In this blog, I thought I would discuss my ongoing battle with an exercise addiction and the impact it has on my life and my relationship with others.
I will always remember my Mother saying to me, ‘ go on your bike’ or ‘take the dog for a walk’ when there was a difficult situation or an upsetting event. It was a way to get me out the house but also a defence mechanism to keep my mind off what had just happened as well as encouraging physical activity. During my childhood, as a family, we did suffer several significant deaths which impacted the dynamics of our family unit. I soon realised that by doing exercise and keeping active gave me a massive ‘buzz’ which allowed me to forget about my worries or concerns and I felt stronger to cope with life events that were rapidly developing.
I don’t remember looking at fitness casually one day to being compulsive the next. I was compulsive from the start. Throughout the past 10 years, I have had to increase the amount of exercise in order to feel the desired effect, either the ‘buzz factor’ or sense of achievement. In the absence of exercise, I experience negative feelings such as anxiety, irritability and restlessness. When it is a time I would normally exercise and I am not able to due to a social or occupational activity I can feel the tension start to build inside me and I get feelings of anger and guilt. I can honestly say it is a constant battle and it sounds stupid because I have worked with people who are fighting for their lives due to alcohol or drug addiction and I am trying to run an extra 3 miles just to give myself a positive sense of achievement.
I guess the purpose of this blog is to make you aware that exercise addiction is a real issue that can break the body down, affect your emotional state, hormones, and even relationships. I knew I needed help and I did not want to continue living a life that revolved around exercise. There are support resources and groups available for you to access in your area but the main way to deal with the addiction is ‘control.’ You need to be able to control your feelings, desires and your inner drive to break the cycle, the pattern that was originally a healthy way of life but has now escalated to an unhealthy obsession. Exercise is healthy, great for our bodies but you need to recognise the issue and learn to become normal and balance it. It’s hard. A constant battle. Once an addict, always an addict. You just have to learn to control that addiction that once was seen as dedication.
By Kate Ball