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Just Breathe…

Hi, I’m Jen. I am the person behind the page @anxiousandadventerous on Instagram. I am a 26 year old PhD Student living in the Midlands. I started @anxiousandadventerous to document my journey with getting help with my crippling anxiety, and celebrate when it doesn’t hold me back. It’s lovely to meet you. 


I think I have always suffered with low level anxiety- I am your classic worrier. The “did I turn that off?” or the “have I offended so and so because they haven’t replied?”. It always seemed quite normal to me, I’d never really thought anything of it. However, over the last 6 or so years it got progressively worse. My worry wasn’t sporadic anymore. It felt like a constant pressure on my chest and constant butterflies in my stomach (which I renamed worriflies, because these weren’t the beautiful little creatures that we think of). There was nothing I could do to shake that feeling of dread and impending doom, it was relentless. This was just the start of my uphill battle.I started running accidentally, if I’m honest. I started to support my step-mum who wanted to find a local running club. I was only meant to go for one session originally. What I didn’t realise at the time was that it actually helped me more than I could ever appreciate.

Panic attacks soon started. The physical manifestation of the anxiety that I had been hiding for so so long. The irony of them is that you are so keen to keep it a little secret that the worry makes you feel worse. It can be a vicious cycle. I got to a point where some days I could not leave the house. A lorry going past the front window, or a kid on the way home from school with their parent would have me fleeing the lounge and running for cover under the duvet. Just pure sheer panic and over the smallest of things. I would get to the office and sit in my chair and the oh so familiar sense of breathlessness would overwhelm me. This was not living. I was existing. Pretending. Hurting. Silently needing help.

Panic attacks can be vicious and not just because of the hyperventilating. The post-panic attack headache and extreme exhaustion can be so debilitating. This was a side of anxiety that I never knew existed until the panic attacks were mine. It was quite a traumatic experience and could knock me out for a whole day, sometimes even longer. I just felt vacant and like I was on autopilot. Who can function like this?

I had loved my running club so much. I used to enter tonnes of events, and I used to run with my sister and step-mum. It was just great. I was sadly injured and so was unable to run for 6 months and then life took over and I regrettably never went back. However, a year later my friends started doing couch to 5K, aware I wasn’t myself and was struggling, they encouraged me to start with them. So I did…

Well, I have never enjoyed the thought of going running, and sometimes even when I am running, I am not totally sold, but afterwards? There is no feeling like it: the pink cheeks from the cold winter air, the sense of achievement and the freedom it gives you. There is no feeling like it.  It was sometimes the only thing that got me out of my ‘anxiety smog’, even if it was just for that 15-20 minutes. The same Jen never returned home as the one that left. Now, I am not saying it was the big magic fixer of all of my problems, but it gave me hope and gave me enough of a boost to see a small glimmer of light in the overbearing darkness. I am now on an anti-anxiety medication and receiving therapy. I am finally starting to feel more and more like my old self every day. It is still a rollercoaster of a journey, but it is one I know I can run, and it is one I know I don’t have to run alone. I would encourage anyone who is in the same position to grab their trainers, give it a go and just breathe. I think you’ll be surprised at how much it can change your life.

 

Jen { aka Anxious and Adventurous x

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