Anxiety Disorder: Jogging towards better mental health | 9Lives
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A few months ago I introduced you to the girl with the shoulder pads and the anxiety disorder who was most likely sipping whiskey at the local bar. 

And in between the shoulder pads and whiskey, you found the power that the friend, the flatmate and the guy had for saving the blazer girl. But what happened when the coronavirus kept the friend at bay? And how did she replace the power of the guy, when that chapter of her story ended abruptly?

This still isn’t the story where I tell you about the feeling you get when an anxiety attack creeps in. The story I want to share with you is the second chapter of my anxiety disorder, the one where I had to get the power from within myself to save myself. 

One night I was getting ready to head to bed, when an anxiety attack creeped in. This time around, it was because the thoughts of “who will help me when I’m feeling anxious now that he is gone?” and “now I have to start all over again, explaining this part of myself,” were running around my head the entire night. 

Basically what happened was an anxiety attack about a future anxiety attack. Afterwards, I had to answer those hard questions by myself,  and the only answer I could come up with was;

“You, Isabel-Marié, only you.”

With that statement, I started running. Now every time I feel anxious, I go for a jog, until my body physically can’t go anymore. This is accompanied by a playlist consisting of metal only. 

I can definitely recommend the entire Amo album of Bring Me The Horizon for anyone wanting to run away from anxiety. Each day, I press play on the first song titled “I apologize if you feel something,” and don’t stop until the last chords disappear. This helps me to concentrate on the lyrics and not my feelings of worry and sadness.

Yes, there are good days and bad days. On the good days, I still feel determined to go for a run after work, and on the bad days when I miss the power of the friend and the guy? Well, then I run twice a day. 

JK Rowling once said that when her marriage ended, rock-bottom became the foundation on which she built her life, because she had nowhere else to go but up. That stuck with me over the years. Yes, my broken heart isn’t as bad as a marriage imploding, and jogging is not the new Quidditch, but my rock bottom was when I had no one to turn to, and I had to turn inwards for some power. 

I don’t know why exactly  I chose running as a coping mechanism for my anxiety. I have never been big on exercising and fitness (only exercising my beer drinking arm every Friday in the local bar). 

But what I have realised is that running gives me the power I need to turn away from my over-thinking mind telling me it’s always my fault, from negative thoughts on why they always leave, and from the loneliness that this lockdown has manifested in my life. 

Running enables me to take back the power from the disorder and to escape from my own brain, without the help of the guy or the friend. 

Anxiety disorder: the power of jogging

The first thing that has become clear is that my restless heart has settled down and does not feel like it is about to jump out of my chest anymore, and the tremble in my hands that I have come to live with is now more manageable.  My mind is quiet. It’s clear that my over-thinking couldn’t keep up with my body. 

The second thing that resonates is  the calmness that floods me once I get back home. Especially the calmness in my mind. When I go for a run, I concentrate on moving my feet, swinging my arms and the burning feeling in my legs, and because of those processes my mind becomes calm and collected – we are both on the same mission to the finish line. 

My panic attacks didn’t miraculously fade away, but the urge to call up the guy to ask for some of his power isn’t that strong anymore. 

One day, I decided to face my biggest challenge, a particularly difficult street in my route that I had been avoiding. It represented a lot of anxiety, insecurity and heartbreak. I headed over to that street without a second thought and I passed the house that represented all of the above, and I felt okay and happy. 

So yes, my name is Isabel-Marié and I live with an anxiety disorder. I still have the power from the flatmate, and the friend from a distance. And the power that the guy once had sometimes creeps back in. Luckily I’m owning my running shoes at the moment, the same way I’m owning my shoulder pads and my anxiety disorder.

Author

The VaaIie girl with a laugh better than the joke itself. If you’ve lost me in the crowd, look for the red hat. Or the shoulder pads. Or the floral-patterned blazer. I’ve got a winner of a party trick, just give me a shot of tequila and a raw egg, and if you’re not sure how to start the conversation, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.

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