Running Through Emotional Pain

I spent almost two solid years full of anxiety. It was a very bad time in my life. However, there was one thing that would make me feel semi-normal during this period, and that was running. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, etcetera – running may not cure your sadness, but it can help you cope.

During my anxiety, I was a full-blown mess. Nothing brought me joy. Even the times I knew I should have been happy and grateful, I felt too nervous to be happy because everything could come crashing down around me. Every day I woke up knowing that today would be the day my life would forever change for the worse.

But then I found running again. A friend talked me into a 5k – my first race – and I started training. During my runs, I had a solitary focus and that was making it through a mile or two without stopping. It felt good to forget my emotional pain to focus on physical discomfort.

As the miles got easier I was able to think less about getting through the mileage, and more about my emotional issues. During my training runs I started thinking about what was bothering me. I focused on my pain and tried to process what was making me insane. I couldn’t always see the big issue, but I could always work through the problems of the day. I could run into the face of my rage, my anger, and my fears.

Somedays I would lose track of time and mileage as I spent my entire run inside my head. As anyone with anxiety can tell you, suffering from it makes you sick of yourself. You get so tired of the endless negative self-talk. The weeks, months, years you spend trapped inside a mind that lies to you.

A normally introverted person, my anxiety made me shy away from people even more. I couldn’t trust anyone around me. I saw betrayal in every face. How could anyone care about me when I cared so little about myself? There were only two exceptions to this, my family and my running friends.

Running events were very special to me in this period of my life. I got to be something other than my daily sick-self. I was a runner. I was strong and capable. I met my goals. I was good enough. I entered every race I could find within a 35-mile radius, just to feel a day’s worth of elation.

Ultimately, I was able to cure my anxiety only by removing myself from the bad situation I was in. I am finally back to myself, and I feel really good. With that being said, I don’t know how I would have survived as long as I did without having running as an outlet. It was really the only thing that enabled me to work through my problems. It provided me with a method to deal with all the bad and to still find enjoyment in something.

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, please seek professional help. It’s a horrendous thing to go through, and you don’t have to do it alone. Exercise has been shown to help you get through the dark parts of life, and I encourage anyone with anxiety or depression to try it.  But also find someone you trust to talk to about your feelings and fears. Even if you don’t know why you don’t feel good, it can help to verbalize things.

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About Liz Ward 101 Articles
Liz Ward is a running fanatic, avid reader, and amateur farmer. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband, three kids, and a small herd of animals.