I’ve always had a lot of movement in my life. Even before my Paleo days, I went to the gym about five days a week because I knew exercise was good for you. Growing up, I had good role models. My mom has gone swimming several days a week for as long as I can remember. I learned that taking time for yourself and moving was critical.
Hiking, yoga, martial arts, stretching, going for a walk–these were things that were part of my life. I didn’t play any team sports, but I was always active. I bounced out of bed in the morning and ripped open the curtains. I wanted to be outside. I wanted the sunshine inside. I didn’t feel good if I didn’t move at least every other day.
As my anxiety and panic increased, my desire to move diminished. I didn’t open the curtains in the morning. I didn’t care if it was sunny outside–I was in Arizona. It was always sunny outside. It was also 120 degrees and I was trapped indoors for five months at a time. All I had to do was touch the south facing wall to know it was too hot to go out with the kids. Our shutters, blinds, curtains, and windows were perpetually closed. We couldn’t open them. We hunkered down and waited the summer out. We watched a lot of TV. We didn’t move a lot. It was too damn hot.
During that time, we bought a treadmill which seemed like a great idea at the time. Unfortunately, that treadmill ended up being involved in one of the most traumatic events of my life. This event, which happened on July 21st, 2013, (which just so happened to be my birthday) ended up being
Wow. I’m not ready to write about this yet. I’m still reliving it. Let’s just say it was bad. There were broken bones. Screaming children. Blood. Pain. Frozen panic, the inability to react. A failed attempt to protect my children.
After the treadmill incident, I stopped moving. It took me several months to heal physically, so there was that excuse. After the bones had healed and my legs had scarred up, I found I didn’t want to move anymore. I didn’t even want to stretch, and I lost interest in fitness. I got irritated when friends posted stuff about their workouts on Facebook. I didn’t even want to go outside for a walk.
I did what any rational person would do: I turned the treadmill into a TreadDesk. It was the only way I could go into my office, and the only way I could get on the damn thing. I forced myself to walk on it for hours at a time, clicking away on the keyboard and distracting myself the whole time. All of a sudden, I found that I couldn’t face being on the computer anymore. I became overwhelmed by technology, something that was most strange to me. I stopped going online, and eventually I stopped working altogether. Any excuse to avoid that treadmill. Any excuse to sit down.
The less I moved, the worse I felt. I knew I had to do something, but I wasn’t consciously aware that I was suffering from post-traumatic stress so I couldn’t make any effective changes. A new gym membership went unused. Walks with friends were rescheduled at the last minute, then cancelled altogether. Workouts were forced and angry and, since they were only happening once every few months, left me unable to walk the next day.
Which, at the time, was just fine with me.
Just like being conscious of my reaction to noise and my disconnection from nature, being aware of why I haven’t been moving has been incredibly liberating. It means that I can make changes that will stick. I’m starting with gentle movements that also combine an element of meditation and nature: outdoor yoga, walking in the woods, stretching in the sunshine. To make them a permanent part of my life again, I’m going schedule them in when I get back from my trip. Taking time for myself and giving my mind, body, and soul what it needs to thrive will once again be a priority.