The ‘What if’s’

This year I have registered myself for an incredible challenge. In June, I will be participating in a 100 km ultra-run. Over the course of the run, I will gain and lose 20,000 feet in elevation. I note the ‘lose’ part because running down hill on trails is just as hard as walking up them! For comparison, the CN Tower is 1, 815 feet in height and I will be running over 10 times that.

I’ve been fairly open about the following aspect of my life; approximately 8 years ago, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  At that time in my life, I checked all of the boxes under the heading of G.A.D. Today, 8 years on, I have gone through a myriad of stressors, up’s and down’s and am currently riding high above the once overwhelming aspects of the disorder. However, there are little creatures, stressful left overs which are still plaguing my psyche. I have labelled them the ‘what if’s.’

Today, the ‘what if’s’ are representing themselves as I plan and train for my race. At 4:30 am this morning, I started panicking about the 5:00 am start time that is set for the race.

What if I can’t get there on time? What if I don’t sleep well the night before?  What if I need to go to the bathroom?  What if I’m feeling sick? On and on and on and on.

8 years ago, this would have continued all day and into the next night. Now, in the wake of 8 years of experience, I literally crush the ‘what if’s’ with a hammer. Drastic picture but that’s what works for me. They are wrong. They are negative. They are defeat. They are failure.  They are insignificant. Therefore, they are worthless. I only wish I could have known that as I struggled with them years ago.

I can’t quite place when or where, or even who would have told me this, but I do remember being told ‘learn from my mistakes’ many times in my young life. I ignored most of them. I wish I hadn’t. So, here it comes, Learn from my Mistakes!

Anxiety is a real thing. It’s an injury that doesn’t come with a bandage or crutches, but it is crippling. A common aspect of generalized anxiety disorder is catastrophizing or thinking of the worst possible case scenario, even though the likelihood of said scenario actually becoming reality is very low. That’s the ‘what if’s.’ Acknowledge that they exist, give them a persona and crush the life out of them when they pop up.

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