To summarize the past few months: I’m having a tough time.
I am usually motivated by getting things done. “Yes, I can do that. I can do this better this time. Of course I can help you with that.”
But the past few months have revealed to me that I powered through almost 3 decades of people pleasing. This “motivation” was really approval addiction that started in my childhood but went unrecognized until the anxiety and/or depression I was too ashamed to address refused to hide anymore.
I did all the right things and all the extra stuff too. I maintained a 4.0, did well at work, balanced all the duties of being a wife and mother and got us all involved in volunteering in the community. But suddenly, it didn’t matter. No one cared anymore, not even me.
I could hear people talking to me but nothing registered. Reading articles, emails, and homework became increasingly difficult. I went from perfect attendance at work with so much motivation and drive that the thought of wasting time on a nap made me angry, to using all of my vacation days to sleep through the weekdays where I couldn’t find the energy to get out of bed. I could not come up with a single answer for “What’s the point?”
3 years ago my life was turned upside down and a panic attack at work was the alarm that forced me to admit my constant nervousness was anxiety and that I needed help managing it. So I went to my doctor and explained my problem. She wrote me a prescription for Effexor and suggested therapy.
I had to go back every 6 months to renew my prescription. When I told her about the issues I was having she said that couldn’t have been from the Effexor. So I felt like maybe I was overreacting. I felt sad for no reason for days at a time and then I’d go 2 days or so with no sleep because there was so much that had to be done and it all seemed like an emergency. But the doctor said I was ok…so she must be right…right? Wrong! Hindsight is 20/20 and I’m looking back at that obvious red flag wondering how a medical professional missed it.
Fast forward to 2018. After 3 years on that medication I no longer feel like it evens me out. My anxiety is still here and I have a new friend too. Depression. I quit Effexor cold turkey and let me tell you you…that is not an experience I’d wish on my worst enemy! I think I’m through the worst days of that. The brain zaps have died down. The dizziness isn’t constant and I can peel myself out of bed in the morning.
I’m training for a marathon. I’m talking through my problems. I have an appointment on Monday with a different doctor. I’m going to get through this.
Running is my therapy. It gives me something to work on. It gives me something to measure. It gives me some of the best views of the great outdoors. It gives me like-minded people to talk to. It also gives me the ability to think through problems that I can’t figure out while standing still.
Today’s run was done after work through a shady trail. I didn’t think about anything really. I listened to a Rolling Stones playlist and enjoyed my four miles. I’m looking forward to my long run tomorrow. It sounds slightly crazy that I’m looking forward to 10 miles but in taking my hint of excitement about it as a good sign.
If you can relate to anything I’ve said, please check out Scott Douglas’ book. Running may be your therapy too.
(I am in no way saying running is a substitute for medication or therapy. It may work for some but not all. It may work at one stage of your life but not another. Hell, I’m still figuring this out. Running can be therapy by itself or in addition to medication and/or counseling/talk therapy.)