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The Marathon in My Mind

For the past three-ish months, I’ve been training for a marathon … though it feels like two marathons – one on my legs and one in my mind ... Let me explain.

Back in June, in the same week I started my marathon training plan, I also started going to therapy for anxiety. (To clarify, training for a marathon didn't cause my anxiety ... In fact, my therapist says running is one of the best things I can be doing to help my anxiety. But I digress ...)

I say it’s felt like training for two marathons because running and therapy have had MANY similarities: They both got worse before they got better. They pushed me to places I didn’t want to go/didn’t know I could go. At times, they drained me all of my energy. And at times, they have been a great source of energy.

I’ll cut to the chase: I’m better now. Much better, but continuing to work and grow. Therapy has given me tools and discoveries that are helping me understand and better handle my anxiety, even appreciate it at times. But a few months ago, things were different. It’s hard to describe how I felt, and I honestly don’t want to.

I will say this: Remember how I almost made it on Jillian Michaels’ podcast? I submitted a question, and they said they wanted to call me to talk on air. Here’s the email I sent:

“So I’d love to get some advice on how to deal with anxiety. Over the last few years, I’ve taken control of my physical health and managed to lose 105 pounds. In addition to shedding pounds, I shed several emotional layers that I realized were holding me back. However, I’ve come to realize and accept that I sometimes struggle with anxiety. In the past, I would simply feed my feelings, so since that’s no longer an option, I’ve been trying healthier ways of coping.

I have an appointment to discuss this with my doctor soon, but I’m nervous. I’m afraid he’ll suggest medication and, ironically enough, the idea of taking a prescription gives me more anxiety … so I’ve been doing some research on supplements, but I’m not sure what information is good or bad. Can you – and maybe your awesome mom – give me any guidance?” (Note for those who don’t listen: Her mom is a therapist and regular guest on the show)

So I never got the call for the show, but that’s OK. And the few natural supplements I tried on my own seemed to be a giant waste of money. They just didn’t do anything for me. I needed to get to the root of my problems.  

To be honest, I never talked to my family doctor about my concerns. I like him just fine, but I didn’t feel like I could have that conversation with him. Instead, I searched for counselors in my insurance network and happened to find a woman with an office just two minutes from my work. It was meant to be.

I’m not gonna lie. Scheduling and actually going to the first appointment was soooo hard, but now I wish I’d gone sooner. Also, writing this post has been extremely difficult. There’s been several drafts, and several cuts. I’ve wondered if I should share this at all. In the end, I decided it’s been a HUGE part of my weight loss/running journey, so I wanted to come clean, so to speak, because I know there’s nothing to be ashamed of. 

Also, I didn't feel like I could write any more about running or my health without addressing the elephant in the room (even if the elephant was invisible to most people).

This is what I've realized: I spent two years losing 105 pounds, and more than a year maintaining the number on the scale, yet I didn’t feel like I truly lost the weight that was holding me down until the last month or so. That’s HUGE. That's transformation (as Chris and Heidi Powell would say).

Publishing this won’t do much for me … except maybe explain what I can’t say out loud to people who wonder what’s been up lately. My hope is, however, this post will help someone else – someone reading this who maybe doesn’t know what to do. The answer? Get help. We all need it from time to time. There’s no reason to be afraid, embarrassed or ashamed.

I can’t tell you how to treat your anxiety, depression or other silent struggles, but I can tell you this: Like marathon training, the first step is the hardest. And it never really gets easier. You just get stronger.

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