Running and Anxiety By Chrissy
My story -why I run!
This is a brief story about why I run and how much I believe running can help with your mental health as well as the physical benefits.
I started suffering with anxiety and intrusive thoughts 12 years ago.
The NHS describe anxiety as a feeling of unease, such as a worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. A lot of people feel anxious and at time. This can be a natural and normal feeling that is nothing to worry about however with my anxiety the fear became severe and I began to suffer with intrusive thoughts.
I think this happened because I'd let too many issues build up and not dealt with them, my first marriage broke down leaving me as a single mum with 2 very young children, at this point I massively suffered with anxiety, leaving the house to just go the town or supermarket became increasingly more difficult. I really struggled with the stigma of being a single mum and having a failed marriage at 26 and the general fear of how to cope alone, financially and emotionally. I tried to bury my head in the sand about the long-term impact this had on my mental health and tried to be ‘strong' for the children. I put it all in a box and firmly closed the lid and moved on...
Moving on I met an amazing man and life was good. I thought, foolishly, I had the anxiety dealt with, however, I then had my 3rd child which was a very difficult pregnancy and then he had health issues as soon as he was born. This alongside the very sad deaths of all 3 of my grandparents in 6 months left me in a permanent anxious state and this is when I first suffered with intrusive thoughts. These were the most frightening horrific thing, 'seeing' accidents, my children being harmed and them dying in an almost movie like form. They felt so very real though and I thought I was probably losing my marbles! My amazing husband was so supportive and was always there, but this became too big to deal with alone. I would get into a state where I couldn't break out of my thoughts, they would be on a treadmill in my head . I started to limit mine and the children’s worlds, never going to parks or soft play for fear of accidents and stopped them using bikes or scooters, you know those death traps!
I had a sudden realisation that something had to change. A trip to the GP started this and referral for CBT. I had some private counselling whilst waiting and then started running!
The running was the most incredible release that I never ever had imagined. It was never easy, and still isn’t 4 years later, but it has changed my whole world. When I run, I am me, I am strong, I am free of the anxiety and the intrusive thoughts.
I RUN AND WHILE I AM DOING IT, I FEEL AS IF THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD HAS GONE.
I am so proud of myself for what I have achieved through my running. I got my self esteem back, my self belief and have done some amazing things because of it.
I ran London marathon in 2018 and have done 6 1/2 marathons. This year I ran The Great Welsh Marathon and completed 45 miles in a 24-hour event called Hope 24.
I am not fast and not a typical ‘runner’! Whatever that may be! But I love it in a way I struggle to explain. I am a better parent, a better wife and a better friend because of it. My children are so proud of me and I am setting them an example that I am proud of. I still suffer with anxiety, sadly that's just a part of me and the intrusive thoughts rear their evil head every now and then, the CBT helped but honestly long term it's the running. I now also have a Personal Trainer to help get the rest of my body as strong as my legs and this initially caused me to have a meltdown but now, I love it.
I have now enrolled to start a Psychology degree as a mature student, which I could never done before, and this is with the idea of learning as much as I can about the psychology of sport and how it helps your brain.
I am pleased I have found this incredible world of running, a supportive and hugely inclusive community who I feel help to build each other up and concentrate on the positive that our bodies can do with the power of our heads.
I am a proud runner now and look forward to what the running world will open up for me next!