Happily Wrong and Happily Running and Unhappily Anxious

Sometimes there are happy endings. The person in the ambulance? The one I was sure died in the park on September 10th? I was wrong. She lived. She was saved by her soccer coach and she lived. I still don’t understand why the ambulance sat for so very long before taking her to the hospital, or why it looked like she was alone in there. But none of that matters, it is rare that I have been so thrilled to be completely wrong.

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Yesterday I completed my final long run before the blessed taper (end of a training program during which you run progressively less in order to save up energy for the big race) begins. My running app, which is the boss of me, told me to run 13 miles. I did 13.1, the exact distance of a half marathon. Even if I screw up royally on October 19th I proved to myself I can do it.

When you run as slow as I do 13 miles provides a lot of time to think. Lately I can’t escape thinking about my anxiety, which had been unbearable this fall. It was so terrible before I left the house yesterday morning that I was sure I wouldn’t complete the distance.

But somewhere after the 3rd mile just doing the work pushed the anxiety away. The run felt impossible, it was crushingly painful, but I found a rhythm. By the way, the runner’s high people are always talking about? Fucking myth. It has never happened to me.

I’ll tell you what, though. Chasing the anxiety away? The pain is worth it.

I’m in a bad place right now. Scary bad. I drop the boys off at school, come home and sit in front of the computer. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I berate myself for not touching the overwhelming list of shit I need to get done. Sometimes I stare at nothing. I’m always choking on panic and fear.

Why don’t I just do it? Send the emails for the school project? Do the research? Start the editing of a paper? Why don’t I clean the house? Get started on dinner? Organize the avalanche of papers? Do a fucking yoga video?

I am paralyzed. I sit and I sit and I hate myself and I sit some more.

Right now the only thing I have energy for is pretending everything is just fine when I leave the house. The smiles I force on my face at school drop off and pick up, the small talk at soccer, going through the effort of wrestling the boys into bathing suits in the Y locker room before swim lessons, that stuff takes every ounce of energy I have.

Being with friends is a reprieve. I am happy getting coffee with girlfriends, or spending an afternoon at the park with our little gang, or attending birthday parties and cook outs. I can tell my friends the anxiety is bad, but we all have our shit to deal with. Going into detail feels like it would unfairly burdensome.

Admitting I have an anxiety order and that I’m struggling is easy here. In real life I can’t let my guard down. If I don’t pretend everything is just fine I will stop functioning, even at the poor level I’m at right now. That is not an option. The boys must get to school and to their activities. I must make it to my appointments. I must act normal until I can escape to the safety of the house and let myself fall apart while perched on a stool in our kitchen, my blank face lit up by the computer screen.

So yes. The pain of a thirteen mile run is worth it if it chases the more severe pain of anxiety away for a few short hours.

no nap

C naps.

big kid

T grins.

end of harry potter

Finishing up the first Harry Potter book.

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5 thoughts on “Happily Wrong and Happily Running and Unhappily Anxious

  1. Sometimes I think “fake it til you make it” is a worthwhile mantra. I’m glad you can admit how bad things are here on this blog, because I’m glad that somewhere you can be honest, as much as the things you are talking about suck for you. I’ve been thinking about how silent people are about their problems; their real problems, not their can’t find a place to park late for work bad day kind of problems. We don’t talk about our real anxieties much. And then we are sometimes blindsided by reality and don’t know what to say or how to be. Someone I never knew but admired so much in her professional capacity was found dead by her own hand yesterday, and I think about how much we (her colleagues and public followers) didn’t know about her, about how much her actual friends and family maybe didn’t know about her, and how lonely or lost or tired she must have been. I don’t know if it makes anything better for you that you write about it, but I have to hope so. You and I have never met but I still am glad you write, that you are struggling and willing to admit it, because it may not feel like bravery but it is. Run on. Keep fucking plodding through, if that’s how you get through. Just know people actually do care, even if the anxiety tries to tell you otherwise.

    • The loss of someone you admire, even if you don’t know them personally, is a really terrible thing. I am so sorry for you, for her family, and for her.

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate the encouragement. Especially because today hasn’t been that great inside my head.

  2. I am so grateful to be reading this; I have been doing the same thing. I have been thinking it’s September to be honest with you (this happened to me last year, too). The memory of starting a new school year is imprinted in your body whether your adult self chooses to remember or not–I believe my body is trying to prepare itself for the WORST right now, haha, even though I keep reminding myself: you’re not 12, you’re 32. It doesn’t matter, the fear is still in my stomach, causing my heart rate to increase, my thoughts to race, my palms to sweat and my body to shut down. I too am conserving all my energy for school pick ups and random social events. I too feel like it is inappropriate to tell this to strangers or even to your friends who have been carrying the weight of my anxiety since we met. However, I also feel it is inappropriate to pretend everything is fine. This leaves me in a state of simply feeling wrong. I feel like I’m doing the wrong thing ALL the time. I am so glad you wrote about this. The loneliness is the worst part. XO

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