My Journey: How Fitness Helped Me Feel Well Mentally


If you are here from TIA then you will know my mental health story fairly well, it is, in a way the heart and soul of that blog and where it all began. I have always been open about my mental health struggles on TIA and now, I guess- it is time to be open about them on this blog as well.

The basics. 

First up I guess you want to know who I am. My name is Elyssa Giedraitis (@elyssajane_ on Instagram FYI) and I have been running The Introvert Archive (@theintrovertarchive on Instagram) for around five years now. What began as simply a method for me to talk about my mental health struggles and release some tension has turned into this whole other concept. It is now this place where I share opinion pieces, research pieces, product reviews, and hauls, there are personal essays and wellness information. TIA has truly developed into this website for women that I am so proud of.

I live in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia and by day I do all things administration and marketing for the family business and study marketing on the side. Full-time work, studying and running two blogs, well it is a lot but I enjoy being busy- it means I have less time to think about my mental health. 

What is my actual diagnosis?

My official diagnosis so you know what we are on about here: severe depression and an anxiety disorder. I was first diagnosed at the age of 14 and then again a few times since then. My journey has been very up and down over the years, sometimes I'll go months feeling on top of the world- depression? What depression? And then I'll get struck down and struggle to get myself back up for a few months. I'll have good days and bad days all the time.

Where does physical activity come into this?

I first realized that moving my body was benefiting my mental health in the last year of high school, so year 12. I had coasted through your ten and eleven, spending so much of that time in my bed with both a back injury and severe depression, so when it came to crunch time in year 12 I was underprepared, to say the least. I knew the scores I wanted and I knew that ultimately I wanted to do something with my life. So, I forced myself to put the mental health side of this to the side and get cracking on studying. 

Of course, trying to push it to the side made it more prevalent than ever. I started exercising as a break between finishing school at 3pm and studying at 5pm. I started with guides such as the BBG guide by Kayla Itsines and I found that I just really loved moving my body and the way that I felt after. I felt more ready to tackles my studying rather than stressing about it and winding myself up. I felt less anxiety weighing on my chest, I felt lighter. 

I exercised on and off during year 12 and the year after finishing school, and looking back I always did better, felt better, looked healthier when I was exercising my body. It was in about three years ago now that I really started working out every day, taking my health more seriously. I started doing more lifting and less cardio (that worked better for me) and I started reaping the benefits of regular physical exercise. Of course, I would still have my up and down periods but if I was sticking to my routine the bad days weren't as bad. 

So, what is your training routine looking like now?

Routine is what keeps me sane if I am out of the routine I feel like you can physically see the anxiety rising up in me and ready to crush me. Every morning I get up and go straight for my morning walk, I usually walk for about an hour just listening to a podcast or mentally going over whatever is happening in my head. I do my bets content planning on this walk so I've usually got plenty to think about. This also allows me to nut out anything that is causing me anxiety or stress. 

After that morning walk, I usually come home and sometime soon will do my actual training for the day. Whether it be a HIIT session, some cardio, my favourite days are the heavier lifting days. I ALWAYS feel better after I hit "finish" on my workout. Whether I took a really long time to get through it because I couldn't switch my mind off or I just took it easy because I had an anxiety attack the night before and there is an ache in my chest. Once I am done, I feel good, I feel like I have accomplished something for the day and now I can get on with the rest of it. 

And your mental health?

At the time of writing this post, I had my last anxiety attack exactly a week ago. It was a combination of stress, being exhausted and being in a "down" slump that left me there. I have been in a bit of a depressive episode for about a month- I don't want to leave the house, I am snappy and seem to be unhappy all the time. I'm still doing everything as normal- I'm still training, still getting my work done, but I just don't feel like my usual self. I've cried a lot over the past few weeks, let me tell you that. The thing is, this is just one of the things I have to ride out, there isn't really a way out of it, I just need to keep on keeping on, keep doing the things I know will help me and will benefit my mental health and I know that there is a light at the end of the very dark tunnel, I just need to find it.  

I think that just about wraps it up- if you have any questions that you don't think I have answered let me know. If you're thinking them than someone else probably is as well and as I said, this is a very open space.

I can't wait to really start sharing content with you all here on TIA Active, if you want to follow TIA as well our website is: www.theintrovertarchive.com and you can sign up for our mailing list by clicking here. 

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