Oiselle teammate and marathoner Andie Cozzarelli shares her reality of 2020, coping with isolation, anxiety, and depression. None of us are alone.
Quarantine started out feeling like liberation. Liberation from trying to be present at everything. Liberation from trying not to fail. From trying to be perfect and not anxious. When the initial feelings of liberation faded, I found myself at peace training alone. Training alone is a skill that is good for any athlete to have because in races you won’t always be surrounded by people; but when you are training alone, you forget how important human connection is for you. When running is a large part of your social life and any other avenue of genuine personal connection is closed off, you begin to feel isolated.
by Jason Honeycutt (@j.cuttphotography)
Reflecting on those early days, I realize a literal lockdown shouldn’t have felt “relaxing.” I am an extrovert. I enjoy and need the energy of others. For me personally, things started to hit rock bottom in June. I was very slowly and carefully coming back from injury. I have had my fair share of shortcomings, but fear of failure at a professional level tips the scale towards anxiety and depression. To add to that stress, I don’t cope well with negative emotions in relationships; I care deeply what other people think. This summer of over-thinking and weekly therapy sessions, while overwhelming, taught me a lot about myself. Learning exactly what makes me tick and what stirs up my emotions has helped me to not only make better decisions, but stand up for myself more readily.
For so long, I spent time trying to craft the perfectly worded message as not to offend anyone. I couldn’t stand the idea of someone being upset with me. I found myself constantly agonizing over things to the extent that social interaction was exhausting and my mind was occupied with “fixing.” To add to it, I was having few social interactions due to being in a pandemic so the few I did have were negative. I reached a point where I began doubting who I was as a person. Wondering if anyone, including myself, really knew who I was. I just allowed the rejection to sink in. And it sank. Deeper and deeper.
It’s okay to be vulnerable. It is always okay to reach for help.
So here I am. Trying to rebuild myself. Here I am, still riding that roller coaster of emotion that comes from going through a tough period. I know I am still not okay. It helps me to talk. Helps me to let the words and the feelings flow. I know what I have to do going forward. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It is always okay to reach for help. Be open to your faults and your strengths. Make space for what matters, and allow yourself to let go of what doesn’t. In our current time, full of anger and distrust, show compassion and strength for those who need it. Virtual hugs all around no matter who you are, what you look like, or what you believe. Hopefully, if nothing else, my sharing will help you cope with your current feelings and find peace that you are not alone. Sending you all strength and patience.