My finger hovered over the delete button for quite some time before I finally decided that these words needed to be published. I share so much of my life here, but most of what is shared is the put together product of my life without the messy underside that isn’t so noticeable if I don’t let it be.

Anxiety is a constant reality for me. I have a successful career, am a good mom and wife, write a growing blog that I am very proud of, make time to garden and run and care for others. But running as an undercurrent of all of that is my near-constant companion: anxiety.

There are days where it’s almost or completely non existent, but then there are other days where it threatens to overwhelm and consume me. I share the writing below with my neighbor as I was debating whether or not to publish it here, and she told me that until I’d started opening up to her about it in the last few months, she didn’t realize I had any anxiety at all and that I was just “totally put together” pretty much all of the time.

Those words stuck in my head and made me realize that even someone I’m close to and see every week, and oftentimes many times a week, doesn’t know what’s laying just beneath the surface, than my wonderful readers here can’t possibly know what I don’t show them.

My life is busy, full, and most times wonderful, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with hard things as well. If I’m going to share the good and uplifting here, then I feel that I need to be radically honest as well about the rest of it.

I wrote the below on a particularly hard day. My husband, who is one of the only people who has been fully privy to those hard days, picked up our son from preschool so I could run as long as I needed to settle myself down. I took off down the trails behind our house and I found myself again for one more day.

Running From My Anxiety

This is what a high anxiety day looks like. To anyone else, it looks like a quality, productive day at work. A day supporting friends. A day cuddling my son and sending him off to a day at preschool. A long run through beautiful woods on a beautiful day.

From the outside, you can’t tell. I’m busy and productive and supportive as always. But all of that comes on a day where I feel like I’ve had a live wire strung through me all day long. Where I look down at my hands and I’m surprised to see that they aren’t shaking.

It’s a day where I can get a lot done while at the same time feeling like my heart is going to jump out of my chest and I can’t breathe. It’s a day where I text my husband to pick up our son at preschool because I need to be by myself for a little and I need to take care of me and I need to run and feel the miles fall away.

It’s a day where music and podcasts don’t accompany me because they add to the anxiety. It’s a day I change into my running gear and lace up my shoes and tell myself I just need to go for twenty, thirty minutes and then I’ll feel better.

And then I’m out the door and into the woods and suddenly I can breathe again.

Ten minutes. One mile down. I can hear the birds singing. Two miles down. The sun is shining and I notice it filtering down through the trees. Three miles down. I notice the dirt and the flowers and my breathing is easier the longer I run. I no longer feel like shaking, I no longer feel wildly out of control.

I keep running and let the miles trail out behind me, dropping pieces of my anxiety along the trail. I’ll pick them back up later for sure, but for now, as my legs start to burn and the sweat drips down my face, I feel free and centered out in the woods. My soul is light and I can really breathe again.

High Functioning Anxiety

I don’t feel every day so intensely as the day I wrote the above. But on many days, that live wire thrums off in the distance just inside my awareness, ready for one word or one moment to pluck it into existence.

In some ways, I think my high functioning life comes from the same place as that high functioning anxiety. When people ask me how I’m able to get so much done in my days, I tell them it’s because I don’t watch television and I don’t sit down much. While this is true, that drive to keep moving isn’t always one that comes from my want to do more things, but instead it comes as a way to cope with that background anxiety.

When I was getting ready to share this post, I sent my words over to Bethany at His and Her FI and we talked a bit more about what anxiety can feel like. That you can never stop moving because you have to stay ahead of the out of control feeling that comes on some days.

As Bethany put it: You can’t be at rest. You need to do something with that intense feeling.

There are days I talk about wanting to slow down and be less busy, but that feels in some way the luxury of someone who doesn’t feel things so intensely, that can really relax and breathe and just let things be. I feel hours and days of that, usually outdoors, either on a long run or disconnected on a long weekend camping in the woods. But most days, that busyness comes as a way to fill the cracks and keep the anxious thoughts at bay. And then I’m out the door and running down the trails again.

Ironically enough, writing this post, while cathartic in parts, has also given me some anxiety knowing that I will be pushing “Publish” and sending it out for all to read, my hidden pieces of me laid bare. As Bethany also said to me, being vulnerable online is terrifying.

But it’ll be worth it.

*Running is a form of coping but not the only one. Medication, as well as regular therapy, can be powerful, important parts of tackling anxiety, and while it’s not a road I’ve gone down as of yet, it’s one I expect to explore in the future. Mental health is a tricky thing, and something we all experience differently. And for me, now that I’ve gotten over the mental hurdle of accepting that medication can be a very positive thing, I now have to get past the hurdle of finding the time and effort – and courage – of dipping my toe into those waters.

97 thoughts on “Running From My High Functioning Anxiety

  1. Thank you for sharing this with your readers. I have people I love who have anxiety and I appreciate you putting into words what that may feel like for them. I really appreciate your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable.

    1. Thank you so much for this comment – it was hard to publish this one but it ultimately felt like I needed to share it ❤️

      1. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Angela. The ‘never sitting still, needing to be moving’ feeling is one that I understand. It is worse on the weekends (ironically) when I don’t have to work to distract me and out my energy into. Not that you need it, but have you read First We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson? It honestly helped me understand my own anxiety so much better. So many of my habits and patterns I thought were just weird personality traits are actually responses to my anxiety. Anyway, thank you for having the courage to write about this, I know it’s not easy!

      2. Will definitely be adding that one to my reading list. You know, until I’d gotten a couple book recommendations in response to this post, I’d never considered reading about anxiety. Thinking I should.

      3. I’ve found it super helpful actually. Reading about other people’s experiences with their own anxiety helped me feel less alone and like there were more options for how to cope with it.

  2. Thank you for sharing, Angela. I don’t think I ever thought about running as a anxiety-relaxing activity, but it makes total sense! Especially when you have woods as gorgeous to run through as these. 🙂

    1. The woods themselves can be their own kind of relaxant, but some days I need the combo.

  3. Like your neighbor, I would just have assumed you had your stuff together all the time.

    I have been ever so grateful for people who are brave enough to write about this because I never knew what my mom was living with, she didn’t have the words and if she did she never would have shared them with me in a misguided attempt to spare me pain, nor would I have recognized it for myself when the symptoms manifested for me. The first time, twenty five years ago, I thought I was having a heart attack. Now, I can recognize the symptoms in myself or when friends describe them and understand at least the fact of what’s happening to us. And your sharing will likely help someone else who hasn’t had the vocabulary or the life experience or knowledge to understand what’s going on and how to cope.

    I know it’s scary to be vulnerable online but in matters of health, and even sometimes with family stuff, it’s been the one place where mostly people are supportive and caring. I hope that’s also your experience ❣️

    1. If even you, who knows me well online, didn’t know this about me, then I definitely need to write this post. Thanks for sharing your family struggles – it helps me be brave.

      1. I knew you had experience with and knowledge of anxiety but I most definitely didn’t realize it was an undercurrent through your life as you’ve shared here. Hugs. We have a lot more unlooked-for, unexpected support than we could have ever foreseen, don’t we?

      2. That is so, so true. As much as this community *can* be problematic at times, it’s absolutely been a positive force in my life above all.

  4. You are not alone. So many of us fear the stigma, the judgement and that only contributes to the anxiety we feel. I’m glad you have found running as a healthy way to control the feeling. I’ve battled it off and on for years now and I know running helps me as well. For myself and my family I need to get out there more often than I do. Kudos for pushing the publish button. I think you will find many followers are in similar shoes.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing. And yes, I definitely need to get out on the trails as much as I can. It may not “fix” it, but that time helps so much.

      1. Thank you for sharing, Angela. Just today I learned that someone I care about was diagnosed with a mental illness, which I never would have guessed. It is an important reminder that we rarely know the whole picture. I really admire your self awareness and agency in seizing those moments to run.

      2. Yeah, it goes to show how clearly you can’t know what’s going on inside someone’s mind unless they want to share it with you. Thanks for always being so supportive 🙂

  5. This was a brave and important post Angela. I fully support anyone who shares their mental health stories—it’s how we’ll help break down the stigma.

    I suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety with the birth of both of my sons. It turned into chronic depression and anxiety when my mom died soon after Kid 2 was born.

    I’ve since managed to beat the depression, but the anxiety is a tougher beast to slay. While I’ve learned how to manage it with meditation and good sleep habits, it always looms in the background.

    Your post has shown how beneficial self-care is. It’s hard for highly-motivated people like us to slow down and make time for ourselves, but it’s what’ll heal us.

    I’m with you in your struggles. Keep up the fight!

    1. I’m with you on the post partum anxiety. You’d think I would have expected it since I’ve struggled with anxiety since well before my son was born, but it hit me like a ton of bricks in those early months.

  6. The three men in my life (my husband and two boys) all live with this feeling all the time, and it’s so hard for me, because I don’t usually feel this way. I definitely notice my husband’s inability to be still and do nothing–like you, he gets a lot done because of it, but I know he’d like to just be able to relax and enjoy life without being plagued by that low-thrum anxiety. He talks about the rare moments when he’s been able to feel not anxious, and how amazing that feels. Exercise, but more importantly, regular exercise, are really important for him, but not always possible because of his travel schedule for work. Medication has also been a game-changer in so many ways, although it took a few tries to find the right medicine and dosage. Thanks for sharing your struggles and how it feels.

    1. Thanks for sharing the outside perspective of this. It’s not something my husband “gets” either so it’s an interesting spot to be in. Medication is definitely something I’ve toyed with in recent years but even the process to get there is daunting.

  7. I have 2 friends that work in the field of ecotherapy and to hear them speak of the power of nature is inspiring. It is good to hear you have found a way to manage your mind and body to control your mind when it races away on you. Although being in the forest is a mindful partner in your healing path, I think one of the biggest steps you have made is letting those around you know. Like the roots and the branches of the forest weave through one another creating strength in unity, so will you with your openness to those around you. We all struggle but the hardest battle is sharing that with others and you have made that leap. All the best as you find your path on this journey and I am thankful you have shared the healing power of the forest.

    1. Have you read the book “Last Child In The Woods”? Fabulous take on the importance of nature and fits right along with what you’re saying here. And I definitely feel better and more centered on the days I spend more of my time outdoors, regardless of what I’m doing.

  8. Thanks for sharing Angela. Know you aren’t alone in this. People in my life have told me the same thing that they think I’m completely composed, and they thought that based on the way I go about my day, “nothing ever gets to me.” It’s crazy how far from the truth that is, as some days I deal with crushing anxiety where there is an invisible weight on my chest dragging me down. I’ve been getting better about identifying this and sharing my thoughts and struggles with family and friends and that certainly helps. Nature does have a funny way of helping out with this too, and that seems to help many people.

    1. It really can be crushing, can’t it? Sometimes I’m impressed with how invisible it can be though when it feels so physically present.

  9. I think it’s so great every time people can show more behind-the-scenes of their lives. Especially for high functioning folk– because people can’t see the difficulties you face every day. Thank you for sharing your own story and struggles. You are certainly not alone.

  10. It is so important to share different experiences with the world. Hopefully this post helps someone understand what they’ve been going through, or helps someone without anxiety be a better friend or partner to someone with anxiety. Stay strong my friend! ((hugs))

    1. ❤️❤️❤️ I love and hate that so many have been able to relate to this post. And I shared it with my husband as well because it’s the first time I’ve put down into words how it really feels.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this Angela. I never would have thought you struggled with anxiety from reading your posts.
    I can relate – I also get a lot done on my more anxious days, but I would love to just be able to stop the racing thoughts. Not a runner, but walking in nature also helps me breathe.

    Thanks for writing and sharing this.

    1. Thank you so much for being one of my regular non-blogger commenters. It means a lot that you share your thoughts here. Wish you couldn’t relate, but glad I could share something that hits home for you. I think nature always helps, no matter what you’re doing outside. For me, anyway 🙂

  12. Oof. It’s me. Glad you shared this! Anxiety is an asshole, but it sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Leaning into those anxious days, doing your best to run it off & not being too hard on yourself! 🙂

    1. Thanks for the support, friend. It always helps to have someone to talk to who understands as well ❤️

  13. I find writing about my experience to be cathartic too. That’s one great side benefit of blogging. I think it’s great that you can go run and feel better. When I’m anxious, it leaks out. I can’t hide it at all. Exercise helps a lot.
    Best wishes

    1. I guess I’ve had a lot of years to get good at hiding it 🙂 But you’re right, blogging can be very cathartic.

  14. I really appreciate this post, and can appreciate how difficult it was to write. I think (maybe I’m wrong!) if you asked most of my friends and family they would say, “That Dave is really put together! Great job, coaches youth athletics, keeps in shape, has lots of friends.”

    But what they don’t know is the crippling anxiety I fight against almost every single day, and that the reason I exercise and keep so busy is so that I can exhaust my brain or at very least keep it too occupied to trip over it’s own feet.

    Good luck, and thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Well, it sounds like you can 100% relate to this post. Glad it helps, but also very sorry that it helps because that means you know exactly what I’m saying and feel it too.

  15. Glad you found an outlet to help you cope at least somewhat. Now I really think it’s a shame you can’t go running more often with your busy life!

    I have moderate anxiety. I fret over every little detail, but I don’t shake or have panic attacks. I just pace sometimes or have to busy myself with something (usually multiple things) to keep my brain occupied on something else. But once it’s quiet again, the anxiety can return.

    I don’t really have an outlet for it except to cope with it by the aforementioned distractions, but it seems to work okay. That said, when I finally find a psychiatrist that takes my insurance, I plan on asking about… I think it’s called Buspar? It’s an anti-anxiety med that isn’t a benzo. I wonder just how much extra energy I’d have if I didn’t spend so much of it on worrying and being tense.

    Take care of yourself.

    1. Yeah, I find that a quiet brain is an anxious brain. Yoga actually has helped me out there in the past, but again, time makes it hard for me to go these days. Running is easier because there aren’t any set times or length of time compared to a yoga class.

  16. I’m sorry to hear you have this struggle. Obviously, you are deeply into serving and helping others while also working extremely hard on yourself and your projects. I hate to think anxiety can rear its ugly head in your life or in the lives of those like you. You articulate it very well though, so it’s relatable to people who – for any reason – have had a shiny exterior while scraping by inside. I’m glad you are willing to share both the hardships and the successes in your life. As a reader, I really appreciate this balance on your blog in addition to your realism.

    I’ve had tight pains in my stomach lately. It’s definitely anxiety. I was able to process this out loud with my husband the other day, and sometimes I think it comes more from “self-imposed” blogging goals than from my actual work. That was an interesting insight for me, although I’m not sure what I’ll do about it yet.

    P.S. I retweeted this article, but I know you enjoy comments as well:) Thanks for all you do.

    1. Hey – thanks for the retweet as well as the comment! As you well know, I tend to land toward the positive, but I felt like this needed to get out and be shared as well. Thanks for always reading and supporting me here 🙂

  17. Thanks for sharing your story. Being vulnerable is never easy, but I’m convinced it’s the best way to build relationships and a community. Everyone is going through something and it always helps to hear/read about the struggles we all have. Helps us feel not so alone in the world. It helps us be ok with not being ok.

    A few years back, I found myself in a difficult relationship. No one close to me had a clue. Everything was perfect in their eyes.The relationship ended and I felt broken. But the best thing to come out of it was that I was broken open. I discovered that healing was easier when I was vulnerable and open with those close to me. Doing this helped me form supportive and strong relationships with those around me which get through a pretty darn tough time.

    So thanks again for sharing your story.

    “Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we have” – Oprah.

    1. I absolutely agree with this – there is nothing that can compare to a solid and supportive community. And that community is so much more real if we share the stuff that isn’t so easy.

  18. Oh, Angela. I am so proud of you for writing this. It is a difficult thing to be laid bare, to expose our vulnerabilities…and yet we all have them in one way or another. It is truly a courageous gift you’ve given to others, for I believe it is in our authenticity that we connect on the deepest level. I loved the book, “Carry on Warrior, The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life”. In it she talks about revealing her personals struggles to a friend when she was going through her own struggles. She says: “There were so many layers of my armor and her armor between us that we couldn’t touch each other. And even if we’d wanted to, we couldn’t have gotten close enough because we were shooting at each other with stories of our “perfect lives”. Suddenly this all seemed completely ridiculous. Life without touching people is boring as hell. It hit me that maybe the battles of life are best fought WITHOUT armor. That maybe life gets real, good, and interesting when we remove all the layers of protection and walk into the battlefield of life naked.” I get that. One of my favorite quotes (although I can’t remember the source) is, “Why are we here, if not to help one one another?” Good for you for being real. I love you. Aunt M. ❤️

    1. Love you so much ❤️ I’m going to have to look into that book. But I absolutely agree – that human connection is what it’s all about.

  19. Wow, thank you for sharing, Angela. Running and nature are a great way to manage anxiety to a high degree and I’ve always relied on exercise to control those feelings. This is so timely as the past few months I’ve come to the realization that I spent all of my life running from my anxiety by being an overly productive person and also doing super hard core physical activities in whatever down time I had – Bikram Yoga, Half Ironman distance tris, half marathons, full marathons, snowboarding 20 plus days a season. The movement and heavy physical workloads kept the anxiety in check but not in the most healthy way. Having a work optional lifestyle has helped my anxiety though I find that I get anxious about different things now. The interesting thing was that right as I stopped working, my desire to do hard core physical activities went almost completely away. I found a new yoga studio which has hot yoga but it’s more restorative and 8-10 degrees cooler than a Bikram studio – it’s still hot but not headache inducing. And the yoga is still physically demanding but in a different way and I feel like my body is responding more positively. I haven’t felt the pull to sign up for any triathlons or even a 5K and I do almost all my cardio outside now, I think because I don’t have some sort of training agenda I’m following. I’ve even slowed down and don’t want to snowboard as often and when I do go, I take more breaks. It’s almost like the lower anxiety levels produce less of a compulsion to want to push myself to the breaking point.

    Regardless, thank you for sharing. I’m sad that you suffer from anxiety but you aren’t alone and I think the lifestyle you have created is helping you manage your anxiety in a healthy. Having more space in my days and weeks has allowed me to not feel that constant sense of time urgency. I have so much work to do exploring how I can better manage it!

    1. We hadn’t had this conversation, but from subtext of busy life + tough workouts made me wonder if you related to this at all. I’m sorry you do, but I’m glad that this touched you. Thanks for sharing, as always.

      1. Check out this article. We aren’t alone. “By flooding the consciousness with gnawing unpleasantness, pain provides a temporary relief from the burdens of self-awareness”.
        https://www.outsideonline.com/2229791/why-are-most-endurance-athletes-rich

        The entire article is interesting and I’d like to read the book Shop Class as Soulcraft at some point.

        But I think in general anxiety stems from not being outside enough, not getting enough physical activity and the way many of us women are wired/indoctrinated (I can’t decide which word is better) to be AMAZING at everything we do causes us to question our abilities across the board.

      2. Thanks for sharing it – I’ll definitely check the book out as well. And the nature bit is certainly part of it.

  20. Angela,

    You have no idea how much this resonates with me. Bethany put it perfectly: “You can’t be at rest. You need to do something with that intense feeling.”

    This is pretty much my daily struggle. Whereas my fiance loves to settle down with a good book, and could do this for hours on end, the second I start to rest I get an unsettling feeling that I need to be out accomplishing something.

    In many ways, much like yourself, my daily runs help me to cope. And while this is an overall healthy and positive way to cope, I do often feel it is still just avoiding the problem by continuing to engage in activities that enhance my sense of accomplishment and minimize my constant anxiety levels.

    One day, I’d love to be able to say I’m in so much control of my anxiety that I don’t *need* to use running as an outlet. I’d love to be able to calm my mind, meditate, and enjoy the process of relaxation. But until then, I’m taking baby steps. The other day I took a “gratitude run”, where instead of allowing my mind to drift to all the things I’m anxious about, I focused on a different thing I was grateful for every mile of the run.

    I’m wishing you all the best in your journey to finding more peace and calm in your life. Continuing this conversation is incredibly important, so thank you for sharing.

    Elise

    1. Reading is the one thing I can usually settle into (though not during a particularly high anxiety period). I love the idea of a gratitude run and I think it’s one I’m going to take and use in the future. So thank you for that 🙂

  21. It’s okay to not be okay! And I think it’s great that you shared the post & didn’t hit delete! We are all here to support each other. I wrote a post about how I’ve struggled with body dysmorphia my whole life and was completely blown away by the positive response I’ve gotten from everyone. I could never have imagined that. I hope you’re also being surrounded with love from your readers and that it is helping to affirm your decision to “post” and not “delete”!!

    1. Oh, I missed that post of yours! I’ll have to go back and find it. The one troll comment I did receive was one that didn’t reserve a response and thus got the delete button 🙂

  22. Great post, Angela! Appreciate your willingness to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. I definitely relate to this feeling. I think everyone has their stresses, people differ in their ability to remediate. I also enjoy running and I’ve found that if life gets busy and/or I get lazy and I haven’t gone out for a run in a week or two, it starts to affect all facets of life. You might try some meditation as well. I’ve only dabbled myself, but sitting for even five minutes and focusing on breathing has immediate benefits. Keep up the running. Do you have a race on the calendar?

    1. The meditation bit is something I’ve gotten from yoga classes in the past, and these responses have me wondering if I shouldn’t push harder to find that time in my life, even if it means a YouTube video in my house before the kiddo wakes up in the morning.

    2. Oh – and no race on the calendar! It has been far too long since I’ve run one.

  23. Thanks for sharing your experiences and feelings and know that you’re not alone Angela. I too suffer from anxiety and probably depression sometimes as well. I haven’t blogged about it because as you say it’s hard to be vulnerable and I’m also not sure I want to take my blog there. But I might.

    Keep running. You read my blog (which I’m very grateful for BTW) and you know how much I write about running and cycling and fitness in general. To me those activities are where I rebalance my brain and my mental state, and I don’t know what I’d do without them. And as I always joke, I get to have extra pizza too so there’s that.

    I also recommend running without music. It let’s you think, and really dive deep into places you might not go if you’re distracted by your favorite song. Plus you also stay more in tune with your breathing and your body in general.

    1. I wonder if most of us who are seriously into fitness (and the outdoors) come to it as an escape and then find out how awesome it is. And I’ve started running with just my breath more often these days. I don’t always want that, but it’s a different experience when I do.

  24. What a great post – honest and genuine! It takes a brave person to share the areas she feels most vulnerable about. You continue to impress me, my friend!

    It just goes to show that you never know what truths lie below the surface of any one person. As I read this, I found myself thinking back to a time back in my school days. I felt so overwhelmingly sad on the inside but on the outside I put on such a good happy show that I gained the nickname of “Sunshine.” If my friends and teammates only knew how low I felt on the inside… obviously, I hid that side of myself well. Now, I am always suspicious of people who seem too happy or too “put together.”

    Thank you for your honest words today. I bet a lot of people related to your message.

    1. Thank you, friend. I really appreciate those words. It was so hard to publish this post, but the support today has been nothing short of incredible.

  25. Wow, this is so honest and well-written. Thank you for sharing it.

    I’m fortunate that anxiety isn’t a frequent companion. But, I do have days where I feel that constant need for motion, and on my hardest days I love to get out on the bike and spin the miles away while my brain just turns everything over. I can’t imagine having that feeling more intensely or more often. I feel for all those who do. I’m so glad you have a partner that understands and supports – and this a good reminder for me to be better in supporting my partner.

    1. Thank you! And yeah, those days happen often enough that you learn ways of coping, even if you can’t stop them from coming. And that support from my husband is huge.

  26. Thanks for sharing this! I can understand that it was very difficult to write, but I hope you can draw support from all these responses ( and all of us who get to see you in person 😊). So many people fight this battle… One of my younger relations is nearly housebound by it, and I worry about how it’s going to affect him long-term. Great post!

    1. Thank you 🙂 In some ways, it’s easier to write to “the internet” than to the people you know you’ll face later in person.

  27. When I was a kid, another kid in my neighborhood who was my age had crippling social anxiety to the point where he could only play with us neighborhood kids in his home. He never went to school, but for a few years we could play with kids from the area. Sadly, as we approached middle-school age, his symptoms got worse, and even hanging out with us became overwhelming for him. I never really understood it then, as I was too young, but I knew I liked him, and I knew he was a good guy, if a little odd. We were sad when he started saying no when we tried to play with him.

    I am a veteran, and am related to many. I have heard many stories from many tough men who saw combat and faced life changing anxiety for decades to come. My grandfather was in in France, and was severely wounded in the throat after a few months of combat; his unit deployed to France 7 days after D day, and he was shot for third time in September of that year. The first two were “scratches” as he called them. He didn’t leave the hospital from the last one until December of 46. The loud revving of a motorcycle engine, or a sound like it, always made him jump and grab his throat. He only spoke of his experiences near the end of his life, when I decided to follow him and my father into the military. When my father volunteered, it was too soon for him. Not even my grandmother knew everything he said to me.

    Another man I know, a very large, but kind, veteran of the recent wars can not sleep without strong medication. Too many memories keep him from sleeping. He’s lucky, though as his wife is supportive, and aside from that, most of his issues are under control as well.

    I use those experiences, people I know personally from different times, and vastly different situations to say this, I do not value one person’s struggle more than another. The only question is what help do they need, and can they get it. I am very happy you had the strength to post this article. I am very glad that you clearly have the support you do. I hope that you continue down the path you are on, and I pray that others find the strength in reading this to get the help they need.

    1. So many of us are fighting battles, but some of them are more visible than others.

  28. Beautiful post, Angela. I am very sorry you’ve suffered & struggles with anxiety. You said it, mental health is tricky.

    However, by opening up, you are giving others the freedom to admit their struggles too. There is healing in the sharing.

    Occasionally when I lie down at night I think what the heck am I doing putting all my vulnerabilities on my blog. Then I get an email from someone thanking me and opening up about their or struggles. I am reminded then why I do it.

    Thanks for being you & sharing you with us.

    1. Thank you Deanna ❤️ Your words are also doing powerful things in this world.

  29. Thank you for sharing. I feel this way from time to time, although not as often as my husband does. We use cardio exercises to calm down as well. My theory has been that the exercise makes the body movements congruent to the heart palpitations. Then the cool-down allows the brain to create the proper feedback loop to slow the racing heart. At least it’s a healthier outlet than things we’ve done to cope in our youth. Life is difficult when the mind/body don’t cooperate. I appreciate your vulnerability and hope this community remains a safe place for discussion.

    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂 This community has been an overwhelmingly positive and safe space in regards to this topic, which makes my heart so happy.

  30. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s not easy to talk about health issues, especially mental health issues in a public space — how great that every comment is so positive and supportive!

  31. Great post Angela and thanks for sharing this. It’s great you have your blog as an outlet to open up about your anxiety so it can provide others reading this to understand what you and others that have it are going through. We are all here to provide the support for you and know that you can always be as open you want to be with us.
    I am glad that exercising really helps out get you through it. I love how running provides a chance to enjoy the outdoors and your surroundings.
    Stay strong friend!!

    1. Thanks for your support, friend. Wasn’t an easy post to share but all of you made it much easier.

  32. This hits home so much! It took me going through pretty sever post-partum anxiety to realize that I’ve suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and also for such a perfect description of that terrible feeling on days when it gets really bad.

    I’m still on a journey to find ways to better manage it, and from this post I do believe you have already taken great steps since you are able to share with those around you when you need to take care of yourself on those harder days. It’s not a small step to be able to recognize this and to find/put in place ways that can help.

    I’m a message away if you ever want to discuss some things that have been helpful or anything! 😉

    1. I may take you up on that – even perhaps we can just check in with each other on rough days 🙂

  33. I hit a really rough patch last year. I have always had anxiety but usually it is situation controlled. Not this time. For three months, I noticed that for a few weeks each month I felt like I was behind a wall screaming (inside my head) and my body hummed with tremors that no one could see. I flirted with the idea of medication because I was desperate, but decided to see if I could find any natural ways to deal with it first. After a ton of reading I figured out my hormones were off. The 10-14 days before my period were the most hellish so it had to be that. First I cut out caffeine (that was the biggie) then started taking evening primrose oil, Vitamin e, turmeric, Vitamin b6, Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc combo, Ashwangandha(sp?), Vitamin b8, Vitamin d, Vitamin C, and a huge dose of Magnesium. Something worked! The next month my anxiety level was cut in half. The only problem is I don’t know which ones helped, so I keep taking them:)
    *Another thing that helped was meditation and calming essential oils. While I know that I will always have my anxiety with me, it is more manageable now. I hope you find your way to peace soon.

    1. Very glad you found a way to work through it. I think there’s no one easy answer and it’s very individual. Much different than say I broken bone 🙂

  34. Thanks Angela. I am a psychologist (please list therapy before medicine! So much better to try it first! 😁) I appreciate hearing this because so many of the anxious women I work with do things like running to cope. To me, I struggled to understand why doing something that gets you heart racing would help with calming from anxiety (I’m a runner too). It is elucidating….

    1. Oh, I didn’t put them in any particular order 🙂 And I do plan to go the therapy first – I think we go too often to the medical route for any kind of ailment before really vetting out alternatives.

  35. i really feel for folks who experience this, as somebody who leads a relaxed life. it makes you realize how lucky that is. i find that writing this content regularly for public consumption makes you take more stock of all the little parts of your life that you might just have on auto-pilot. it’s a double edged sword n a way to be more aware but to just be a little dumb about some things can have you worry about them less. i’ve got some warts and damage and have always been drawn to people who are or have been a little busted up or bruised. i’m glad the running helps.

    be well.

    1. I think we are all a bit bruised – it just depends on how much we let that show 🙂

  36. I think it’s so important that we talk about mental health and how we’re living our lives through it. I truly believe everyone has some type of mental health issue, they may not know it, but the more we can see ourselves in what others share, the better we’ll be able to get help. You’re great <3

    1. Thank you lady ❤️ I think the fact that we’re starting to talk more regularly about these sorts of things is a very, very good and important thing.

  37. I too feel a lot of anxiety and I use exercise, less caffeine, and on days I make it a priority, medication to help. Anxiety reminds me of those numbers they call at the DMV. I usually have a main culprit I’m thinkg of, like jobs or money, and then once I “tackle” that, the next “number” is called out…”now serving #2, you that mole you have is probably cancer…” lol! Just letting you know you’re NOT alone!

    1. Yeah, anxiety is the reason why I’ve completely given up caffeine. Occasionally I’ll slip up and it won’t take very long to remember why I usually steer clear. I don’t need any help on that front 🙂

  38. I followed your blog because of this post, and because we are also on the (slow) path to FI! After having a baby (over 2 years ago), I found anxiety creeping back into my life. So much panic, racing thoughts, and the inability to sleep. For me, it was hormones and a switch in birth control made all the difference in the world. It also got rid of the terrible headaches that blurred my vision. I think it’s extremely important to keep talking about mental (and reproductive) health, so thank you for posting!

    1. Absolutely nothing wrong with a slow path to FI! Often that’s the more mentally healthy path anyway 😉

  39. Thank you so much for your honesty and courage in posting this. ❤️ I’ve been having a difficult time dealing with much the same as a single mom with health issues who is beginning this financial Independence journey. I’ve been successful, weathered many storms, and most people are shocked or don’t even believe me if I bring up the fact that I struggle with anxiety. I felt better after reading this to know that I’m not alone.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. So many of us who seem “totally out together” are struggling with things outside of view.

  40. Glad to have read this. I don’t have anxiety (perhaps a little social anxiety/awkwardness), but I struggle with depression (not officially diagnosed, but it runs in my family. Some days it is hard to get out of bed, (other days I self medicate with alcohol) but I need to since I am a husband, and a father of four, and they rely on me. I can’t tell you what an effect exercise, and in particular, running have had on me. My wife remarks all the time how much of a difference it makes, so I seek to run (on a treadmill) every day. In addition, I love to get outside as much as possible, even if it is just sitting out back or out front of my house. As I have gotten older I am convinced that we all have some issues in our life and finding things other than medication (when possible) to deal with it is so refreshing. I am so glad you wrote this and even happier I came across it. We all just need to remember that we are not alone……

    1. Exercise and outside time are definitely such big factors for me. Thank you for sharing and you are very much not alone.

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