I’ve been so blessed in my life with people who love and care about me. One of the downsides of my anxiety has been at certain times I’ve withdrawn, not just from them, but from society at large. Let me paint a picture for you. December 22, 2013. The last day of Hollywood Park running. I had stopped taking my medication a few months before, had slowly stopped going out to dinners, social events, going to GA. I was struggling massively with my anxiety, especially at work. Calling races had become a chore. Well this day, for some reason when I woke up I was extra anxious. I remember standing in line at Subway before the races getting my sandwich and feeling like I was going to fall over my legs felt so weak. At work that day I was struggling…bad. Adrenaline and cortisol were pumping through my veins, and not in the fun way. After the 7th race I called our Assistant Racing Secretary/Back Up announcer Jerry Kohls (maybe the nicest guy ever) and said “Jerry I’m really not feeling well and I need to go home.” Jerry came and filled in an I went home and tried to calm down, but just never could. I sat in the parking lot of Outback Steakhouse and waited for my curbside order, I’d gotten into this habit because even going into restaurants or the grocery store now equaled anxiety attack. I watched Vic Stauffer’s tour de force race call of the last race from Hollywood on my telephone (Thanks CalRacing.com) . I cried the entire time, but not because of being sad Hollywood Park was closing. But from being sad that my life was closing. My life had become staying in the house, on the computer, and only venturing out when I absolutely needed to. Two days later, scared to leave my house and feeling sick from all the stress hormones, I called in “sick” to Christmas. I spent Christmas alone in my apartment. I had a microwave Chicken dinner for Christmas Dinner, while my family, who I love more than anything ate a delicious meal and my cousin Jenna brought some hippy organic dish.
I was crying everyday, the weight of depression coating me like a warm blanket. My weight was out of control, my life was a shell of what it had been and could be.
So I did the only thing I knew to do. I reached out for help. I called Devora, my long time counselor and asked if she’d see me. She said she would. She also said “you have to find someone to help get you on a proper medication and level. You need to see a trainer and a nutritionist. ” Those were her “conditions” and they sounded like torture, especially the personal trainer. Exercise to me is voluntarily giving yourself a panic attack. Getting your heart rate up mimics the start of a panic attack in my warped mind. So I went and saw the nutritionist and looked for a medication provider. I found both. I saw both. I started taking medication again. Why I ever stopped, I have no idea. I guess I wanted to prove I could beat my anxiety all on my own. I’ve always taken a low dose anti-depressant and never taken Benzos. So this time, they gave me a much bigger anti-depressant dose and magically…I started to feel better. I’ve been working with Annie Petrillo, who is a wonderful provider and she’s been so caring and understanding with my hesitations about medications and been a rock through the process of starting with taking literally a crumb to now taking a therapeutic dose that’s helped me feel light years better and be out and about doing lots of fun things again. Annie rules!
So now came the personal training part. 7:30 Am. Tuesdays. Monday night before it started I was sick with fear. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to even go. Alarm went off at 6:30am. Yeah…I really don’t want to go to this. But I put on my shorts anyways. I drove to the gym. I went in and sat down and watched this blonde woman named Laura McKeand intensely motivating her client on the treadmill and doing it loudly (did I mention intensely). I was ready to walk out immediately. The last thing I wanted was someone yelling at me to do something I already don’t want to do (Dad Flashbacks!!). Laura knew Devora my counselor and Devora had warned her I believe that I was a “special case” and I warned Laura of the same. She said “ok let’s get on the treadmill and walk 10 minutes for warm up.” “Ok Laura…but just FYI, 10 minutes on the treadmill is usually my whole workout.” So after that ten minute walk I sat down, trying to keep my anxiety in control but it was getting bad. So then Laura says “Ok we’re going to do some squats.” Squats?!?! Are you fucking kidding me? Squats?!?! So ten squats later my legs were shaking like a leaf in the breeze, my panic is in full flight and I say “well that was fun Laura, I’m gonna step outside.” I sat on the bench trying to compose myself as I started to cry. Laura came outside and told me it was ok. I stood up and said “nice to meet you, I’m leaving now,” and I ran to my car. It sucked. I went home and laid in bed the rest of the day. Squats. What an evil bitch! Well I went back again the next week. For that first month or so my “workouts” were slowwwwly getting better, eventually moving up to 15 minute walks and about 3 or 4 different exercises. Then some 20 minute walks and 3 or 4 different exercises. I would come in on Thursdays by myself and try to mimic my tuesday workouts with Laura, but I never pushed myself much when I was alone. The first hint of anxiety I was out the door. After three months of working together, we went on a 40 minute walk and did ten minutes worth of exercises. The last couple weeks we’ve been doing 20 minute walk warm ups and a couple sets of 6 or 7 different exercises, working out the full 50 minutes. Today, our last meeting together before I moved, Evil Laura hands me dumbbells and says “here now we’re gonna do two sets of 10 squats with you holding these and when you come up each time do a shoulder press with these dumbbells.” Squats!?!? with dumbell presses at the top? Two sets? You evil evil woman! Evil Laura.
I’ll tell you about Evil Laura. She’s got a heart bigger than her biceps. She was an amazing confidant the last few months. She pushed me gently and at a pace that allowed me to improve while not discouraging myself. She took it in stride when I ran out of there in a panic and would even text me to say nice job in a moment when I was feeling as though I failed. We got take walks and talk about our worlds. Our families and friends. 15 Tuesdays ago I would have told you I hated Tuesdays and if you would have told me I was never gonna see Evil Laura again i would have said “thank god!” Now, having seen her for the last workout this morning, I’m feeling sad that next Tuesday my alarm won’t go off early and make me go workout with her. I always watch fitness shows and people gush over the trainers who help them. As far as I’m concerned, I wasn’t paying Laura for training nearly as much as I was paying her to be an ally in bettering myself. Which I suppose is training. Anyways, she’s fucking amazing and I’m already sad I won’t get to call her an evil bitch again for when she makes me do squats. Fucking squats.