ATRP is thrilled to introduce our newest contributor, Brittany. She will be discussing mental health issues and her weight loss journey. Please share her experiences, you never know who may be struggling and need to know they are not alone.
I want to start by talking about my personal experience with my anxiety and depression. For roughly 15-years, I have suffered from these mental illnesses. Usually, I dealt with my suffering in silence, but within the last two years I have sought professional help. I found myself unable to cope with all my feelings, with my panic attacks, my pain, the depression, frequent sleeplessness, and thoughts of suicide. Life had become consumed by my mental illnesses and I wasn’t present for my family. The out of control spiralling had to end and I needed help. Seeking help was not just for myself, but for my family. They needed me and I needed them.
Within the last six months I have been put on a total of three different medications to help me with my anxiety and depress. We are an Army family and my counselor at our last duty station helped me so much. That counselor help me keep my head above water! Together we set up a plan for when those terrible thoughts began to creep into my mind — the ones that told me I was a burden and better off dead. I have fought tooth and nail to get back a semblance of a normal life. However, nothing is perfect and my anxiety is alway there. Waiting. This all leads me towards describing how anxiety affects me on a day-to-day basis and how one small thing can send me spiraling.
Like many of those around the new year, I wanted to get healthy and began going to the gym. I started slowly on the stationary bikes, just to see how my knee would handle everything. I felt great and a few weeks into the month, I decided to try something new. There was a short shoulder workout from Pinterest I found and decided to give it a go. After completing the shoulder work, I thought I’d go try-out the treadmill.
My usual routine was to go to the gym in the morning, but I didn’t make it until almost noon! This time of day is extremely busy at the gym. There were so many people in one place and I felt my heart rate spike. But I was able to get the wifi working and began listening to my favorite Pandora station. Once the sounds of my music hit my ears I began to calm down and get my shoulder workout done.
The reps were done without incident and I went over to the treadmills as planned. I got on and worked my way up to a fast walk. Right about that time an older gentleman got on the treadmill right next to me and waved. I began to freak out internally and a million thoughts of self doubt began running through my head. Then the worst thing happened, the internet cut out and I couldn’t get my music up and running again.
When Seconds Feel Like Forever
I saw that I was so close to being finished on that damn treadmill! I only had about three minutes left on my cooldown, but I felt myself begin to have a panic attack. My heart was racing, my breathing sporadic, I had tunnel vision and everything was far too loud. The sounds of everything seemed to be magnified by 100%. I could feel the sounds of feet slamming on treadmills at an impossible pace. The sounds of weights being re-racked echoed through my head. And all around were machines running to the tune of their own mechanical heart beats. It was all too much for me to handle and I began to shake. Tears pleading to overflow the dam I put up.
Two minutes left. I told myself if I could make that first minute, I could handle the final two. I watch each passing second tick by and it made it all the harder to continue one. I was certain all eyes were on me, every person around me judging me.
One minute left. I could run away from everything all around me in one more minute. Those final sixty second felt like an eternity. Every single one of my senses were completely overstimulated. As soon as the timer hit zero, I practically ran to the locker room to grab my jacket and leave. I attempted to come in contact with a few people as possible — I was trembling, speed walking with my eyes shifted down. I didn’t want anyone to see me. I wanted to shrink away within myself.
I wanted to disappear.
Brittany Ivie is living the gypsy life with her active duty Army husband. She is the mom to a curly haired little man and the fur mom to two crazy dogs here and one who crossed the rainbow bridge. She has the hands of an artist, the heart of a child, and is her own worst critic. You can follow her column, “Walking With Anxiety” on ATRP.
This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Cover art by Ian Espinosa from Unsplash.