That mental block (fear) and 5km:
🎶 Am I the only one I know, waging my wars behind my face and above my throat? 🎶
- Twenty One Pilots
I froze while pushing our toddler in the buggy, along the sidewalk, with my wife. She looked at me and asked,
“Why have you stopped?”
“What do I do?” I replied, “There are people walking towards us on the same path….”
It may seem strange, but I was paralysed, unable to process how to go around the oncoming obstacles. Unfortunately these behaviours and fears became more and more commonplace in the years that followed. Slowly, as time went by, I lost the things I found pleasure in. I stopped surfing due to the crowded waves, skateboarding due to others also skating on the ramps, and fishing due to being seen by other people. Failing to hold down jobs and school, we decided as a family to relocate to Europe. Now 18.500kms away from the world that I grew up in, I was without any hobbies or outlets to help relieve the pressures of life.
As with anything that builds up pressure, there will eventually be a breaking point. Mine came in the autumn of 2011, the first day of school after the kids summer vacation. Unable to keep the lid on my frustration, for the sake of my children, I made a decision to fight back. With no other options, I decided to go on a run. The first obstacles to overcome would be buying running clothes, being seen by other human beings, and spending money on myself. I was so fearful of my skin being seen that I brought long tennis pants and a long sleeve shirt. To make things worse, I would only buy them if they were on discount, so to my wife’s dismay I ended up buying white ones. Returning home I found my old trainers, put them on, and without really knowing it I took the first steps to taking control again of my life.
When you have become socially reclusive and afraid of the world that surrounds you, sometimes the best way to deal with your fears is by getting out there and facing them. At this time (pre-diagnosis) I didn’t understand why I was so fearful, but I knew that I was. Fear of being seen, wet shoes, traffic lights, failure, being too slow, smelling, looking silly, and being different, just to name a few. The decision I made to fight back kept me going strong, and within 4 weeks, I began to feel the benefits that came from running. Serotonin, our natural physiological high was clearing the space behind my face and above my throat. I was gaining confidence in myself again. The 5km mark had been achieved and I was starting to become a bit less constrained, more aware, and pushing back against the fears that were holding me down in life.