Managing my PTSD through Running
I don’t describe myself as a creative person. For this reason, I have immense respect for those who share their creative gifts with the rest of us. One of my favorite aspects of other peoples’ creativity is that it often helps me express how I’m feeling when I can’t find the words on my own. Have you ever read something or heard a song lyric that resonated with you so strongly that you felt instant clarify?
I don’t always have the words to describe how PTSD feels, but recently, fellow SIR ambassador Dave did.
Dave was quoted saying, “PTSD makes it hard for me to close my eyes, sit still, and relax in one spot. Running allows me to experience the same meditative calm that most people achieve through being still.”
When I read that, I had a moment where the world stood still. It was like I had been searching for a way to describe my obsessive need to run and Dave was finally able to put it into words for me.
My most persistent symptom of PTSD is fatigue.
Specifically, brain fatigue. I feel like my brain is always recalculating my environment, trying to determine if I am safe. When something happens to me that I feel I should have seen coming, I get launched into a state of hyper-awareness for a period of time. I frequently feel overstimulated and if I am overstimulated for too long, I tend to dissociate.
My history and diagnosis
I was first assaulted when I was 17, but I didn’t receive my PTSD diagnosis until my late 20’s. Several events would happen over the years to compound my PTSD before I finally went to therapy. Therapy was helpful and I still go as needed, however, nothing compares to running.
Running quiets my mind unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
It is continuous clarity and peace. It helps me reconnect to myself and others, even if I am running alone. Over the years, I’ve gotten better about identifying what triggers my PTSD. I know how to avoid significant ones and I know how to make myself feel safe(r) on a daily basis. Something I struggle with daily is that I don’t have control over every interaction I have. With running, I feel like I have a lot of control. I can control my body, how far I go, and where I go.
Running helps me manage PTSD symptoms
I’ll never be completely without my symptoms of PTSD, but I can manage them everyday. The most effective tool I have at managing my mental health is running. As always, I am grateful for the daily run.