Hi there! Thank you so much for taking the time to check out my new blog, Anxiously Active. This project has been sitting in the back of my mind for years now; periodically entertained but mainly ignored, I wanted to share my experiences of anxiety, depression and finding solace through fitness.
I took a tentative step forward earlier this year by starting my Instagram profile Anxiously Active with a lofty goal that if I ever hit 1,000 followers I would start an accompanying blog. I honestly never thought that this would be possible so I did not strategise or plan, I simply started to write and began to see things change. With the support and encouragement of my friends and the amazing online community i found myself a part of, I hit my goal and could no longer convince myself that I did not deserve the opportunity to try.
So here we are. I felt it appropriate to write a little about my own history with anxiety and how I made it to sitting on my sofa watching Frozen Planet and writing to you now.
I had my first panic attack the day I finished my A Levels. I should have been excited for the adventures ahead: I had an internship in the House of Commons and a 5 month trip to China booked for my gap year. Instead, my entire world quickly began to unravel. Initially I thought I was a just a typical stubborn Taurean and did not want to adapt to the coming changes. I began to have daily panic attacks: the world would spin; I couldn’t catch my breath and I couldn’t be near another soul, despite being desperate for comfort. I felt like I was living in a body that wasn’t mine.
I had no idea what was happening to me and spent most days genuinely scared that I was dying. As I felt the future I had spent the last two years planning slipping through my fingers, I decided it was time to seek help. Upon visiting the GP I was quickly put on anti-depressants, I was told that these were really my only chance if I wanted to attend University and have some semblance of a 'normal life.'. The first night I swallowed that pill, I cried. I felt like I had failed and was entirely hopeless that I would never find a way out of the fog. I stayed on these pills in varying doses for 11 years.
Despite the doctors telling me that they were supposed to help, I never lost that feeling that my body and I were two separate entities fighting every day. For the next few years I simply muddled through life. I got my degree, I dated, I worked but I never felt that I was living in any real sense that I had previously understood. I convinced myself I was working within my limitations, but in reality, I had drawn a very small circle around my feet and did not dare to step outside of it for fear that even this limited life would collapse like everything before it.
I knew that I needed to find something else that would help me regain some control over my life. I had read quite a bit about the proven effects exercise could have on your mental health, so one morning, I put on a faded pair of Adidas tracksuit bottoms I used to sleep in and typed HIIT into Youtube. What followed was the most painful yet amazing 20 minutes I had experienced in years. I felt connected to my body, felt alive.
Exercise has given me strength. Not just the physical but the emotional tenacity to take even the smallest step forward on the days where I felt it was impossible. Anxiety leaves you with nothing but doubt; that you are incapable of getting better. Exercise has taught me this is not the case, it rewards me with victories every single day. If I can deadlift double my body weight then I can step onto a tube train or greet a stranger; if I can push my body to its limits and feel amazing afterwards then I know that sickness; those dizzy spells; they too will pass. 6 months ago I took my last anti-depressant.
Am I cured? No. I still suffer from anxiety, sometimes cripplingly so, but I know myself now, know what I am capable of and how much I have achieved. I feel proud of my body and listen to what it tells me. I know that there will be bad days, but there also can be good and that thought has got me through some very difficult moments. I see a future now.
Thank you for taking the time to read, I am excited to get to know you all!