I Run A Lot

By Linda Fulton-Burgess
Linda Fulton-Burgess

I guess, I have been on the fence for a long time about sharing my story and mental health struggles. I mean, don’t we all have baggage,  issues, challenges in life? Some people have so little, been through so much, and seem so happy……..

They seem to cope so well with things and feel so confident,   I have never felt that way.

I have always felt alone…… socially awkward. I lacked confidence and didn’t realize why or how. I do now. I was diagnosed with GAD, Generalized anxiety disorder, depression about 12years ago. But I have been on medication, on and off for about 20 yrs.  I do better with medication and exercise. 

I have suffered a lot of loss and drama in my life too. My parents split up twice and my brother and I lived in an apartment away from our home, Dad and friends.  I married young and divorced, raised a daughter, who I don’t see. Lost my Dad, and only sibling. My mother is all that is left from my birth family, and she has mental health issues, and refuses to get treatment.   I don’t have cousins, close relatives here in Nova Scotia, so I am all my mom’s got! And, sometimes, the responsibilities and worry with my mom can be overwhelming……..

Anxiety can take over. I was on blood pressure medication,  anxiety medication, but it didn’t seem to be working. Doctor told me I had to make some changes. I listened.  I used to run a bit in high school and decided it would fit my busy schedule. I wasn’t committed to any class, I could just fit a run in whenever it was convenient.   I started running from telephone pole to telephone pole, walked a bit and continued. Before I knew it, I was entering my first race, The Berwick 5miler! I struggled to finish it, but I did! I surprised myself! My husband and son were there to cheer me on. It was an amazing experience,  and I felt so proud of myself and grateful for the family I have now. I decided then and there, I had to keep running. 

I felt WELL, happy, relaxed and excited about the future! I was so lucky to meet a special friend at that race too, Stan Sarty, of Mountain View Runners.  I joined their running group, and so did my husband and son!. 

Now we are training 5 days a week. We are on running plans from an amazing coach, Amanda Austen Nash.  We got help from a great nutritionist, Helen Macdonald and changed our diet. Learned to fuel our bodies healthier.  We have done many races in the past 2yrs. Now my husband is training for his first full marathon! And I am doing the halfs.  I hope to do my first full in the spring of 2020.

Life is extremely difficult sometimes and many of us don’t have the support system of family and friends.  We don’t understand ourselves and what we need to be healthy and happy. We isolate ourselves and become victims to mental illness.   If I have learned anything, it is to TALK! Find someone who understands mental illness, a teacher,counselor, doctor, friend, family, anyone who will love and support you. If your family doesn’t support you, find an adopted family. You have the right to be well, and take care of yourself.   Find YOUR tribe.

I still have depression and anxiety,  but it doesn’t control me. I have learned to manage my symptoms: worry, heart palpitations, panic attacks, headache, stomach issues etc… with therapy,  medication and lifestyle changes. I do still take medication, but a lower dose and seem to control my anxiety much better with exercise and running. If I feel overwhelmed,  I take a break, and do what I have to do for myself. Even if I offend others, I look after myself and have learned that is not selfish. Self care is necessary to be well!

I have learned to love myself , I have learned that there are others like me. I am not alone and I am much stronger than I thought

Hope to see you at the races!