Running Away From My Anxiety

4 years ago

   I’ve decided regular exercise is good for me. More accurately: I have reached a place in my life where I must either exercise, explode or have myself committed. 

   Don’t let my calm exterior fool you. (It shouldn’t. I don’t have one.) I am tightly wound.

   It has never registered before now, that I need exercise. I was hardcore into ballet  growing up. But that was just dancing. I started running after college, but that was just so I would quit smoking. When I took up yoga in my solo living, single twenties, I was lonely and seeking a mind/body balance seemed like the reason I needed, to leave my apartment. 

   When I started having babies, exercise ceased to exist in my world. First it was because one of the little buggers strained my pelvis while she was incubating. Then it was because I was too busy kissing on them/trying to survive them, to bother. 

   Now my youngest is almost two. Coming out of the baby coma I’ve been in for five years, I’ve lately turned myself to the task of re-sharpening my mind beyond that which is required to entertain preschool-aged children. But while my brainpower has been increasing, I have all but left my body to rot. 

   The other day I was in the shower, reached down to scrub my calves and thought, “Hey, these are my legs!” Like I hadn’t noticed them before.

   Sedentary is suddenly no longer an option. My physical host hath revolted. 

   I started experiencing physical manifestations of anxiety, exacerbated by lack of physical fitness. (A pretty fancy sounding diagnosis, that I made up.) 

   I thought maybe I was dying. When I am anxious, the worst thing I can do is speculate I am physically ailing.  Even if I am able to talk myself back down, into only believing I have anxiety, my anxiety will convince me that having anxiety, causes cancer. Not cool.

   Usual signs of anxiety for me include the awakening of the self-loathing, life-fearing voices that slumber in the recesses of my mind. Those jerks make me feel nervous and insecure by telling me I suck, that I should be scared of nothing and panic about everything. 

   My latest symptoms included: my heart trying to beat itself through my chest and a tightness  in my body, as if I was clenching my  bones. For days, I experienced an unrelenting excitement and nervousness, similar to that of my wedding day, mixed with the kind of adrenaline I could use to successfully outrun a bionic cougar.  

   I needed to move my body. Now. 

   I took off so fast on my first run, it was like my kids were screaming and crying from the front porch because I was leaving them. (They were.)  I had to get quickly out of earshot or the pleading of my babies and the struggle of my husband trying to calm them, would make me cave and go back inside the house. Where I would burst. 

  That first run felt incredible. The relief was instant.  

   You know those experts who always say things about exercise increasing levels of chemicals in the body that help improve your mood and alleviate stress? That exercise increases your ability to focus, makes your brain work better, helps you relax and that I’m a perfect moron? I believe them now! 

   Now that my body is moving again, I am...
 more joyful 
 less cranky
 more playful 
 less lump in a pair of sweatpants
 more productive 
 less overwhelmed and can’t pick a direction so I’m just gonna freak out instead  more annoying advocate for a healthful life, 
 less "Why do I feel like crap?" 

   So now you can see, I didn’t screw up the title. Ex-or-cising my demons was proven impossible long ago. They never vacate, only linger on the stoop, waiting for full moons and menstrual cycles, to bust through the door with surprising ferocity. 

  New plan: I’m going to wear my demons out with exercise, so they’ll be too tired to mess with me. Nighty night, you nasty beasts.  

~Carisa Miller:Do you read me?

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