Sweat Stories: Brianne Higgs

It's a few moments before you present a speech for hundreds of people. Your forehead and hands are getting sweaty, you shake a bit with nervousness and your stomach is in knots. You are anxious to stand in front of this crowd. "What if I mess up? What if they make fun of me?" You somehow get through it. As soon as it's over, you find instant relief, maybe even a little high.

Now imagine that same feeling, without a speech to present or any particular nerve-wracking situation looming for that matter. And imagine that nervous feeling was constant and never went away. Heart beating faster. Hands getting sweatier. Stomach clenches getting stronger. Brain waves going a million miles per minute. Wait, what is happening? Oh my god I'm dying. I can't breathe. I can't feel my arms or my legs. I can't speak. My lips are numb. Oh my god I'm having a heart attack! It's been too long, I'm going to be paralyzed if I live through this. Paramedics come, I try to crawl to the door to let them in. I can't move. Help me, help me please! I can't speak. I black out for a minute. Suddenly, I can see clearly, my heart slows down, I stop sweating, feeling rushes back to my rigid limbs.

"You just had a panic attack". Excuse me, what? No. I almost died! This was serious, not some silly panic attack.

I had never had one in my life, although I know now I was on the verge of having one for years. Growing up, when I would feel overwhelmed, had a diploma exam to write or an important baseball game to win, my stomach would clench to the point I would make myself sick and my lips and fingers would start tingling. I brushed it off as some circulatory problem and never got it checked out.

There was a point in my life where these panic attacks constantly threatened me to the point I was on suicide watch. I could not stand the constant knots in my stomach, my lips and fingers tingling all the time. I couldn't take it any more, I would rather die than have to deal with these symptoms everyday.

With the help of a psychiatrist, medication and holistic medicine I found some relief but the anxiety lingered in the background. I guess you could say these things took the edge off. But, the panic and depression would push back even harder and hit me with even more force.

Let me tell you something about mental illness. It does not care how much money you make, how many friends you have or how "perfect" your life is. Some people might say "she has nothing to be depressed or anxious about. She has two beautiful, healthy children, a loving husband and a dream job". I had a wonderful childhood and, thankfully, have not endured any traumatic situations in my life. Anxiety, depression and panic randomly chose to sink its sharp teeth into me.

I was so tired of fighting it. At my lowest point, I started drinking more and more to dull the symptoms. I was desperate for some relief. I didn't recognize that woman in the mirror anymore. I hated myself and my life. I wanted to die.

Then, spin came into my life.

I pushed on those pedals so hard. I turned the tension up until my legs screamed. I sprinted until I could taste puke in my mouth. Sounds terrible right? Somehow pushing through the physical pain helped me push through all the emotional pain, panic and fear. I poured my heart into that bike, that room, that instructor.

Each class I took, I felt a little better. It's like my body had all this extra energy running through it and my body didn’t know what to do with it - so it shook, it trembled, it hyperventilated. I took that energy and emptied it on the bike. Drenched with my own sweat (and tears on some days) after class I feel complete and calm. My body relaxed and rejuvenated: not what you would think someone would say after spending an hour getting their butt kicked.

I'm forever thankful Spinunity came into my life at the exact moment I truly needed it. I owe it all to my girl Simone who knew I was struggling and urged me to buy the $60 new rider month unlimited and give it a whirl.

There's something special about the Spinunity method: the healing powers of music, the exhaustion, the physical exertion and the positive, supportive community. For me, this combination works better than any anti-depressant or any glass of wine.

I choose to live my best life now. The panic attacks are few and far between. I'm getting stronger physically and mentally thanks to Spinunity. The strength and confidence I have gained carries over into my life as a mom, wife and as a designer. In the past when life would throw me a curveball, I would totally breakdown. I'm not scared any more, I know I can handle stress of life just like I can handle that physical stress on the bike.

To anyone out there struggling, I am here with open arms - I want to help you. You can feel better and please do not give up. Let's meet for a spin and chat about it.

All photos above provided by WeAreYEG.

#ridersforlife #spinunity #sweatstories