Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Rest of the Story

When I was in Middle School and the start of High School my Mom was part of a car pool. When it was her time to drive everyone would always tell me to try and get her to put it on one of the "cooler" (Top 40) radio stations. She liked to listen to a station that had a stronger than usual "talk" element and played mostly oldies and a few, very main stream, top 40 hits. I would play along with my friends and tell her I wanted the station changed...sometimes she did, sometimes she didn't.

Truth be told I liked the station that she listened to. One of the main reasons I liked the station was that Paul Harvey was featured daily. I loved his voice and the inside angle that he gave to events happening around the world. His segment was called, "The Rest of the Story." As I was thinking of this post I thought of Paul Harvey, because this post really is the rest of the story:

* I had a full blown panic attack in the first mile of my race on Saturday. My mind raced as the fear built. All I could think of was, what if I can not do this? My legs were heavy, my mouth was really dry and I could not seem to catch my breath. I had thoughts of stopping right then and saying that my knee hurt, that I did not feel good, straight out telling my family I was having a panic attack.

I was surrounded by people and felt totally closed in, like there was no where to go. I began singing to my ipod and trying to visualize that I was running on the treadmill at the gym. As one foot went in front of the other I calmed some and finally got into a rhythm. The last thought of bailing came when the 10K and the 5K split...I could just follow the 5K and say I got confused somehow.

When the split happened and I saw how few people headed up the hill on the 10K route I felt like I had to do this...I am one of few who have chosen this route and I have to do it. Shortly there after I saw Momma and Scott for the first time and that gave me a boost I needed badly.

*Right before the 4th mile marker we turned into a headwind, I had been trotting along nicely for a while at this point. When we hit the headwind I got really cold. Bone cold. I had decided to wear a sleeveless top because I thought I would be really hot, I never thought, for a second, that I would be so cold! It scared me and the OCD kicked in again. I looked down at my heart rate and it was at 99% (whatever that means). I was not tired but I walked because I was scared. I could not let go of the thought that something was seriously wrong with me.

I never warmed up the rest of the race and it was only after a warm bath that I felt my temp was normal back at home (we did eat at a cold restaurant after the race which probably did not help much). This is where the obsession kills me. The thought that something was wrong never passed through my head the rest of the race (I worried even after I got home) it played like a broken record in my head. Once again it was seeing my Mom and S and Alan and Kate on the bridge that boosted me to the finish.

* I have been off my meds for a while now. My psychiatrist lowered my dose but I continued the process and slowly stopped taking them all together. I can tell you, without a doubt that if I had been on meds neither of the two experiences I described above would have happened. The meds would have evened me out and I would not of had the panic sensations and I would not have obsessed over the cold feelings.

This leaves me in an interesting position. By God I made it through that race with panic, with obsessive thoughts and without meds; but, did I have to? Sometime in the near future I hope to be pregnant and at that time there will be no question, I will not be on meds (this is a decision I made myself after a lot of research).

But until then...who am I? Am I the girl that was Saturday who suffers through and is proud of herself not only for her physical accomplishment, but also for her mental accomplishment. Or am I the girl who does not worry who I am? The fact of the matter is that I am still not sure.

The girl who made it through the race on Saturday is not always a fun girl to be. She over thinks everything and stops herself, in her own tracks, at every turn. The girl who does not worry will always wonder if she is missing something by not worrying.

I am still thinking and praying about this one a lot. I am not sure what I will do...

Thanks again for all the support out there in the blog world. You all were definitely on my mind during the race. When it comes down to it, no matter who ever else I am, I am a lucky girl to be so supported!

Now you have the rest of the story,
Molly Cooper, Good Day


SkiRough said...

A couple thoughts:

1. Thank goodness this post didn't lead to where I thought you were going with it. I was FOR CERTAIN sure you were going to start talking about Delihla! "Evenings with Delihla" etc on the easy listening stations.

2. I had a panic attack at my first tri too! You did a great job focusing on the ipod and visualizing the treadmill. I would have never thought of that.

3. As far as deciding who to be... I think that maybe perhaps as you compete and finish more races, you will become more like the second girl? Because it will be more second nature to get out there, put the miles under your belt, and get it done. Then you can worry more about the muffin you are going to have after the race? I don't know, just a thought. Just remember this is so new to you, and that it's normal to be feeling all that doubt.

Best of luck with it all :)

momo said...

molly, the things you experienced during your race, i've experienced as well. as a matter of fact, i was telling big j how last night at the police concert, the feeling of claustrophobia in that arena was overwhelming to me.

i too try to find things to concentrate on, like you did with your ipod. sometimes i sing to myself, sometimes i try to reason with myself (that doesn't always work!), and sometimes? well, sometimes i just freak and that's how it goes.

you are learning to cope without the meds and i think you're aware of how you feel and what is going on in your body, and obviously you've learned some skills to help you deal with those feelings. its a process and you do the best you can. i'm not a proponent either way of meds/no meds. i think its a personal decision that you have to make on your own, weighing the pros and cons.

hang in there, though, perhaps the activity - the running and all - will make a difference.

big hugs to you.

Andy said...

Molly. Did you ever imagine you would put yourself out there the way you did for that race? Did you ever imagine you would find the courage to defy your negative thinking and finish the race? Did you ever imagine you would be living medication free, even with the odd (or regular panic attacks)? In the short space of time you've been blogging, you have come so far. You should be proud of yourself. I know the OCD will inhibit your ability to see what giant leaps you've made, but from an outsiders point of view, you are an inspiration. Congratulations. :-)

Matt said...

First and foremost, I haven't had a chance to congratulate you on your finish. The race report was great. Loved hearing your thoughts. You really stuck it out.
As for Mr. Harvey, I'll always have fond memories of his broadcasts. He always seemed to come on the radio right after I dropped Lauren off when we were dating. Weird. I listened to him nearly every night.

JohnnyTri said...

Your getting all the great experiences we as runners, triathlets etc.. have to go through..in a sense your earning Your Wings!

Your doing great and understanding what causes increased stress and anexity and how to focus. Keep it up.

So whens your next race!


Andra Sue said...

Just like momo and skirough (and little miss runnerpants and a lot of others, I suspect), I had a freak-out panic attack at my first triathlon. Full on crying and and hyperventilating as I watched the swim waves before mine take off. People were actually asking me if I was okay. I almost backed out. I'm so glad I didn't.

I'm not saying that to make light of what you went through, but just to emphasize that it's somewhat normal. We all end up facing our fears, one way or another. The lesson is how we end up dealing with them. You did a fine job of working through your situation; that in and of itself is a big accomplishment! Right on.

Aimée said...

Wow what an inspiration! I love your post. I too am considering getting pregnant and have wondered about the effects of taking my meds during the pregnancy. I stopped taking them before because I didn't want to be using a crutch but realized that wasn't a good idea for me. You deserve a pat on the back and a high five for your accomplishment. Your mom should be proud! :) Hang in there!


Allez said...

The comfort level WILL come. I sometimes get physically sick to my stomach before races from the nerves, especially for first times. I never feel like I'm ready enough. But that's always the mind trying to play tricks. Just stick with it and it'll only get better from here!

Jennifer Djodjevic said...

Hi Molly,

That's is so great that you finished the race despite all the symptoms you were feeling. What an accomplishment!
I think that is one of the toughest things and most couragous that a person with anxiety can do -push forward no matter what.

I am not a runner but I have had that experience at the healthclub or elsewhere. I can't say that I always pushed through but when I did I felt so much more confident.

As for knowing who you are - I don't know if anyone can really know. We learn about ourselves through processes and experiences. We learn how strong we really are too. Life is one big long experience and no one will ever know how it ends. The exciting part is that we keep getting chances to figure it out.

Again - great job on the race!


Bill said...


I've been meaning to comment on this one, but work has been crazy this week. That and trying to pack in 16 hours of training...

Truth be told, we all panic to some degree each and every race. At some point. Granted, you may have done it a bit more than some of us, but that's perfectly fine. You just have to trust in your training and trust in yourself. It's obvious you have a wonderful support network there.

So don't look back!