I have voices in my mind.
Until I was 20, I used an inhaler to battle my asthma. From cat allergies to walking up a flight of stairs would end with a puff from the inhaler. Now, my asthma itself was not that bad. I could play tennis, basketball, or ride bikes without an issue. I became used to using the inhaler anytime it was challenging to breathe. I knew I didn’t need it as often, but I couldn’t stop myself. One day, when walking up a flight of stairs at the Marsh Street parking garage in San Luis Obispo, I took my last puff. I was disgusted with myself. Why was I so weak? I went home and threw out my inhaler.
In hindsight, this was a dumb move, and anyone that has health issues should not do something as rash
When I threw out the inhaler, I decided it was time to push myself to not need an inhaler. I was going to start running as far as I could. It started with running the length of a tennis court, followed by a bit of walking. Over the next few weeks, I progressed to a quarter-mile, half-mile, and finally, a mile without taking a break. Then, multiple miles. I learned to manage my breath. Even though I felt uncomfortable, I was no longer feeling weak. I could calmly handle the attack.
I realized over time that I didn’t have to push myself to go running. It was something I craved and needed to do nearly every day. I stopped having to give myself self-talk on moving my feet or telling myself that I could do it. That space I created in my mind let something else in. Voices. Some faint, some loud, mostly resembling my own voice. They’d repeat over and over again, like an echo. At first they would be unsettling. I’d have to stop running, recenter myself, then back to my planned run. I technically could say that I finished my run, but the experience overall was choppy.
These voices were reflections of the conversations I’d had, what I read, watched, and listened to. My mind was trying to process these. At times to make connections of ideas. A problem I was struggling with. Sometimes fear of something I did wrong or an argument I had. This time I spent running was giving space to my mind to process.
My struggle was when these voices appeared, I would try to respond. I would try to force a resolution. I eventually relaxed and let the thoughts happen. They floated there. Some days I’d have the same thoughts over and over again. Over time, they flowed in and out, my running was smooth again. Today, I’ve learned to allow myself to think more deeply about the voices I’m here. Picking the strongest to think through.
While I credit running with my physical health, giving myself the space to think is why I really run.