In six days the 5K happens. As of yesterday I have only run 5K twice in my entire life. I don’t really know the course. But I have seen the course markers on one part of it-they are orange. I don’t know how to register the day of. I still haven’t arranged a babysitter. I have a rather severe anxiety disorder and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. What the fuck was I thinking when I signed up for this thing?
Yesterday morning I set out to make sure jogging for 3.1 miles wasn’t a bizarre fluke but something I could actually make myself do on purpose. The first time I tricked myself. Ran 2.25 miles and made a last second decision to keep on going. Yesterday it was much harder to start knowing I had almost an extra mile before stopping. If that makes sense. In fact, the whole jog was harder mentally. But I did it. Actually, I did it a minute faster than the first time.
Unfortunately I also had diarrhea for about 20 minutes before I went. Hardcore anxiety diarrhea. The kind where I’m sitting on the pot and my anxiety is telling me I’m getting way too big for my britches by thinking I can do a 5K race. The kind where she tells me I shouldn’t open myself up to embarrassment by doing the race.
Sometimes I get so fucking tired of fighting her. Sometimes I want to collapse under the weight of her incessant criticism. Sometimes I believe her, I think my efforts to live a normal life are a joke, that everyone who crosses my path is filled with pity and repulsion, I should just give up a battle I will never win.
These days the main topic in therapy is accepting that the anxiety isn’t going to go away. Ever. There is no magic cure, I must learn to live with the bitch who is most certainly not moving out of my brain. Most days I feel proud that I’m engaging in life despite the anxiety, but I also get overwhelmed that fighting her is required to complete the most straightforward tasks. I want going apple picking with friends to be a no brainer. Instead it requires a benzo, three imodium, and I’m sure I’m going to bail right up until the last moment we get into the car. That stupid fight is never going to go away. The fear I feel whenever the car pulls away from our home with me in it is permanent.
The trick is to remind myself that the fight is worth it. We had a terrific time picking apples and pumpkins yesterday. The payoff is worth the fear. How else am I going to get the opportunity to have an apple fritter sundae for lunch?
Doing the 5K is also worth it. I am proving to myself that I can do hard things. The me of a year ago would have never believed I could do this. I’ve surprised myself and my family and three months and one week after stumbling into this exercise thing I am doing my first race.
Do you want to know the whole truth? I hate this truth. Because the exercise thing is good. It is healthy for me, I am doing something to take care of myself. But the truth is the exercise has become winning a game of solitaire before I sleep. I believe it is the only thing keeping me together emotionally and if I stop my life will fall apart. So my anxiety is telling me I can’t do a 5K at the same time she is telling me if I stop exercising I will not be able to go to class or do my homework or take the boys to school or grocery shop or get to my shrink appointments or do laundry or leave the house or get out of bed.
For years I’ve been told that exercise is as good as drugs when it comes to fighting mental illness. For years I couldn’t convince myself to just do it. And now I am. I exercise five days a week. So what happens if I stop? It stands to reason (in my completely unreasonable mind) that my life will fall apart. The binding that is holding me together is jogging five days a week. It doesn’t matter that I’ve only been doing it for three months, suddenly it is the most important thing I do.
Friends, I know. This all sounds ridiculous. Am I actively courting drama? Why can’t I enjoy that I’m doing something good for myself? What the fuck is my problem? Why can’t I just decide not to be anxious? Believe me, I ask these questions constantly. I know how good my life is and how lucky I am. The mental illness seems like it should be totally surmountable. I still wonder if it is even real. My shrink asks if my asthma is real whenever I start down that line of questioning. Listen, I’m pretty damn open about living with mental illness. And yet I still don’t understand why I can’t quite seem to pull myself up by my bootstraps.
I am living with mental illness. I am managing it and am participating in life more than I have since…..really since I became an adult. Z is proud of me and I’m proud of myself. But it still demoralizing some days. I still fantasize about getting better or simply giving up.
It’s the boys who keep me going. They deserve a functioning Mother.
I’m going to run the damn race on Sunday. Even if I have to take a million imodium to get me there. I’m going to keep exercising. I’m going to keep fighting the anxiety. And in case you’ve had enough of this crap-fair warning I’m going to keep writing about it all.
On instagram I dubbed this the opposite of vanity shot. Bought running tights. Felt naked wearing them. Also, I look like humpty dumpty around the middle and my friend hilariously pointed out it looks like I have a penis head. Bottom line is this if I can go out into public looking like this you can totally do it, too. You can also make fun of me. Because seriously, I look ridiculous.
C picked out his pumpkin yesterday.
Boys in wheelbarrows.
I’m a lucky duck to have this crew as friends.