more adventures in running: dealing with anxiety and remembering my star wars motivations

We still don’t know anything about my partner’s grad school situation, and I’m living in a worry-bubble. If you know me in real life, you’ve probably noticed that I only ever talk about two things lately: worrying about grad school or training for my half-marathon.

Obsessing over the half-marathon is absolutely more pleasant than fretting over the potential LIFE CHANGING MOVE TO ANOTHER STATE, so I was extra frustrated when I woke up for my run on Saturday and just didn’t want to go. This past weekend was my longest run so far- 8 miles- and I found myself really anxious about the distance as well as the logistics surrounding the run.

What are you going to eat ahead of time? What if it’s too cold? What are you going to eat afterwards? Will you have enough time to get to work afterwards? What if you can’t do it? What if you can’t finish? What if you’re too slow? 

Blah blah anxiety blah.

So, to cut out some of the stressful middlemen, I decided to pack a change of clothes, take it to work with me, and save my run for Sunday. That way, I could just run straight in the direction of my job, and not have to worry about getting there afterwards. And my run on Sunday ended up being really nice! Hard, but nice.

I’m proud of myself for having been able to find an anxiety workaround, but I’m still a little worried about my motivation slipping. As the mileage increases in my training plan, I know it’s going to continue to be harder to get out of bed and get my shoes on. I’m so nervous in general lately, thanks to grad school limbo, that it’s been hard to find motivation to get out of bed to do anything, let alone run.

As I’ve plundered the Internet for all of the half-marathon training advice I can find, I came across an article on PopSugar that suggested you need a “Why” for running a half-marathon. I know what I have my “Why’s:” bonding with my parents, pushing myself physically and mentally, and, of course, my love of Star Wars.

I know that, ultimately, it’ll be my fierce nerd-feels that get me to that finish line in April. As far as Star Wars-specific motivations go, my list goes ever on and on. I’m pumped at the prospect of getting to positively interact with other members of the fandom. I mean, how can you be a dick about The Last Jedi with all those endorphins coursing through your system? Plus, the thought of running to John Williams’ score has already made me cry excited geek-tears.

It was a piece of John Williams’ music that reminded me of my ultimate Star Wars motivation. “Princess Leia’s Theme” came up on one of my Spotify playlists, and I remembered exactly why I’m doing this race. I saw my therapist this morning, and I realized that, two years ago, I never would have been capable of training for something like a half-marathon. I just wasn’t taking good enough care of myself. I wasn’t putting myself in a position to enable myself to see any hope in my own future, so there wouldn’t have been any point in pouring my heart into months of effort for one crazy-tough, sweaty morning adventure. I didn’t want to be here.

I still experience shame and guilt and defeat over my bipolar diagnosis. Getting that piece of paper remains one of the hardest days I’ve yet to have. Some really excellent, beautiful friends of mine got me through that tough day.

So did Carrie Fisher.

I still seek out Wishful Drinking when I’m feeling low about this disorder. This quote always helps me: “At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”

There have been days in my past when I simply would not have been able to put on my shoes and go outside for 1 mile, let alone 8, let alone 13.1. But I’ve spent years– even the ones when I couldn’t get up– ingesting the lessons of Star Wars and of Carrie Fisher and of my therapist and of my friends and family, and I’m ready to do this now. I have stamina and I have courage, and, when the miles seem daunting, I’m going to put my headphones in and remember Leia.

I’m gonna get my medal, General.

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