CATRIONA | Becoming friends with my anxiety


I remember a photo of a relay team that I was part of, I think I was 10 or 11. And we're all wearing crop tops. And I remember looking at that photo at that age and just thinking, how much bigger and more disgusting that I looked compared to the others.

As a kid, I think people would describe me as really shy. I always in some way knew that what I was experiencing wasn't just that I was quiet. I would have a lot of problems in social situations and 
situations where I would have to speak in public.

I think around that time, my inner critic was extremely loud and extremely influential. I started noticing that I was very self-conscious about my body. I would always be the kid with the big baggy t-shirts and the baggy shorts. You know, I couldn't show my body because I was too fat.

I took a step back from running for quite a number of years because yeah, it just became more stress 
than it was fun.

I had a lot of trouble with self-harm at that time as well of like, physically self-harming, and I think the
eating disorder as well was a manifestation of that wanting to, you know, punish myself or have some kind of release from these really strong feelings.

I just felt like...yeah, there was so much pain and I couldn't keep living like this. So it was either I talk to somebody or I was going to take my own life. That's the crux of it.


CATRIONA: Are we gonna boil these or fry them?

MUM: Boil, it's easy. More healthy. 

CATRIONA: Mum, what does your name mean?

MUM: My name, oh, my name is Xiaojing. It's born in early morning, early morning peaceful.

CATRIONA: I really withdrew from my relationship to my mum for a long time there. A couple of years after I had started seeing a psychologist and that sort of thing, and I had kept all of that from her, and we had this huge argument and then I just said everything. Yeah, that completely transformed 
our relationship. And really transformed my relationship to my Chinese heritage as well.

Growing up in Australia, I didn't really have a lot of opportunity to connect to my Chinese heritage. But food was always, like we always had Chinese food for dinner.

MUM: During the learning, when learning, a lot of people cannot do very well, But she picked up 
the first time! I learned from my father, my two brothers didn't know how to do it. And in my family, only you!

CATRIONA: Now I'm the only one who can do it (laughs)

So for the last decade, I've been seeing psychologists regularly and I think it's been a really huge part of me becoming really comfortable with myself and becoming really good at talking to people, 
like this interview! Letting people in, letting everyone in (laughs).

I joined a running group again. I just remembered all the great things about it. I could enter the sport as an adult, as a different person, as someone that was free from a lot of the pressures from my youth.


COMMENTARY:Fresh off the World Indoor Final, into the home straight, and she looks powerful. Pulling away from the field, our national record holder putting on a show for the crowd. And she'll come down to take the national title in the women's 800m.

CATRIONA: I think I used to think of these thoughts and feelings as a weakness or as something that
needs to be managed. But I don't really believe that anymore. I actually think that it's more about just being friends with all of these different parts of yourself.

It's not this shameful secret that I have, like it's just part of who I am.

Now, yeah, I really see those things as just a way for people to relate to you and to love you and to... yeah, just a way for me to let people in.