This Loud Noise in my Head

So it's taken me 2 weeks to be able to decide about what to write about. I have so many ideas it's incredibly hard for my noisy brain to be able to filter it all. When I realized this I realized I had my next topic. In the theme of being me and being real I have some confessions to make about problems that I have kept quiet about.

Despite being a very loud and outgoing person I often put up fronts to keep people at bay and very unwilling let out personal information. This has been a protective facade brought about from years of struggling through life with health issues, heart break, humility, stress, and to a degree my upbringing. Growing up in South Carolina you often have to wear different hats around different people. And heaven forbid you accidentally get caught wearing the wrong hat (or a 666 Energy shirt). So naturally I got very good at this, especially as I grew older. This facade has worked so flawlessly at times I have been shocked by some people's impression of me. But I guess that's the whole point of it. Anyways, I have often hidden deep pain and struggle from many of you. I actually get some sort of sick twisted pleasure from being able to tell people I am doing great when in reality I am falling apart physically, emotionally, or both. This trait has also lent me a powerful tool in separating out true friends from the fake in this crazy life I live!

Over the last 2 years many of you are aware (or not) that I have suffered 2 relapses with my rare auto immune disease Wegeners Gratulomatosis. Both of these relapses have occurred while I was living back in Rock Hill after spending nearly 3 years in Boone and other places. Having to move back home as a 25 year away from all my friends and the place that made me happy broke me apart emotionally. But I am also willing to do whatever it takes to continue my running career and be as good as I know I can be. Even if this means loses my sanity. Which has eventually happened.

Fast forward to this past July and all this turmoil in life finally added up and I suffered my first panic attack.  While walking up the stairs at work I collapsed and couldn't breathe.  For someone who was trying to make a 3rd come back as a distance runner I shouldn't have been out of breath walking up a flight of stairs.  Over the previous few weeks I had had some symptoms that I thought were another sign of a possible flair up with my Wegener's, but little did I know that many of the same symptoms (chest tightness, numbness in my limps, headaches) are also symptoms of panic attacks.  So anyways I immediately called my Mom and her and Dad drove up and got me and took me to the hospital in Charlotte.  I was speechless the whole drive (which is completely unlike my loud foul mouth self).  My mind had pretty much decided that I was dying.  The Dr had told me back in May that if the rounds of chemo didn't work then he didn't really know what else to do.  So I had convinced myself that I was legitimately heading to a final stay in the hospital and would more than likely be spending months there not hours.  Well after a bunch of test and the ER talking with my Dr they released me.

Sitting in Dr. Brown's office the following week I was still convinced that I wasn't getting better and had made a turn for the worse after some semi promising feelings in June.  When Dr Brown told me that all my blood work was beyond normal and that he thought that I was suffering from anxiety and panic attacks.  Which was a huge relief and a different scare all together.   So he prescribed some Anti-Anxiety meds and sent me on my way.  Those first few months on them proved very trying emotionally.  As I physically got better I was emotionally checked out.  I just didn't give a damn about things that normally bother me.  I also seemed oblivious to many normal social cues.  Some days I would be out running trying to pound my body back into some kind of shape again and I'd find myself walking for absolutely no reason.  I just couldn't find that fire inside me to do anything.  So many normal things just didn't interest me.  This took a toll on some of my relationships.  Luckily I have finally surrounded myself with the right people that understand my struggles and are there through it all no matter how much I have pushed on them.  As a person that has grown up with skinny man's complex and always had this fire burning in the pit of my stomach to be great at whatever it is I do, it was hard for me to adjust to this care free Brandon.

I wish that I could say things have been all fine and dandy since acclimating to the drugs, but the reality is that my body has adjusted to them over time and I am at that cross roads of taking higher doses or figuring out how to control this anxiety that builds up inside me.  Spending much of the winter so far alone in the cold mountains of Boone has fostered some of that anxiety again.  I am my own worst enemy.  It has been incredibly humbling and scary to learn that the things that have made me a semi successful athlete are also the things that could ultimately be my down fall of health.  No longer do simple things roll of my back like they used to.  They like to plant themselves in my mind and fester.  Many would think that running would release a lot of these demons, but in fact its the exact opposite.  If I am having anxiety issues it leads me to having worse runs because I can't breathe and know my body doesn't feel right, which in turns causes more anxiety.  It's a vicious circle.  Which lead to another panic attack on a long run in the snow in early January.

Many have questioned my recent tattoo of "All hope is gone" as being very dark and grim.  When in reality for me it is beautiful.  I've had to learn the hard way that my life isn't going to be easy, ever.  Finding strength in hopelessness means that I am learning on a daily basis on how to accept groundlessness (the fact that life isn't stable and secure).  Things happen that are out of our control, and there isn't always going to be a hand to help you up, you have to learn how pick yourself up and deal with the situations right in front of you.  Sitting around hoping and wishing for things to be better isn't living and appreciating each moment and the journey to your unknown destination!  We all have to learn to relax in the day to day struggles of life.

Till Next Time,

All Hope is Gone