I would love to say that my experience with anxiety has been a one-time event – this is what happened and why I felt that way, what I did to fix it, and now it’s all better. It’s never easy to talk about anxiety, but at least there would be a start and a finish with a lesson in between. For me, it’s been more of an ongoing issue. I’ve had anxiety in different contexts through my adult life – sometimes not at all and at other times more marked. At times, it’s been in relation to a stressful life event – my father’s death six weeks after being diagnosed with cancer, an accident that injured one of my girls, even the birth of each new baby in our family brought challenges. At other times, I have started to feel anxious and have no idea what could be causing it. It’s a sense of not feeling safe – that something bad could happen.

As I’ve read about anxiety and talked to others through the years, it has helped in many ways. First, to realize that I’m not the only one who experiences it. We all live with anxiety to some degree. And, let’s face it, some anxiety is good and necessary in life. If you ran headlong into everything you could hurt yourself or get into trouble. The question is how to have a measured response – some caution or reasoning without avoiding the activity altogether. Some people can do this easily. For others, like myself, the feelings of anxiety can try to take over to where you don’t want to experience them at all. You can then begin to retreat from things that trigger those emotions. That leads to the second thing I’ve learned about anxiety in my life – If I just do the thing that I’m anxious about, the feelings of anxiety lessen over time. For example, when I first started doing triathlons I had a lot of fear with swimming in the open water. I did not swim growing up and learned at age 26. It just wasn’t in my comfort zone to swim in a lake where I couldn’t touch the bottom or grab on to the side. Over the years though, as I have done this more and more, it’s gotten easier. I would not say I have no fear at all, but it’s much more manageable. Third, I’ve learned that as hard as it is to have anxiety in my life, it’s good for me. It keeps me humble and relying on my faith in God, not myself. Having a weakness like that also develops empathy in me for others and their issues – whether they are similar to mine or not.

I would say that the challenge in life is not avoiding our weaknesses, or pretending they don’t exist, but accepting them, and living a full and satisfying life in spite of them. Each experience is valuable – the positive and the negative – for growth and for helping others. One of my favorite Bible verses sums it up this way in 2 Corinthians 12:9 where Paul writes: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”.

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Hi, I’m Christy Casimiro. This is my second year with MHWTC. Last year I was named “Most Determined” member of the club, and I think most people would agree that I’m one of the most enthusiastic people on the planet (hopefully, not in an annoying way). I also think that most people would be surprised to discover that I have battled anxiety and depression for much of my adult life.

Happy, healthy, safe and secure. That’s one of my mantras. Songs from The Sound of the Music; they comfort me too. By all accounts, I have a blessed life. Husband who adores me, three beautiful (young, wild) children and passion for one of the healthiest pursuits there is: triathlon.

When my first child was born, four years ago, I was convinced, CONVINCED, there were baby-nappers out there, plotting to kipnap her from me. ALL the time. It was exhausting. I couldn’t enter my house without first checking every closet/bathroom/under all the beds, etc for intruders waiting to pry my bundle of joy from my arms. I had my husband put extra locks on every door. I insisted on getting an alarm system installed. I put up “beware of dog” signs all around my house – alerting people of our oh-so-NOT-ferocious black lab. I could not sleep. I lay in bed at night thinking about all the windows and doors in our house, and sure that baby-nappers were on their way to get her. It was, to be frank, hell. I was suffering from anxiety and post-partum depression and didn’t even know it.

I used the mantras I mentioned above. I tried to talk to my friends and my husband. But mostly, I suffered in silence because I was afraid of sounding crazy. I had wanted a baby so badly, for so long, that it didn’t occur to me I could have post-partum depression. And I’d been treated for anxiety before, years ago, but my husband and I didn’t recognize the symptoms this time because we were a *tad* sleep deprived.

It wasn’t until our second child was born, less than two years later, that I realized what I was feeling was not, in fact, normal. And I sought help. Talking to my doctor, and anti-depressive medicine, have done wonders for me.

I can’t remember the last time I checked under a bed for a baby-napper! Thank god! I do, however, get awfully anxious about cars. My fears and anxieties are so powerful that I can’t even type them out.

Happy, healthy, safe and secure. Happy, healthy, safe and secure. Doe, ray, me, fa, sew, la, tea, doe!!!!

Currently, my depression is mostly under control, most days… My hormones have definitely taken a beating, having three babies in less than four years. So I TRY to be kind to myself. When I find myself slipping into a funk…I evaluate my thoughts, and talk to a few close friends and my husband. I do everything in my power to feel better. For me, that means eating healthy, NOT junking out on six candy bars after lunch, getting at least 8 hours sleep a night, and working out at least 4-5 times a week. Those are the things I CAN control, and I CAN do for myself to make myself feel as good as possible.

So I try. I try to appreciate each day for what it is, and to muster through the harder moments knowing that they will pass. Some days are harder than others. Some days are easier.

I hope that by sharing part of my story with you, if you too have battled, or are battling anxiety or depression, you don’t feel so alone. I can’t believe I’m sharing this with all of you. Now please excuse me while I go hide in a closet. ;-) Doe, ray, me, fa, sew, la, tea, doe!!!!

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My story starts with spring of 2009. Like many women, I needed to lose weight so I decided to try running. Now, I have never been the athletic type…the most exercise I got was walking or chasing after my two kids. The beginning was rough, many minor injuries that could have discouraged me to continue but something was igniting inside and pushed me to keep at it. I remember around the time of Broad Street in 2009, a friend of mine told me I should do it, I told her she was crazy…I was only running a mile, how in the world could I do 10!! But that discussion put a thought in my head that I have never thought of before…entering into racing events! I thought it was for “real” runners. She told me if I wasn’t going to do Broad Street, I should consider this midnight run for BOMF, it was an 8.4 mile loop around the art museum. I took my first plunge and signed up for the August, 2009 run and that was what began my obsession. After completing the run, I was so sore, exhausted and immediately looking up more races on Active.com.

I had always wanted to complete a triathlon. I remember a coworker talking about her marathon running son who also did triathlons and I was in awe! I remember telling her I wish I could do that! I pushed the tri idea to the side…I didn’t have a bike or a place to swim. I didn’t even know where to begin! So, I kept up with the running, signing up for 5, 10, 15K’s and soon after half marathons. I could not get enough so I took the plunge and signed up for my first full marathon, Philadelphia Marathon, in 2010. That one really tested me physically and emotionally. I kept going, training when I hurt, not staying out late so I can wake up early and run, ran when others questioned my sanity. I swore during training and during the marathon that I would never do a full again…then signed up for the 2011 marathon the very first day registration opened. My second full marathon I completed in 27 minutes less than my first! It was soon after my second full marathon that I really put my mind to completing a triathlon. I scoured the internet looking for information and got so lost….transitions, tri suits, clips…oh my!! I joined the YMCA, one step out of the way but I was still lost. That is when a friend mentioned Mullica Hill Women’s Tri Club!

 

I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined MHWTC. I was scared to death to join a club where I didn’t know anyone! I was swimming at the Y at this time but did not have a bike yet. I posted on the Facebook page that I needed a bike but didn’t have a big budget and Patty from Action Wheels stepped in and said they had refurbished bikes and to come in. I came in, got hooked up with a bike and was so excited!!! Soon after, I attended the kick off meeting not knowing anyone, scared to go into a room full of women I didn’t know but I walked out with so much more confidence and signed up for Parvin that same night!! I went on group rides, met new friends, attended the Matt Long presentation, ran the Friday night 5K, faced my fear of lake water in the organized OWS!! Then it came down to the real test, Parvin, my first Triathlon….I was crushed when I got the email that the swim was being canceled and that it will be a Duathlon. I finished but still did not get the satisfaction of completing a triathlon. I could not call myself a Triathlete.

Luckily, I had another triathlon to look forward to, the one I was most excited about! Queen of the Hill! I am so happy to have this as my first Triathlon. A tri full of women, many doing their first triathlon as well! It was such a great experience! There was tons of encouragement, cheers and support! It was the hottest day of the week but received ice towels and the residents along the course were putting their sprinklers on and hosing us down. We ended with peaches, blueberries and mimosas! And I left as a Triathlete! I am hooked. So hooked I even signed up for another triathlon, Wildwoods Tri!! Another fear to face, my fear of the ocean but with the support of our club, I was able to face my fear once again. The only fears I think I have left are spiders and bats….but not ready to take those on yet!

 

The best part of this whole experience is that I found myself. I became a mother at 18 and still had some growing up to do myself while raising a child. What I had done for so many years was put my own wants aside and did not develop my own identity aside from being a mother. I love my children with my whole being but I did not have any real hobbies, anything for myself that I so passionate about…until I found the wonderful world of running and most recently triathlons! A few years ago if someone would have told me I would be running a marathon on my birthday (AC marathon 10/21/12) a couple months after doing a triathlon I would have laughed, I am such a different person today. I am so thankful to have found this Tri Club. I got the push I needed that night of the kickoff meeting. You don’t always have to be born with the athletic ability, you only need the desire, the will and patience. I love to tell everyone that it is possible. I am proof!