*Disclaimer… This post is extremely personal and real. So brace yourselves, but I do encourage you to read the whole thing, because it has a happy ending.*
Alright, friends. This post is not easy to write. But here it goes…
I haven’t been completely honest with all of you, especially recently. When I started this
blog a couple years ago, my goal was to share my story of overcoming an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression through running.
And that endeavor went well. But my story spanned two blog posts and I didn’t really have a plan from there except to write when I felt inspired. So I did. And I enjoyed it. There was never any pressure to get a post out, and I always, always wrote from my heart.
Side note: For those of you who may not know, I do not get paid to write this blog. It’s not my job. I have a full time job that I absolutely adore and work with some of the most amazing people in the world. This blog is a hobby. It’s meant to help others and acts as a form of catharsis for myself as well. Who knows, maybe some day I’ll charge money for guest posting on other blogs or for promoting products. That day could be soon. I’m not too sure. But at this present moment I am not making money off of this blog. It just doesn’t feel like the right thing to do.
Anyways, up until the beginning of 2016, I took a casual approach to this blog. Then, my world was turned around a bit. Have you ever had one of those life altering moments that makes you completely change the way you live your life? I did.
The Catalyst to Change
I was dating a guy and I was in love, as most good love stories start out. And there was no one who could ever compare to him. At the time, at least. But much to my chagrin, I was looking through rose-colored glasses, unable to see just how rotten the relationship was.
There was continuous fighting and controlling. Lack of trust and an incessant need to always be in contact. I felt insecure and a bit crazy for the majority of the time. In my heart, I knew it wasn’t the right relationship for me to be in, because my heart couldn’t rest easy when I was around him (and especially when I was away from him… going back
to the whole trust thing). Yes, I’m typically an anxious person. Yes, I’m a busy body. Yes, I like to always have something going on. I’m not talking about that kind of unrest. I’m talking about the unsettling kind. The kind that sits deep within your soul and flickers a light every now and then reminding you, “Hey, something isn’t right here.” But you ignore it, as young love prevails!
Ugh. ALWAYS LISTEN TO THE FLICKER. It’s never wrong.
Anyways, as the months went on the back and forth between loving and fighting continued… until the fighting outweighed the loving. One dark and stormy night (totally serious, it was dark and down pouring) things went south. And fast. I’m not going to go into the details. That’s not the point of this post. And while I do hope to share this story of emotional and mental abuse and how I continue to fight the negative thoughts that sometimes run rampant through my brain because of it, I do not believe this is the time or platform to do so. But if you are going through something similar or have gone through something similar and would like to talk on a personal level, please feel free to reach out. I do the best I can to respond in a timely manner!
So, yes, it was a dark and stormy night the night that we had a fight that served as the catalyst for what led to two months of straight up hell. There was verbal harassment, stalking, a slashed tire, and extremely hurtful things said on social media and to my friends and family. I spent two months of my life living in utter fear. I should’ve acted sooner. But I didn’t. Because I was naive and just straight up petrified.
I continued to try to live my life as normal as I could. But during those two months, I never knew when the next thing would happen. I lived with a constant pit in my stomach. My family, who all live in NY, were extremely upset and worried, constantly texting and calling to make sure I was ok. Finally, there was a straw that broke the camel’s back (again, not going into details), and I mustered up the courage to stick up for myself and get a restraining order.
I am safe. I am fine. I am so, so much better than I ever was before. And like I said, that story isn’t the point of this story. It’s just a piece of it.
The Actual Change
But that was the chain of events that made me take a step back and reevaluate my life. I ramped up my therapy, because, let’s be honest it was a pretty shocking occurrence. I surrounded myself with my most wonderful friends and family who did everything they could to make sure I was safe and happy and living the best life I could. They spent hours listening to me as I played and replayed what happened over and over again, trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Was I really all of those things he called me? This was my fault, wasn’t it? I drove him crazy. I drove him to do this. I should’ve had less anxiety. I should’ve done this or that.
Conversations like these lasted months. But then I got to the point where I’d talked about it enough. I’d said all I could say. I’d thought all I could think. And, quite frankly, I could tell my friends were over it too. He wasn’t a threat anymore. He was long, long gone.
But throughout the healing process, I was told two things: 1. No dating (not shockingly that advice… or demand… came from my father, but I was totally cool with it) and 2. I needed HOBBIES. To which I replied, “Uh, I have tons of hobbies. I run and write and work.” But was met with, “No. Like something you can throw your heart into.”
Enter this blog.
The Year of the Blog
In 2016, blogging became life. Just ask my roommate. I used all the wi-fi (sorry, Kayleigh). But it also became somewhat of an obsession. And not in a, “I need to write” way. But more of a, “How can I make this bigger? How can I get more followers? How can I prove I’m successful?”
Not so genuine, right?
But what used to be fun work turned into busy and stressful work, and I started losing myself. I told myself that all free time must be spent doing something productive – working on my blog, working for work, reading things that would make me better, working out. Work, work, work.
I stopped going on dates. Who had the time? I didn’t care to get to know anyone.
I stopped enjoying time with my friends. “There are so many things I need to be doing right now,” I’d tell myself.
I started comparing myself to others. “Wow, she’s really successful. I need to be as successful and productive as she is.”
I started plastering my happiness and positivity all over social media. Because that was my self-proclaimed “job.”
I started obsessing over numbers. And for the first time, it wasn’t over calories or the number on the scale. It was, “How many people are coming to my blog? How many people are liking my Instagram posts? How many followers do I have? How do I get Google Analytics so I can track every post and optimize my content to what my demographic wants?”
Heartfelt blog posts started becoming content meant for mass distribution.
And while in some (many) instances that kind of content is a great thing. It’s not for RunningMyselfTogether.
And then it turned into, “What are my 1 year goals? My 5 year goals? Where do I see this in 10 years?” And everything I did had to be brought back to those goals. “Does this follow the path I want this blog to take?”
And as the year went on, the stress began to build. Writing and running were no longer my forms of release. Nope. They were now added to the slew of societal pressures I put on myself. Blogging was a rat race to the top. The top of where you might ask? I have no idea, but I was determined to get there.
Then, I got injured and my world came crashing down. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t release the anxiety that had started creeping in over the summer. I couldn’t find inspiration for my running blog, because I wasn’t running. I became depressed.
Yup, I said it.
Even the Happy Are Sometimes Depressed
I found a new therapist and started working with her in tandem with working with a PT. Mind and body restoration. But it wasn’t working. The PT was only helping a little, and the therapy was helping little to none. I was living a life of constant hustle and bustle filled with to-do lists and continuously checking my phone for the next dopamine hit.
And as things began to spiral downward, so did I. I retreated away from social activities. I found it hard to concentrate on anything or anyone. It was difficult getting out of bed and even harder sleeping through a night. I started having panic attacks. I became obsessed with cleaning and organizing and making sure everything was perfect. I was crying. A lot.
I was falling into my old habits.
HOW!? I’d yell in my head. I’ve overcome this already. I know all the tricks of the trade. I know how to get through this.
But what I didn’t realize was that I was living somewhat of a lie. I had my normal every day life. And then I had my social media/blog life. The life that painted this picture of, “I’m a beacon of positivity and hope and if I’ve overcome all those nasty things, so can you.” But in reality, I was struggling, and struggling hard.
It wasn’t until quite recently that I came to this realization. I’m not being genuine and truthful with myself or with my readers. I’m leading them to believe that I don’t still struggle, and I’m failing to acknowledge the fact that I still struggle, and sometimes on a daily basis.
We, as a culture, have become obsessed with our phones and technology. We stow away into these false realities, only to reemerge feeling down, depressed, anxious, because of the fake images we are bombarded with. I was adding to that. I was plastering smiles everywhere, when sometimes I wasn’t feeling so smiley.
I found it hard to keep up. To keep up with everyone I was watching around me on social media succeed at what felt like EVERYTHING. I began living in the future, completely missing what was going on around me.
And I felt the repercussions down in my soul. I was not happy. I was anxious. I was stressed.
But, I’ve made a break through. With the help of my loving therapist, I realized what I was doing to myself. I wasn’t living my truth. I wasn’t being me. I wasn’t being genuine. I was living a show. But now I know, and going forward I’m never doing that again.
My point here, in sharing all of this, is to tell you the truth. To apologize if I have ever, ever made you feel an ounce of jealousy or down about your own life because of a social media post. I’m here to tell you, it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. I’m here to share with you some very painful things, in hopes that you’ll open up and get the bad stuff out, as well.
I’m also here to say that, yes, this may be a seemingly negative post in a sense, my life is not negative. My life is filled with beauty, wonder, and amazing things. I am a daughter of God. I know all of those things.
Sometimes, depression tries to convince us otherwise. We can’t let depression win. We just can’t. If I didn’t talk about depression, what kind of mental health advocate would I be? It’s real, but it doesn’t have to be our reality.
So going forward, I’m going to be honest, genuine, and real. I am happy. I am being truthful when I share positivity on social media, but up until this point, I was only sharing half of the truth. Half of the story.
If you’ve made it this far, I thank you. Thank you for reading my story, and sharing in my pain. I am happy. I am blessed. And I love you. And get ready for more real, genuine stuff.