’t even move. I was having horrible chest pains and an extremely hard time breathing. She had to drive me to the medical center where we waited to see what they would do. I explained my symptoms and the doctor prescribed me a Xanax to take to get rid of the panic and then put me on a prescription of Paxil without explaining side effects or anything. I took the Xanax when I got home and the panic quickly went away. I felt like a zombie all night, but it was better than not being able to breathe.

Paxil: the drug of all evil. I started taking Paxil every day thinking this would help with my daily anxiety(I was having anxious feelings everyday prior to this particular panic attack). Let me tell you, NEVER TAKE THIS. I became an entirely different person. My boyfriend at the time always got annoyed with my crying/anxiety attacks that would happen, but he told me I turned into a completely new person when I started taking this. And not in a good way. Instead of overly caring for people, I didn’t give a shit about anything.(excuse the language.) I was completely emotionless. Not happy. not sad. not angry. not excited. nothing. I was commuting to my college(25 minutes away) and would find myself almost falling asleep on the way there. I hit a parked car in a parking lot from being so zonked out. I didn’t care about my grades. nothing.
I decided to stop taking it. As much as I hated my anxiety, I wanted those emotions back. I wanted to feel something again. Well, turns out the withdrawal symptoms for paxil are as bad as heroin. As soon I went a day without taking it, everything felt insane. This website “quitpaxil” exists and it explains the frequent symptoms. The ones I experienced when I quit taking it was intense insomnia, vivid nightmares, depersonalization, memory and concentration problems, severe mood swings, an unconventional dizziness(this one was the WORST), feeling of shocks running through my body(it was such a weird feeling), blurred vision, nausea, and chills/hot flashes. I couldn’t handle it. I had to keep taking it even though I wanted SO BADLY to stop.
I finally went to a psychiatrist at my school to figure out how to get off of it. He really helped me out and recommended I start taking half of it along with a dosage of prozac because it had less side effects. Eventually I could keeping decreasing my dosage while still taking prozac and then eventually decrease my dosage of prozac and get off of everything. I did it. It took me 2 months, but I finally quit taking these AWFUL drugs.

I decided right then and there, I’m just going to live and deal with my anxiety because I’d rather have those feelings than not feel anything at all.

Around this time, I was offered the service desk position at a local gym when I moved to Coralville. I had always “worked out”, but not very intensely and obviously not enough.
I started taking group fitness classes and noticed they really helped with calming me down and getting rid of those anxious feelings. The adrenaline helped a LOT and I became even more interested in fitness.
I started running when my mom was diagnosed with diabetes and have found that running is a a very helpful anxiety curer. I haven’t had an anxiety attack since I’ve started running and working out more intensely. It helps me clear my thoughts and get away and boosts my self confidence and self esteem each time I complete a run or a workout.
I’m starting to love the person I am and not care (in a good way this time) about how I look to others, what my future is going to hold, if I’m good enough, etc.

I encourage you, if you struggle with anxiety, to start moving. I hope it changes your life like it changed mine.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. May 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    such a great post. i’ve suffered from anxiety/depression/etc. and running has truly been my therapy and lifesaver. i also pinned a bunch of those quotes – so inspiring!

  1. August 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm
  2. February 7, 2013 at 9:00 am

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