Hi, reader! My name is Brittany Tempest and I am a fitness blogger at britness.com and Instagrammer at @Brit.ness. For most of my life, I’ve suffered from severe anxiety, and later in life, I suffered from depression.
My story in overcoming my mental health issues is twofold. The first step in combatting my anxiety and depression was to seek treatment from my family doctor. The second was to reignite my passion for fitness. I’d like to take you through both parts of that journey here.
Sitting in my Primary Care Physician’s office in January of 2016, I felt foolish. The anxiety bubbling in my stomach (my grandma calls it the “Tempest Stomach”), which made my palms sweat, should have been a sign that I was not, indeed, foolish. But years of hearing the stigma surrounding anxiety and depression had convinced me that sitting here, in this chair, waiting on Nurse Terri, I was a fool. I was convinced that being here was a sign that I was just another millennial that couldn’t handle the “real world.”
Even my parents (whom I love and I know would support me no matter what) were skeptical. My dad’s response was a huff, and my mom was uncertain at best, despite herself (and later I would find, another close relative) having suffered through the same issues. That’s what the stigma around depression and anxiety has caused: people with a genuine health ailment feel too afraid to seek help because they’re afraid they’re making it up, or they are weak, or spoiled. Too often, this stigma comes at the cost of someone’s life. They don’t see a way out. Their condition is amplified by the feelings of shame and self-doubt associated with their illness, and they feel their hand has been forced.
I’m writing this post to finally put to rest the shame and foolishness I felt that day in my PCP’s office: I live with depression and anxiety, and I am not ashamed of it. I was not ashamed to seek help a year ago, and it changed my life.
My PCP prescribed a very low dose anxiety medicine, and I suddenly was interested in running again. With running came more drastic improvements: I went out and made friends, took Oliver for insanely long walks, made goals and plans for the future. Fell in love. Felt independent and recognize my successes for what they are: successes.
Once my head was clear enough to get out there, the endorphins and release of running did the rest. Running was really the great liberator when it came to feeling fully like myself. Running is where I go when I’m feeling overwhelmed or blue (Chicago has been pretty gloomy lately, so the Winter Blues have been a pain). When I’m running, whether training or racing, I feel free and powerful and strong. I feel like there’s nothing in the world that can stop me.
When I finish a run, I feel centered and “zen,” so to speak. The evenings where I run become the nights that I come home and GSD (get sh*t done). Those are the nights that I power through cleaning, meal prep, my self-care. The fact that something as simple as a run puts my head in an entirely new, empowered, productive space is enough to make me a believer. For me, a small push from a medication enabled me to truly treat my anxiety on my own, by pushing myself to be a stronger and better runner.
Treating my Anxiety and Depression has changed my life, and I’m sharing this post to help break the stigma around mental health and hopefully encourage someone else to make the life-changing and bettering decision to both seek help and find yourself through an activity you love, like I did.
You are not alone, it is not your fault, you should not feel ashamed. Get help. Talk to a friend or family member. See the world in color again.