People deal with stress, anxiety and panic in different ways.
I’ve always been a runner
and not in the sense of pounding the streets in Nikes with a stopwatch.
I run. That’s what I do. When it all gets too much I run.
The two main responses are Fight or Flight. I fly. I don’t do confrontation – I avoid it all costs. So much so, that I barely ever answer my own telephone. My initial reaction to anything that makes my heart pound is to run. Even love caused me to run a mile, which hubby discovered after only two weeks. As soon as real emotion got involved, my poor heart fluttered and panicked and I was gone. I hid, refusing to answer the door, or the phone, remaining cowered inside my heart until I pulled myself together and accepted that I felt the same. Thankfully he hadn’t given up. Now twenty-three years later, he is, and always has been, my rock.
My default setting is to escape, and it’s been that way since I was young. I avoided people, lost in books, writing and drawing as a child. The necessity of school meant I had to run the gauntlet of social activities. I was the quiet one, the shy one, the one in the corner. I didn’t stand out surrounded by myriad friends, but the friends I made at school loved me for who I was.
I ran from school several times. Right out of PE – I ran. After assembly – I ran. I ran with a pounding heart and the desperate urge to flee. I ran with blind panic, with anxiety bubbling inside my chest and with no thought of consequence except escape.
From fourteen I suffered depression, and it reared its ugly head with a breakdown at eighteen. My coping mechanisms crashed and after running for so long, I simply stopped. Getting diagnosed with Post-viral Fatigue/ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – CFS) masked the depression, and allowed me to stop running.
Then I met Vince, my rock. I married young and moved to Wales. If that’s not running, I don’t know what is… Three small children kept me busy and finally gave my life reason. I escaped the CFS after a decade, but my depression and anxiety remained. It took ‘til my thirties, an assault and another breakdown before I faced my demons.
The reasons behind my running emerged and got confronted. The first time I’d confronted my demon, the person I confided in wept, and I comforted them. Then I continued running.
I’ve run from home – just upped and left. I’ve driven away, miles and miles, with no intent to return.
I’ve dreamed, and planned, and run.
I always wanted to escape.
But there was never anywhere to go – so I always came back.
Coming back taught me things. I learned that running doesn’t get you anywhere. It takes you away, it provides emotional distance, but it doesn’t fix a thing. I learned that antidepressants have their place, but they don’t offer solutions. I learned that talking was the only way to move ahead, but the NHS denied me that option. I learned that trust was earned and that the only people who offered me that were already close. I learned that I had value, that I was someone worth loving. I learned to rely on and trust my husband and my children.
They saved me.
I learned that support is much more than a network, it’s real friends, real people who offer tangible love. I learned that one friend noticing and recognising a self-harm scar can ultimately save your life. I learned that to value yourself, you must love yourself. I learned that when you can’t trust or lean on society, then lean on those who love you. I learned to value myself enough to accept help.
When you feel that life is too much, don’t suffer in silence, talk. Talk to anyone who’ll listen. If you can get professional help, do. If antidepressants help, take them. Try not to run, but if you do, always remember those you can trust, those who love you, those who need you.
Thank goodness for those you can come back to.
For help with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression see your GP or Health Provider.
Read more of running away in ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and Etsy.
‘Turn those dreams of escape into hope…’ Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her Mum’s erratic behaviour, she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape, she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. A storm descends, and Meg needs to survive devastating losses.
Wow, intense. I always want to run – daily some weeks, but I never go, for the very line you put in: “But there was never anywhere to go – so I always came back.” Unlike you though, I didn’t learn to lean or trust anyone, in fact I still don’t externally, I don’t see or feel a support system there at all for me, but what I have learnt is to trust and lean on ME! I am there for me, I can comfort me, I can support me internally, which enables me to carry on. It’s hard, it’s lonely, but it works. It’s self-love, and it provides inner-security, a firm inner-foundation I didn’t have before. Now I don’t feel so scared when I want to run and there’s no where to go, I don’t feel so lost or vulnerable. I am able to stop and see what I have around me, how much better off I am from others. Unfortunately though, depending on others has never been an option for me, there are only a handful that haven’t failed me, and they aren’t in the same country as me!
I had two rounds of therapy on the NHS, referred by my GP, 12 sessions a time, 18 months between. It is there, you just have to have a doctor prepared to refer you. I have never been offered medication – but I lived with someone who was, and took it, but he was also given therapy on the NHS. Again, maybe it was the doctors surgery we went to – although two different doctors themselves.
You’re very right, Miranda, about loving yourself…’I learned that to value yourself, you must love yourself.’ When I learned to love and value myself, I was able to make changes to my practised behaviour. These days it takes a lot to make me run, but the urge is constant!
The NHS is a strange kettle of fish sometimes. I’ve got a great GP, and I’ve taken a Stress and Anxiety Managment Course, but that was just six, two hour long, slide-show lectures in a group where no one could offer input except the teacher. Not for me. I already knew the strategies offered, but needed one-on-one help tailored to my problems. Basically, you can get counselling, but the waiting list when I first asked was three years, and the last time, it was still two years. The nature of depression/anxiety is immediate, and if help is not forthcoming you deem yourself not worthy or not badly enough off to wait. You tell yourself, by the time help arrives in two years, you’ll be better. You’re not, but by then it’s another two year wait and a vicious circle where you still don’t put yourself on the waiting list! I was able to get help a decade ago, my church helped financially, and I saw a great counsellor in the field I needed, privately. When I asked for help a year ago, through the same organisation, I was turned down. So sometimes, it’s just as well we have friends and family…and you guys online!
I’ve taught myself coping mechanisms, that work most of the time, and thankfully, I confronted my particular demons a decade ago. Now it’s more a matter of unlearning practised behaviour!
I finished 6 years of one on one therapy last October. It started weekly, and then ended monthly. The Dutch healthcare system, which is insurance based, covered it. My husband pays full private cover – due to the level of his earnings, you get subsidised if earn under a certain level, and as I don’t work he has to pay for me. And he has some extra coverage, so my therapy has been covered almost entirely. I think I have paid 200 Euros towards it, there might yet be a bill this year though, probably be roughly the same.
My therapist told me I had already done a lot of the work myself, but I needed him to help me ‘see round corners’ as I put it, see it from another perspective. But my NHS one on was worth it. GET ON THE LIST! I did have a wait time but it was months – it does depend on your location I think, I was in Northamptonshire then. Although I am talking early 1990’s. Many more people need help these days.
I am always here online. I have another girl here in my village who suffers from depression and self harms. She told me I am better than any therapist she has tried (she has tried a few). She is only 18. She pops up when she needs me, and I respond. I help her rethink, cuz it is all about changing your thinking. It is the only thing we can control! But it’s ALL easier said than done, and I have told her that it doesn’t matter how many times we have to go over the same thing again and again with me, it’s what needs to be done, and she is not to feel bad or hesitate when contacting me. I offer the same to you. xx
I admire your tenacity. ❤ ❤ ❤
You are welcome. ❤
I enjoyed reading this Lisa. Thanks.
Thanks, Pauline x
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