Anxiety and CrossFit
Written By: Lisa Bilbao
I was diagnosed as having anxiety when I turned 40. For some reason, forty was my magic number. I did have a few episodes when I was in college, but there was an explanation to my anxiety back then; I was a married mom of two young girls and trying to juggle my responsibilities of being a wife, a mom, and a full-time college student. The solution, at least from my doctor’s perspective, was for me to take time for myself and try to reduce my anxiety by taking a pill.
Even back then, I knew I didn’t want to medicate myself for something that I felt there was a solution for. I mean, I wasn’t born with anxiety. Something had to happen for me to get to that point and I needed to find out what it was. Needless to say, I graduated and crossed that off of my “list” and the anxiety was gone.
Fast forward to 40 years old and the anxiety and panic was back. This time it hit me hard, so hard that I really thought that I was going to die. I felt that I was going to have a heart attack at any moment. I cried for “no reason” and I didn’t want my children to leave my side. I would lay in the fetal position just wishing this feeling would go away. My heart and mind were at war with each other. My brain and the logical part of me were telling me that I have nothing to worry about, so why? Why was I so worried? There had to be a trigger, right? I was a healthy forty year old woman who had no previous health issues and no family history of anxiety. Looking back, I realize that I was a stay at home mom for 18 years with no outlet. I put everyone in my house and life ahead of me. I didn’t have a hobby and I limited time with my friends because my family was my life. I didn’t want to focus on myself because I always viewed it as being selfish.
One day my daughter, Julia, told me that a CrossFit place had opened up near our house. I told her, “CrossFit is too expensive and there are plenty of gyms around us. If you really want to start working out I will look into those places.” She was persistent and adamant about CrossFit, so I took her to try it out. There we met Coach Francisco and Coach Dylan, the head trainers and owners of Humble CrossFit. While Julia worked out, Coach Fran started talking to me about the health benefits of CrossFit and explained in very good detail, The Wellness Curve. I remember telling him as I was watching Julia from the sidelines, “Nah, me and weights don’t get along.” Coach Fran didn’t know about the secret I was carrying. He didn’t know that I was not confident enough in myself to pick up a barbell (I didn’t even know it was called a barbell). He didn’t know that I carried my invisible friend anxiety around either. Finally, on Julia’s third day at CrossFit I told myself, “You can definitely do this.” I saw other women who looked to be around my age in there doing the same things that my 16 year old was doing. Challenge accepted! Fine, Fran, you convinced me! Or, was it that I was searching for something that my soul needed to keep in balance?
One week into working out at Humble CrossFit and I fell in love with it. I was sore all the time, but I loved it. I did not even finish my first workout, but I couldn’t stop talking to people about it. That first workout by the way, just so happened to be “Annie” – 50-40-30-20-10 reps of double unders and sit ups. That chick kicked my butt!
Here’s the thing that CrossFit does to you as soon as you walk in the door. It scares you because it pushes you not only physically, but mentally as well. We as humans are designed to work. We are designed to keep moving. We are intelligent creatures who require challenges in order to succeed. Booker T. Washington said, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”
I have not overcome anxiety, but I have pushed it further and further back from where it was before. I understand what it feels like and I know what triggers it, for the most part. However, once I walk into the “box,” it’s like my mind calms down. Once that happens, then the rest of me has no other choice but to put her big girl pants on and kick the days WOD where it hurts.
CrossFit is a community of people who constantly encourage each other. We all want to see each other succeed and do well. Quitting is not an option. There is a goal and your mind is set on completing that goal to feel that sense of accomplishment again. That need to succeed, that need to overcome, it’s there in all of us. My story is a different story from yours; we all have something, a story, a background, a history. And, that’s OK. CrossFit is my outlet, my medication to my ailment, my “happy hour.” If you’re teetering on the edge and need a new channel to heal or cope, I challenge you to find a community like mine. What do you have to lose?