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Jog On

How running saved my life

By Bella Mackie
12-minute read
Audio available
Jog On by Bella Mackie

Jog on (2019) examines the devastating effects of anxiety disorders and reveals how exercise can help to treat them. These blinks also explore author Bella Mackie’s own mental health struggles and chart her journey to recovery. 

  • Anyone struggling with anxiety or depression
  • Psychology buffs looking for fresh insights
  • Fans of inspirational true stories

Bella Mackie is an author and journalist. Before writing her debut book Jog On, she wrote for the Guardian newspaper, Vogue, and Vice magazine. 

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Jog On

How running saved my life

By Bella Mackie
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Jog On by Bella Mackie
Synopsis

Jog on (2019) examines the devastating effects of anxiety disorders and reveals how exercise can help to treat them. These blinks also explore author Bella Mackie’s own mental health struggles and chart her journey to recovery. 

Key idea 1 of 7

Bella Mackie struggled with mental health problems for most of her life. 

Bella Mackie had only been married for eight months when her husband walked out on her. After he left, Bella lay on the floor, utterly heartbroken. She knew she would have to get up eventually and deal with this trauma – just like anyone after a failed relationship. But the problem was, Bella wasn’t like everyone else.

Even as a young child, Bella was incredibly anxious. Everything frightened her – from surreal pieces of art to certain pieces of music to the noises that cars made. Her stomach and her chest often ached with worry. When she went to school parties, she would get a powerful sense of dread; something would just feel wrong.  

When she went to high school, Bella developed strange behaviors. Whenever she had a scary thought, she would swallow, blink, or spit on the ground to try and get rid of it. She hurt herself, too. Not only did she pick at her skin until she drew blood, she also pulled her hair out – a condition known as trichotillomania. Even today as an adult, she has scars on her legs from pulling out her hair. 

She did all of this to try and cope with her intense anxiety. But, unsurprisingly, these coping strategies didn’t work. Instead, things got worse. She started experiencing disassociation – a terrifying symptom of anxiety that makes sufferers feel detached from their surroundings. 

When Bella experienced disassociation, the world around her looked horribly distorted. Colors seemed garish, and it felt like there was a layer of bubble wrap between her and reality. Sometimes, when the disassociation was really bad, she couldn’t recognize her own face in the mirror. The condition made everything seem staged and fake – as if her friends and family were actors in a play. 

By the time Bella was a teenager, she was having panic attacks, too. 

In an attempt to feel safe, she started avoiding places that made her panic. But as the years went by, this meant she couldn’t visit most of the city where she lived, or go to her local stores, or even visit her nearest park. By the time she got married, Bella was avoiding everything – from planes to freeways to elevators to the subway. 

In the next blink, we’ll take a closer look at the illnesses that were driving Bella’s isolation. 

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