Annie Brooks is the definition of a strong woman.
On top of being a marathon runner, the U.K. fitness blogger is also a triathlete. But Annie’s physical strength and endurance are only part of what makes her a great role model. The other is her resilience.
Annie was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2012, but before that, she spent four years trying to figure out what was wrong with her body. One minute she’d be running and feeling fine. In the next, she’d experience déjà vu before an unexplained feeling of terror washed over her. Then she’d lose control of her body. When it finally stopped, she’d be left confused and exhausted.
She didn’t know it at the time, but she was suffering complex partial seizures. These differ from the more familiar grand mal seizures, which cause people to lose consciousness.
“Sometimes, I can literally be motionless, although fully conscious,” Annie told Metro. “The worst part I find is that you might not realize I am even having one, as on the outside I can just look like I’m staring into space. They feel like they are going on for ages but it’s normally seconds.”
While the diagnosis has taken away some things, like her ability to drive, Annie never let it get in the way of her passion for fitness. Fortunately, she’s been able to manage her symptoms with medication and practicing mindfulness. Stress and anxiety trigger her seizures, but working out helps her cope. Annie has also found a lot of support through her blog and YouTube channel, where she opens up about her disorder.
“I basically have to push through the symptoms of my epilepsy to keep going,” she added. “For me, fitness isn’t just about the physical, it’s about a balance of the mind and body.”
Annie is pushing herself even more this year by taking part in a 12 in 12 challenge, which involves completing 12 fitness events in 12 months. She’s a little more than halfway through. Her accomplishments so far include indoor skydiving, open water swimming, and trail running. Now she’s looking forward to an Ironman triathlon.
“A strong woman doesn’t need to be the fastest or the best at something,” Annie said. “They push on, are determined and just give things a go. I would like to think my current journey will make me a stronger woman.”
You go, Annie! Your positive attitude in the face of adversity is what makes you such an inspiration. Your condition will never define you, but your strength will.
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