I struggle with anxiety. I don’t want to admit it, I don’t want to talk about it. It is something very personal and I deal with it almost everyday. I dont want to talk about it, but since creating this community, talking to other people and sharing so much with others, I realize I am not alone.
I could sit here and pick myself apart with all the things that I feel I do wrong. I know I overthink things, I know I take things too personally, I know I overreact, I know I over obsess. I wear my heart on my sleeve, my emotions on my face and my thoughts come right out of my mouth. This is how I have always been. I want to please everyone, do what I can for others and make sure everyone is happy. As soon as I pick up on any bad mood or change in tone from someone, I automatically think they are mad at me or I have done something wrong… even if there is clearly nothing that is remotely close to my fault. I have said I am sorry about a million times, and at least half of those sorry’s were for things I did not do. I way too often think someone is mad at me, or something is wrong. I over analyze the way someone says something. I overthink a reaction or a situation over and over in my head until it makes me cringe. I can hardly have an emotional conversation without at some point bursting into tears. I have the hardest thing with letting things go. I dwell on things that I can’t do anything about, that are in the past, that really don’t matter. I replay situations in my mind that caused me anxiety initially and continue to do so every time I replay them.
This is my little secret. I might look cool, calm and collected on the outside, but sometimes there is a battle I am fighting on the inside. That horrible, stomach in a knot, uneasy, need to flee, what the hell is going on feeling m. It drives me crazy. I want it to go away.
I so badly want to let go of these things.
And I have tried. I recognize these things about myself and I know that they are there. But I haven’t been able to move past them.
I often say there are two of me inside my head. The logical Hailey… and then this crazy person with completely irrational thoughts and emotions. And the worst part? I’m totally aware of that other Hailey.
My anxiety is mostly a result of working in a very stressful environment, long hours and night shifts. But my anxiety started a long time before I became a nurse. I remember getting panic attacks as a kid and a teenager. My heart pounding in my chest, feeling flushed all over, feeling panicked, not sure what to do. I had no idea what caused these but I managed them well when they came and kept really quiet about it. I saw Councilors from time to time but the anxiety never went away. I battled with it all through university, struggling horribly with exams from test anxiety. I started to develop insomnia from being anxious about clinical the next day or assignments due. When I have too much on my mind my sleep suffers, and when my sleep suffers my mood gets liable and I can’t focus as well on work. And when my mood is all over the place my relationships and everyday life get affected which furthers my anxiety. And thus creates a cycle.
I have found a way to break this cycle, even if it is just for a small moment of the day. I found running…In those darkest moments, I just wanted to be outside, away from my to do list, away from whatever weight I had on me, so off I went. I have never looked back, running saved me, it helped me work through my anxiety the way nothing else has ever done.
Yes it’s better. But it’s far from gone. Night shifts give me horrible anxiety, especially when I only get 4-5 hours of sleep or have had a challenging shift at work. Although now it is better, and I know when its building up, and what triggers it. When I am tired, anxious or overwhelmed, running is the best thing I have found to work through and over come it. My husband knows me so well and understands that running is truly my anxiety cure. When I am getting worked up, stressed out, crying… he looks at me and says “Hailey… grab your running shoes and go. Go as long as you need to. Go until you feel better.” And for that I am endlessly thankful because once I step out the door and move my body, it all disappears.
I didn’t want to let me secret out, but that is what we do at Run Like a Girl. We share what is inside of ourselves, to work through things and to show people that they aren’t alone in their struggles. I am not perfect, I am far from it and I have a lot of work to do on myself. I recognize my struggles, I recognize my over-active, anxiety provoking mind.
But I have also found what helps me. For me, running is much more than just lacing up and going out. It is more than training, it is more than racing. Through running, you learn to breathe effectively to keep going, which actually has helped me breathe through an anxiety attack. I also listen to soft and calming music when I run, which might sound strange but when you are running off your anxiety, this is the best way to keep your mind calm while your body is moving quickly. Running is more than just a physical outlet for dealing with daily stress and anxiety. Because of it, I am happier, more confident, and stronger mentally and physically… And best of all, it teaches me to truly love myself.
And in 2 weeks, I am leaving my crazy hectic life for a change of pace. I welcome that change so deeply. I am beyond excited to let shift work go for awhile, to step away from nursing and step into nature. To get more connected with myself, to put more energy and time into what I love the most. I am excited to work on myself, to grow and to change. Life is a journey and we should never stop growing. Change can be one of the hardest things to accept, but I think if that change comes from within, it is a whole lot easier to handle.
I am ready.