I run to feel complete, to feel alive, to feel happy, and to feel free. I run to visit beautiful places, to overcome my fears, and to remind myself – and others – that our limits may not be where we think they are.

Chrissie Wellington

I remember the first time I ever felt fat. I was in year 5 sitting in assembly and thinking my legs were so much bigger than the girls next to me and that must mean I am fat. I was 10 years old…

Growing up I was always an active kid. You could find me outside riding my bike, playing any sport I could involved including competitive touch football, basketball, netball and running.

Around the time I was 16 I developed my first eating disorder and started counting calories and exercising to punish myself for the things I had eaten that day. I restricted my food intake, existed on dinner alone so my family would see me eating and developed a fear of “bad” foods.

After a while I couldn’t maintain this. I got sick and tired of feeling guilty about what I ate (as well as being exhausted) and decided I did not want to live my life like this. Over the next few years I worked really hard on developing a healthier relationship with food.

However, after I finished school I stopped sports and exercise completely. Something that had been such an important part of my identity made way for drinking and partying. It’s around this time, in my early 20s my anxiety really came to a head.

I was afraid of everything. I was afraid of falling asleep, I was afraid of waking up when it would all begin again. Afraid I was going crazy, afraid of being touched. It was a struggle to leave the house and an even bigger struggle to put myself in social situations.

A few years later, after a rough break up along with some other life changes my eating disorder returned with a vengeance.

I started skipping dinners in order to lose weight and feel in control of SOMETHING in my life. I quickly fell into my old habits of food rules – good/bad foods, restrictions etc. and I began eating less and less. If I did have a “bad” day where I would eat more than I wanted to I would make up for it by surviving on next to nothing for the next few days.

In 2011, after what can only be described as a complete mental breakdown at around 23, with the help of my family and some close friends things started to pick up…

I started running again – this played a massive role in my recovery. Initially, I just started running as a way of coping with my extreme anxiety I was experiencing. I would get home from work and know that I could run away an hour or two of time. That was an hour or two that I was not alone with my thoughts. I would stick my iPod in and just run.

I then started noticing how good it made me feel and how much my moods were improving. Day by day running got easier. As did life.

I am a firm believer in strong body, strong mind.

Food was no longer the enemy – the way I look at food has completely changed. Food is fuel. As well as a source of joy and community.

In 2013, I met Nate, my husband.

I had just bought my first road bike and was training for my first triathlon. He has been my biggest supporter over the years. Since that first date, I have managed to convince him to compete with me in multiple triathlons, including a half ironman, marathons and half marathons.

December 2015 saw the birth of our baby girl Matilda. I had a relatively textbook pregnancy until the final 6 weeks where my anxiety took over once again.

I was petrified of the impending birth, I found it really hard to imagine my baby, and I was too scared to sleep in case I went into labour. Lack of sleep is a major trigger for my anxiety – so I was stuck in this horrible cycle.

To add to this, I had a 4th degree tear birthing Matilda and she had severe colic and feeding problems.

It’s not surprising that I ended up with postnatal depression. However, this went undiagnosed for 2.5 years until after we lost our baby Felix at 21 weeks.

Women don’t know they are depressed or anxious.

They think they’re failing.

@Motherhood Understood

After Felix was born, I was a mess. Understandably. I remember at one point thinking, people keep telling me this is one of the worst things I will ever go through; yet I honestly don’t feel that much worse than I have in a long time.

It was then I realised that I needed help as my baseline was just so low and even the littlest of things would see me at breaking point.

Working with my GP I started on antidepressants and was referred to a wonderful psychologist who helped me work through so much and helped me become a better parent and start enjoying my daughter!

We were lucky enough to fall pregnant the following month after Felix’s birth and welcomed our son Darcy in March 2019.

Given I had a 4th degree tear with Matilda it was recommended that I have a c-section for my birth with Darcy. Knowing this was major surgery and I was essentially pregnant for 60 weeks straight, I have been taking my time recovering and getting my pelvic floor and core strength back as I embark on my journey back to being a runner and pursuing new goals.