Category Archives: Health and Fitness

Back to Square One – Possible Stress Fracture… Round 2.

I wish this post wasn’t even being written, but it is. And if you’ve been reading the blog for awhile, you know all about my foot injury, which happened a year ago. If you don’t know, you can read the variety of posts here:

  1. Sweating Pink – The initial diagnosis and injury (Metatarsalgia)

2. Plans, Diagnosis and Patience – Learning about a potential stress fracture

3. A Diagnosis…. finally! – Navicular stress fracture

4. Reclaiming my Motivation – Coming to terms with my injury

5. Honestly… – Why I decided to seek a second opinion

After a year of treatments, doctors, various diagnoses and zero relief, I found myself back at my orthopedics office this morning. This time with a new doctor in the practice. I made this appointment because as we were running through the Madrid airport back in July to catch our return flight to the States, I felt a pop in my left foot, right where I’ve been having all of the trouble, and immediate pain. The pain lasted for 2 days before I called my doctor’s office. They were unable to get me in, but told me to put my boot back on and take it easy.

Here we are about 5 weeks later. The pain subsided a little bit (or I just got used to it), but I knew the fact that I was still having this much pain and so many issues nearly a year later were not normal.

The doctor and his PA put my foot through a variety of tests (hop test, flexibility, walking on my toes, etc.) along with x-rays. All with varying degrees of pain. And the pain seemed to be all on the left outer part of my foot (below my pinky toe and to the side) and all across the base of my toes on the top of my foot. I had been diagnosed with synovitis in my 2nd metatarsal, and that diagnosis still stands, but they seem to think that it a completely separate issue.

After tests and discussing everything from the last year, and not seeing anything obvious on my x-rays, he decided to order another MRI…. and spend some more time in a boot. Yes my friends, the boot is back. At least this one is shorter, and not as bulky.

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His thoughts?

More than likely the pop I felt was a stress fracture or reaction, and even though the pain is not localized now, but was right after it happened, it appears the pain is radiating. He also thinks that based on what I explained for symptoms from last year, I could have had a stress reaction or fracture in the same part of my foot, but for whatever reason, the bone edema was showing up elsewhere (could have been a possible reaction there too, but it’s hard to say since I didn’t have pain there).

I wish I could say I’m optimistic. I’ve had so many diagnoses in the last year that I don’t know what to think anymore. Part of me feels like I’m over-reacting and I should just suck it up and deal with it. Tell myself I just need to live with it. But the other part of me believes there is something wrong. I’m a hypochondriac. This is a known fact :) But I also feel like I shouldn’t be in pain all the time. It’s keeping me from doing a lot of things I love.  I’m just hoping that this time, I can get a firm diagnosis and a strict treatment plan. If it is a stress fracture/reaction, hopefully it will heal fast. I don’t think I could mentally handle another 3 months in a boot with feeling better.

What’s different this time?

I’m refusing to let it keep me down. Last year, I totally let it get the best of me. I didn’t want to move. I ate whatever I wanted. I sat around and moped. But this time, I’m still determined to keep moving. My good friend is a personal trainer, and I start training with her tomorrow night. She knows about my injury, and we’re going to work around it. I’ll go to the gym, and use the bike. I’ll do upper body and core. I’ll do my best to keep myself focused and know this is short-term. And hopefully the last time. I also know getting some weight off will drastically help my feet and joints feel a lot better. And hopefully alleviate some of the other foot issues.

So, here we go. Operation Possible Stress Fracture… round 2.

Have you ever dealt with a prolonged injury?

 

I’m a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador!

Happy hump day my friends!

I’m really, really excited to announce today that I have been accepted as a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador.

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As I continue to work towards a healthy lifestyle, being accepted to another wonderful women’s fitness community is a total honor. I love learning from everyone involved in the various communities, and they truly motivate and inspire me to get moving! I can’t wait to represent yet another wonderful group!

One thing that really drew me to this particular community was the idea that you didn’t have to be in tip-top form. Instead they want people who are active, but looking at their lives as a whole with a positive outlook. I just love everything this group stands for. So let’s just say, I really am honored to be a part of it.

Read on below for more information about the group, as well as the Ambassador program, and how you to, could apply to be an Ambassador!

About Girls Gone Sporty (from the website)

Girls Gone Sporty is an online editorial magazine and a social community for women dedicated to living and leading sporty lives. In addition to providing cutting-edge content, we’re committed to creating a support system for women who are striving to be their best selves.

About the Ambassador Program

Girls Gone Sporty is a movement and GGS Ambassadors are the driving force required to help spread the spirit of fun and adventure that Girls Gone Sporty stands for. We’re looking for Ambassadors who embrace our tagline, “Live the sporty life!” Women who work hard, play hard, compete and eat, all with the intention of being their best, most positive selves. (Source)

The Ambassadors are a network of women who focus on positive health, not just achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, but encouraging women to embrace whole health and an positive outlook, where they are right at this moment.

The Ambassador program is designed to represent the entire female population, not just a segment. They look for women who enjoy a variety of activities, from walking to lacrosse players to snowboarders to surfers, they want women who are involved in some form of sport or activity that gets you moving! Whether you are brand new to fitness, or have been at it for years, they are looking for you to be a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador.

Interested in applying? Visit here!

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Weekly Workouts and Weigh In {8/18/14 – 8/24/14}

Last week was not a good week in terms of exercise or food. I had great intentions, but a combination of exhaustion from not sleeping well and a sore knee/foot, really kept me from accomplishing what I had hoped. But this week is a new week. Onward.

Monday 8/18/14: 2.8 mile lunchtime walk

Tuesday 8/19/14: Rest Day (Photo shoot in the evening)

Wednesday 8/20/14: 2.85 mile lunchtime walk

Thursday 8/21/14: Knee was bothering me so I took the day off.

Friday 8/22/14: Knee was still bothering me.

Saturday 8/23/14: Stalls at the barn followed by a 20 minute ride.

Sunday 8/24/14: Nothing. But I did manage to finish one book (Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead), read a second complete one (Hysteria by Megan Miranda), and started a third (Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf)

I didn’t weigh in last week either. I knew my weight was either going to be up or the same, just based on how I felt. I also knew because of my lack of exercise, and eating out, it wasn’t going to be any different.

This week though, we are back on track.

 

Weekly Workouts and Weigh-In! {8/11/14 – 8/17/14}

Here is the first Weekly Workouts and Weigh-In post. Not the best week, but it’s okay. This coming week will be better!

Monday, 8/11/14 – 40 minutes Elliptical workout – 3.37 miles: This was the first day back at the gym in quite some time, and my first day working out in over a month. I didn’t want to overdo it on my foot on my first day back, so I kept the resistance low and focused more on time. I was happy to see that I could still go for 40 minutes at a pretty good clip and not want to die. So, the cardio that I built up running hasn’t disappeared entirely!

 Tuesday, 8/12/14: 35 minute Elliptical Workout – 2.88 miles: I definitely was not feeling the gym. The second day is always the hardest for me, and this day was no exception. But I forced myself out of bed and to the gym. Not a super intense workout, but I felt good because at least it was something for the day. I had every intention of starting to incorporate weights this day, but by the time I was done with elliptical, I just wanted coffee.

 Wednesday, 8/13/14: Planned rest day.

Thursday, 8/14/14: 2.5 mile lunchtime walk – I had every intention to get up and go to the gym, but I was exhausted. For no reason. But I walked 2.5 miles at lunch to make up for it!

Friday, 8/15/14: I had my gym clothes ready to go, but after a night of not much sleep again, I decided to stay and bed and sleep. I have photo shoots all weekend long, so I knew I’d be getting some exercise with those with the amount of walking, squatting, etc. I would be doing.

Saturday, 8/16/14: Photo shoots in the evening

Sunday. 8/17/14: Absolutely nothing

Overall, I didn’t exercise nearly as much as I had originally planned. But, I was happy with the few days I did. This coming week will definitely be more exercise overall. I’m making it happen!

Weekly Weight-In

Starting Weight {8/11/14} – 199.0/BF: 44.0%

Week 1 Weigh In {8/15/14} – 196.0/BF:44.2%

Change so far (even though I know it’s only 4 days… next week will be a full week!) – 3 lbs.

I know most of this is water weight, just from changing up my diet, but 3 lbs is still a loss and that makes me happy!

 

What’s On My Bucket List?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself wanting and hoping to accomplish more and more things in my life. And it seems like my newsfeeds are constantly filled up with people accomplishing their own items on their bucket lists. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’ve never put these items to paper (or blog in this case) and thought it might very well be time to do just that. Especially since I want to make sure that in the next few years, these items get accomplished! Make sure to scroll down after since I asked several friends and fellow bloggers for their own Bucket List items too!


Run a 5K: This has been a goal for several years now. I’ve been sidelined with injuries a couple of times and other times my training has just stopped for lack of motivation. So instead of it being a 3 month goal, it’s a bucket list goal.

Learn to Paddleboard: This has/was a goal for the summer, but with summer quickly winding down, and my schedule getting busier, I’m not sure if this will actually happen this year. It will happen though!

Learn to Surf: This has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember. And I plan on doing it before I’m 30. Two more years to go!

Surf in Hawaii, or someplace super tropical and known for their surfing: Obviously this would be after I learn to surf of course!

Travel to new places: Greece (Greek Isles specifically), Italy, Ireland, England, Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, and multiple islands in the Caribbean: I LOVE to travel and explore new places. It’s one of my favorite things to do. If only I didn’t hate flying so much, and if only I had way more money. If I could, I would constantly be exploring new places.

santorini-greece-2Source

Write a novel: I’ve written on the blog before about my goal to write a novel, and publish, before I’m 30. I’ve been working on one since I was 19 (nearly 10 years!) and finished my first draft last year. I’ve been since picking away at editing and hope, and plan, to self-publish it in the next couple of years. Maybe I’ll finish it up during National Novel Writing Month this year.

Have a post or photo go viral: In a world where everyone is linked into social media, and constantly sharing things, my goal is to have something I’ve created get an insane amount of views, and get coverage on Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Distractify, the homepage of Yahoo!, etc. It would be such a huge feeling of accomplishment to see something I’ve worked so hard for succeed in that way!

See my Etsy shop succeed: This one is a bit tough because everyone’s definition of success is so different. But I would love to see consistent sales from it. I know it can take a while for this to happen, but it would be a dream come true to have my artwork and photography consistently selling.

Win the lottery (I’m pretty sure this is on everyone’s bucket list!): And I’m not saying a $400 million PowerBall jackpot. I would be thrilled with a $100,000 Megabucks win! I know it’s an insane longshot, but it’s still on the list!

See a Great White Shark in the wild: Okay, so this is a strange one because I’m actually scared to death of sharks; however, I find them so interesting. And incredible creatures. I don’t want to go cage-diving with them, but I would love to be on a boat and see one. That would be close enough for me.

Own my own horse: This has been my goal since I was a little girl. I’d be happy with a rescue that I can just play with it. But either way, horses cost money and right now, money does not allow for a horse. Hopefully someday!

1923902_514811382155_8773_nCompeting with my first horse when I was about 15 – we leased her for 3 years at High Tail Acres, LLC, where I still ride today.

Those are just a few, okay 11, items on my bucket list! I asked many friends and fellow bloggers what there top item on their bucket list is and here are their answers!


Cara at The Marblehead Marathoner – “My number one bucket list item is to complete all 6 world Marathon Majors ( London, Tokyo, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, New York). I only have Tokyo left!”

Heather at Run Eat Play – “The #1 thing on my bucket list is to run a half marathon. I was training for a half marathon over a year ago and got injured and was unable to run. I did physical therapy, had MRIs and Xrays. I was finally able to run again so a year later I signed up for the Disney World Half Marathon. And then my pain and injury came back. I had to drop out of the race again! Three weeks ago I had arthroscopic hip surgery to shave my hip bone and repair laberal tears and I am still in bed recovering. But I’m not going to let all that stop me! Although it might seem like an easy goal to most people, running a half marathon is #1 on my bucket list and I will accomplish it one day!!”

Beth – “My number one item was to visit the Great Barrier Reef and see it from every aspect. Swim with sharks, snorkeling, diving and sailing. And I got to, while living on a boat for a few day with a bunch of awesome Australian folk. While every night sitting around with drinks, discussing all of the different cultures aboard the boat, with no cell phones or computers… just people.”

Robin – “Cage dive with Great White Sharks”

Lesley at Greater Fitness – “My bucket list goal is the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in D.C. It was the Princess Half in Disney but I crossed that off this year!”

Sierra at Mind Over Matter in This Crazy World – “Bungee Jump”

Kristen at Run Away with Kristen KMy #1 thing on my bucket list is to run a race in all 50 states. I love to travel and think it would be an amazing way to see the rest of the country! Each time I run in another state I get to spend a few days getting to know the area and it’s been such a fun experience. I started last year and I’m currently at 5 and will be adding #6 in September.

Courtney at The TriGirl Chronicles -“My number one bucket list item is to run an Ironman triathlon, 140.6 miles!

Shannon: “To be, work for and represent something bigger than myself.”

Michelle at Trials and Tribulations – “#1 on my bucket list is to achieve my goal weight of 135Ibs. I’ve been working on it for years and still not there! There are so many exciting things to do in life though, I really DO need to actually make a “proper” bucket list!!”

There you have it!

Now I want to know – what is the number one thing on your bucket list?

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The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, then you know I have been battling my weight for quite some time. You’ll also know that for every attempt I’m semi-successful at (and by successful I mean, I lose 10 pounds or stick to a workout program for longer 2 weeks), I end up going back to my old ways, and immediately gain the weight back, plus more. It’s been a nasty, vicious cycle that I’ve attempted far too many times.

So yes. I have a problem. And that problem? I always have an excuse for not focusing on getting healthy. And when I start to, I always have an excuse for why I need to eat that piece of pizza, or devour that ice cream, or enjoy those beers. And then that excuse, for what I considered to be a one-time splurge, quickly turns back into my way of life. Thus, ending my quest for finally getting healthy.

Since we returned from vacation 3 weeks ago, my latest excuse has been my foot’s been bothering me (a continuing issue). When it hasn’t been bothering me, it has been  ‘I don’t have time.’

And those excuses became a problem again. I knew there was a problem because when I stepped on the scale this week, and saw a number staring back at me that, in the past, would have caused an intense bout of crying and a state of denial; but this time, I saw it, and wasn’t surprised. And the fact that I wasn’t surprised, made me realize that it’s time to stop with the excuses and conquer this head-on. And yes, I’ve written/said/thought this a million times before. But something about it this time just feels different.

I’m the only person I’m hurting by not doing anything about it. I’m the only person who will be affected by my weight. I’m the only person that can make myself do this and succeed.

So no, this blog is not going to turn into a place where I chronicle everything I eat everyday. What I am going to do, and it’s purely to keep me accountable, is too post my Weekly Weigh-In’s and my Weekly Workouts. This will help me to stay focused, and know that if I’m putting it out there for everyone to see, I’m going to force myself to stick with it. Because I don’t like letting anyone down.

So today, is the initial weigh-in. I’ll post my Weekly Weigh In’s and Workouts on Mondays. My official weigh-in day will be on Fridays. But for this first week, it will be a weigh-in on Monday and one on Friday, just to get myself on a schedule.

I’ll be taking measurements as well. But I won’t update those nearly as often.

So here we go. And for the record, I hate posting my weight. But, I know it will keep me honest.

Initial Weigh-In {8/11/14} – 199.0/BF: 44.0%

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Why Horseback Riders Make Everything Better

Hello, all! My name is Susie, and I wax poetic about life, running, food, cooking, and how to live one’s life beyond expectations over at Suzlyfe.com. I am quite excited to be guest posting for Eryn today and especially to discuss a few of our favorite subjects, namely, horses, riding, life, and being freaking boss at all of it.

I rode and competed in hunter/jumpers and equitation from the age of 5 until 24. Riding, simply put, was my life. Looking back, there is nothing beyond sleeping and going to school that occupied more of my time–I rode just about every day of the week, multiple horses a day, and horse-showed on the weekends. The last 30 minutes of my time at school were dedicated to counting the minutes until it was time to rush to the car and get on the road, and I  can say that I can change clothes while driving. But that is neither here nor there.

tide-suz-collage

Riding was expensive, could be disappointing, infuriating, and even painful. It took me away from social engagements, put thousands of miles on my car, and seemed boorish to my peers. But everything that riding “took,” it gave back to me. All the heartache rendered from fallen dreams or the loss of a close equine friend, I got back in love, companionship, and the best of life’s lessons. Though I have not ridden in nearly 2 years, I take the education that I received in the barn, in the saddle, and in the paddock with me, and I have found that it has numerous applications to my life, and also to my pursuits in fitness.

Why Horseback Riders Make Better Everything:

We like to be on top. Riders are in the practice of pursuing perfection, but also knowing that there is no such thing–the hardest and best life lesson the equestrian must learn is that you are not perfect, though you may have the ride of your life. Sometimes, you can do everything to a t, and have it just not be your day; sometimes, you can do everything wrong, and it somehow just works.

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We know how to be early risers. No, this does not mean we are morning people. Also, we are the best road trip companions ever because we know all the good exits and we always have snacks.

Riding involves a variable and testy animal that may or may not want to cooperate. Like point number one, some times, your stomach just wants to buck and carry on, even when your legs are in perfect form.

Injuries suck. It is best to be preventative and aggressive in one’s therapy than to push one’s luck and end up in the stall for months on end. Soft tissue injuries really blow. But injections, alternative therapies, accupuncture, and massage can be very helpful.

Proper footwear, use of compression, and well-fitting equipment can take a so-so worker to a graceful athlete. And some are more naturally inclined towards to grace than others.

The early bird may have to feed, muck, and clean up, but they also get first use of the ring, the fences, and all the best brushes.

Carrots, apples, oats, sugar, and molasses are delicious.  And proper diet is key.

Cross training is indispensable, makes you a better athlete, hones your fitness, and prevents injury.

Waking up at 4 in the morning for a workout is made infinitely sweeter when it means being greeted by a friend. Speaking English at said hour is neither necessary nor encouraged.

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A good canter in an open field is terrestrial flying. But control is necessary.

Everyone needs a proper warm up and cool down, as well as a thorough grooming and washing. And equipment should be cleaned and well cared for.

Riding and running are both mental exercises in determination. Hold a sitting trot for extended periods of time, or post without stirrups. You’ll understand.

Sometimes the smallest muscle movements, and control over the smallest movements and weight shifts, are more effective than anything else in achieving desired results. Sometimes, you need a good thump for encouragement.

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Everyone needs a day off and a sense of a training plan.

Oh, I could go on and on, but I will leave you there, except for one last thought:

Riding, like running, fitness, teaches you to respect the beauty of life, of morning rides, of the crunch of feet on a path with no other sound. These pursuits teach us rhythm, sweat, dirt, polish, and panache. And though we may learn everything we possibly can about them, we will never master them. But we can keep trying 😀

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How have your pursuits prepared you for life and your other passions? What has left the greatest impression on you, that you still carry with you today?

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Top 10 Reasons to Try a Triathlon

Today on the blog is a guest post from one of my SweatPink sisters, Michelle at IronWoman Strong. And we’re talking Triathlons. Make sure to head over to her blog and show her some love :)

Triathlon.

SwimBikeRun

That is a sport for extreme athletes, right? Wrong. Very wrong.

I started training for triathlons a year ago after getting married. I went from couch to triathlon addict in two seconds flat! Since then I have grown both physically and mentally. There are so many amazing reasons to get into this sport but let’s just start with 10!

Here are the TOP 10 reasons you should try a triathlon.

1. Try something new

It’s always nice to get out of the mundane so if you have never raced in a triathlon it will be new and excited for you.

2. Sense of accomplishment

There is nothing more satisfying than training hard for a race and then crossing the finish line. It gives you such a sense of accomplishment. The great thing is that the accomplishment is yours forever. No one can take it away!

3. You don’t have to be great in just one sport

Triathlon consists of three disciplines – swim, bike and run. If you aren’t a great swimmer, then you can make up time in the bike or run. Or vice-versa in any of the three!

Triathlon

4. Good influence on others

This is especially true if you have children. They watch and learn from you. If you are out there trying something new and working hard, it will show them that they too can reach for hard things. You never know who you are influencing and motivation when you are working out.

5. Never get bored

You have three sports to choose from when you are training. This keeps you from getting bored with doing the same workout over and over again. Already ran 3 times this week…bike or swim. It will break up the monotony of workouts.

6. Community

The triathlon community is extremely close and very welcoming. Find a local tri club to train with and you will never be short of training partners, advice and friendship.

swim bike run st louisMy local tri club is Swim Bike Run of St. Louis!

7. It’s cool

Who doesn’t want to say, “Oh, hey…I did a triathlon this weekend.”? Major cool points for doing stepping outside the box and doing something new!

8. Get into shape

With three disciplines to train, you are likely to feel healthier and fit. It is hard to eat bad food when you just ran 4 or 5 miles. Triathlon tends to clean up your diet without you noticing.

9. Expand your fitness

If you are a gym rat, then getting outside and running will only improve your overall fitness. Triathlon is great for cross training and allowing your body to build endurance.

10. It’s Fun

Seriously…triathlon is fun. You get to swim around, then go for a little bike and then a run. What’s not to love?

This is an official warning

For those brave enough to attempt a triathlon and do something awesome – triathlons are addicting.

You have been warned!

If you would like to know more about me and my journey on becoming an Ironman triathlete, please follow me!

Website/blog: Ironwoman Strong

Instagram: @Ironwomanstrong

Twitter: @Ironwomanstrong

Pinterest: Trispiration

Michelle

Commit to You

Hi everyone! My name is Amalia, and I blog over at Live Travel Eat and Run. I’m so excited to be here today and to guest post for Eryn!

I want to discuss commitment with you. I have a commitment issue, but not in the traditional sense. I have no problem committing to others and following through when it comes to that.

I have commitment issues when it comes to taking care of myself. From yo-yo dieting, random exercise programs left unfinished, I’m the queen of excuses. I’m the queen of finding other things to do and to breaking plans with myself (unless they involve a nap or a night in with some movies and popcorn).

So here is how I am slowly overcoming that, and a strategy that I recommend for you.

Every day, when I wake up, I make three commitments to myself. They can be big or small but they should be reasonable. On a bad day those commitments can include having a nice hot shower or writing down three things I’m grateful for.

But no matter what happens, I get those three things done. Slowly but surely I am breaking my pattern of making excuses and not making time to ensure that I am choosing healthy living.

So far this strategy is working for me, and hopefully if you struggle with commitment to a healthy lifestyle, it will also help you.

So I challenge you to up your commitment – pick three things to do each day, and stick with it.

Follow Amalia at:

Blog: http://livetraveleatandrun.com

Twitter: @ama_liab

Instagram: @amaelibir

I Am Stronger Than My Anxiety

I’ve been wanting to write something about my own struggle with anxiety. I’ve seen many bloggers out there telling their stories (check out Lindsay Weighs In and Kaila at Healthy Helper for their stories) and I wanted to find a way to do the same. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to do a series of posts, a short post, or something a little more in-depth. So what you see below is what I decided on it. A one-time post about my 10-year journey. A journey that is not over, but has made me a much stronger person. While therapeutic, it was still very hard for me to write. It’s very personal, and I don’t get super personal on this blog. Be prepared; this is a long post, and potentially hard to read for some. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

It’s not the whole story, but rather the more important parts of the story. It’s my anxiety story and I finally feel strong enough to share it.


All it took was one look at the screenshot of a scam viral video and I was in a tailspin. There was no rhyme or reason to it; it just happened. And the worst part, it was an image that I had seen circulating on the web just days before. It wasn’t new to me. In fact, the first time I had seen it, I could have cared less about it.

But that’s the different between a high-anxiety day and a low-anxiety day. On a high-anxiety day, it doesn’t take much to send me swirling towards a panic attack.


The only way I can describe my own battle when I’m in the depths of anxiety is like falling into dark underground cave. As my anxiety starts to build, it’s like falling into the cave, but landing on a ledge so close to the top you can still see the world above. But you’re already starting to struggle to figure out how you’re going to get out.

As the anxiety builds, and the panic starts to set in, it’s like that little ledge letting go and you start to fall deeper in to the cave. Each time you struggle to climb to try to get out, you slip and fall a little deeper. It’s the same way with my anxiety. Just as I feel a little reprieve coming on, something sets me back, and I’m right back in it. Only worse.

Let’s back up to the beginning.

My anxiety didn’t rear its ugly head until I was a freshman in college. Looking back, I definitely started to suffer from some of the symptoms of anxiety as I was growing up and, more than likely, had already begun to suffer from chronic anxiety in my pre-teen years. Even though I wasn’t properly diagnosed until college. When I hit middle school, I was suddenly nervous all the time. Nervous to raise my hand in class, nervous that the teacher would call on me, nervous to get up and ask to use the restroom, nervous I would be late for class, and so on. Just plain old nervous.

In high school, I stuck to my daily routines and lived by the clock. If I had to be somewhere for 3 PM, I needed to be there by 2:45 PM for fear of being late. If someone told me they would be at my house by 6 PM, and hadn’t shown up by 5:59 PM, my nerves would go haywire. Cutting it close to any set time fed my nervousness.

I know, you’re probably thinking ‘You just don’t like to be late to anything.’ It’s true, however; I’ve been this way since I could tell time on a clock. Being late to anything is a trigger for my anxiety. It’s much better these days, but back then, it could send me spiraling.

Once I left for college, my mental issues quickly sprang to the surface. I was now in a world where I had to find an entirely new group of friends instead of living in my happy bubble of high school friends that I had known my entire life. I was completely out of my comfort zone and not quite sure what to do. I stayed in my dorm room, went to class, ate dinner and did homework. It was similar to my routine at home, minus the horses, so I stuck to it. Only it didn’t work.

Most students thrive when they go off to college. I did the complete opposite; I fell apart.

I was sobbing all the time. I was miserable. I hated being away from the comfort of my home. I hated being away from my family. I hated being away from my barn. I hated it all and began to think that going to college 2 hours away was a mistake.

But after about 2-2 ½ weeks, the homesickness began to subside. My parents came to visit. I went home for a weekend here and there. And realized I could do it. But once the homesickness went away, it was still clear to me that something more was going on.

Even after I met people and started to really have a life away at school, things still weren’t perfect. But I hid it under the surface. I smiled on the outside, but was unraveling on the inside. I didn’t tell a soul how I was really feeling, even though I appeared as happy as could be.

That was until I came back from Christmas break.

After being home for a month, and going back, I knew it would be a little easier this time. I had established myself in a group of friends. We had talked all break and couldn’t wait to get back to one another. I was ready to conquer my second semester of college.

Instead, I was met with debilitating depression and anxiety. I knew something was wrong.

I couldn’t snap out of it. All I wanted to do was sleep. I didn’t want to go to my classes. I found myself taking every opportunity I could get to drink with my friends. I wanted to escape how miserable I felt.

In the end, after a massive blowout with my roommate at the time, followed by a typical night of college fun (except it wasn’t so fun for me), my depression and anxiety finally showed that they were here to stay.

The next morning, I called my parents, sobbing. I was hungover, but told them I was sick. Like so sick that they needed to come take me home. I just wanted them to come get me; help me escape how awful I was feeling.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t stop crying. They drove the two hours out to see me; to take me out for lunch thinking I just needed to get out (seriously, best parents ever. Love you!) I was just homesick again.

I stopped crying long enough to get in the car and get to the restaurant. Instead of eating, I broke down sobbing in my mother’s lap in the middle of the restaurant. I was nearly 19-years-old and losing it in a busy local restaurant on a Saturday afternoon.

I wasn’t just sick. I wasn’t just hungover. I was having a nervous breakdown. I needed help. And I needed it immediately. We all knew it.

We paid the bill, and back to campus we went, where I packed up whatever clothes I needed, any school supplies so I could keep up with my schoolwork and anything else I needed. (These were the days before iPads and laptops… think desktop and iPod mini).

I said my goodbyes to friends, explained what was going on, and off we drove back to the eastern part of the state.

While driving home, phone calls were made and appointments were set up for therapy and medication. I was on my way to getting better.

I spent a week at home. I like to call it my ‘healing week’. My professors were incredibly supportive and understanding. If I didn’t keep up with the schoolwork, they promised to let me make it up when I came back. I just focused on feeling better, and feeling more like me.

I read. I went to the barn. I wrote in my journal. I saw the few friends that were still lingering in my hometown. I spent time with my family.

I just tried to remember that I was on my way to better.

And when I went back to school, things DID get better. My roommate apologized, and became incredibly supportive when she discovered what was going on. My friends rallied around me, both at home and at school. And I began to see that I could get through this. And I did.

Fast forward through the years:

I’ve been on and off medication three different times. The first time I went off was while I was still in college, around sophomore year. That only lasted about a year.

I ended up back on a new medication during my junior year of college. I ended up spending another week at home to get myself ‘better’ again. Thankfully, I hadn’t suffered a breakdown like the first time. I just knew something was not right, and wanted to fix it before it got worse.

The second time I came off it was in 2009. I did it cold turkey. I just stopped taking it. I was in a great relationship (with my now fiancé), I finally started to find my way, career wise, and I was just happy. I felt like I would be fine without it.

In 2010, I realized that my anxiety was getting worse again. Nothing had changed in my life, but I found myself falling back into that hole. I tried natural remedies (turns out I’m allergic to St. John’s Wort). I tried therapy, which didn’t help. It turned out I needed to be on medication. So back on it I went, for another 3 years, until this past May.

After learning the medication I had been on, on and off for since my junior year of college, had a side effect of weight gain and knowing that I had been having a really hard time taking the weight off, I thought back to the various times I had gone on it and saw a possible correlation between gaining weight and being on the medication. I made the decision, with the help of my doctor, to switch to a new medication. Unfortunately, this one didn’t help (in fact, I felt worse), so I decided it was time to go without again. I wanted to see how I would do.

I mean, I’m happy. I’m in love. I have a great job and a great life. I have the best support system there possibly could be. I would be totally fine without it.

6 weeks later, I’m back on it.

Turns out, I’m not totally fine without it.

But what have I learned? I am STRONGER than my anxiety. Yes I need to be on medication, but I will not let anxiety control my life. I won’t let it. It certainly tried during my six-week hiatus without medication, but I refused to let it win.

If I’m not on a low dose, my anxiety essentially takes over. And it doesn’t feel like I have control over my own thoughts. Unless you suffer from anxiety, or something similar, it’s pretty hard to explain or describe. Even with the medication, I still have to fight it. It’s just enough to quiet it. It’s still there, waiting to come out (and believe me it does), but it’s not constant like when I’m not on medication. And when I say constant, I mean from the moment I wake up until I fall asleep at night.

If you know me, you know that I’m really good at hiding when I’m suffering with a horrible bout of anxiety, or dealing with it at all … unless I say something. Only those closest to me know when I’m having a hard time. I’m much better about talking about it now-a-days compared to 10 years ago.

If you don’t know me, you would never even know that I suffer from it (you do now!). It’s not visible on the outside. It’s an internal battle.

But it’s a battle that I fight day in and day out. And I am the strong one in the fight. No matter how hard it works to bring me down and break me, I am always able to stand up and fight back.

I am STRONGER than my anxiety.

 

Have you struggled with mental illness? How have you overcome it? I’d love to hear from you!