Caro Rolando Will Just See How It Goes
To manage her anxiety, the journalist takes a simple approach: she laces up her running shoes and heads out the door to see what comes next
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Caro Rolando told her story to producer Shweta Watwe for an episode of The Daily Rally podcast. It has been edited for length and clarity.
You know those moments where you kind of step outside yourself and you get like a bird’s eye view of yourself, and are like, What am I doing? This is nuts.
I think that was the moment that I realized, Oh my gosh, I am completely consumed by this thought.
My name is Caro Rolando. Caro itself is a nickname, but that’s what everybody calls me. I am currently in Birmingham, Alabama, and I split my time between here and Toronto, Ontario. I am a journalist and podcast producer.
When I was about 22 years old, I decided to study sociology. I was really enjoying learning it. At the same time, it was causing me a great deal of angst because I had gone to University, hoping to find a way to “save the world.” And I quickly realized it was not that easy, and that the world was a very complicated place. It just launched me on this very dark spiral. It was like, What is the point of being alive, if nothing in this world matters.
I experienced something called disassociation, which basically is where you don’t really feel like you’re in your body. I would look in the mirror and I would tell myself, That’s me, that’s me. But it didn’t feel like me. And everything, like voices, felt farther away. Everything felt impermanent, and it was very scary.
Eventually I reached out to a therapist. I was referred to a psychiatrist, and I was diagnosed with OCD. They were like, “This is trademark OCD. You’re having ruminations, and you’re not going crazy.” The moment I heard the diagnosis was a huge relief, especially the moment that the psychiatrist said, “You’re not crazy.” I felt hopeful that soon, I wouldn’t be trapped by my thoughts.
I had gotten into the habit of running a bit earlier in my life, but after this happened, I knew that I needed to get into a practice of being in my body more. So, I began walking and running more frequently.
I grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver is a very, very gray and rainy city in the winter months. The sky is permanently gray. I think it was February, and it was getting dark at like 4:00 or 5:00 PM. It was just miserable. I remember walking down Commercial Drive, which is this main strip in the neighborhood where I grew up. It’s a street that’s very eclectic. But it was also a street that had seen me grow up, since I had grown up in that neighborhood. So as I walked through it, I was nurturing myself just by saying, Hey, remember? Look over there. That’s like where you took theater lessons as a kid. Look over there, that’s where you went swimming. Do you remember this park?
I would look around and just remind myself, Hey, you’re taking a step right now. Hey, this is an area that you know. Even though it was gray and raining and cold, I appreciated seeing the familiar storefront displays, things that I felt had been around my entire life and were kind of there to remind me that it was gonna be okay, that they had always been there and that they would always be there.
What had gotten me to this cycle of anxiety in the first place was thinking that everything needed to be solved. Every problem in the world was a socioeconomic, geopolitical issue that needed our brains, and we needed to think it through. When you’re forced to exercise or when you’re forced to be in your body, it’s harder to get existential and it just brings you back to the present moment.
When you run or walk, your only job is to put one foot in front of the other and to breathe. That feels really powerful. And, when I run to this day, which I do especially when I’m feeling anxious and especially when I feel like my OCD symptoms are gonna come back, I make a point to run and I set little tiny goals for myself. I’ll say, Hey, just run to that tree, run to that leaf, run to that garbage can. It makes it a lot more manageable, and forces me to just focus on what’s immediately in front of me.
The hardest part is getting out the door. And that’s just what I remind myself every time. I just say, That’s all you have to do. I don’t force myself to do anything else. I say just get out the door and see how it goes.
Caro Rolando is a journalist with a passion for telling stories that challenge the status quo. She is one of the producers working on The Daily Rally. You can learn more about her at carorolando.com.
You can follow The Daily Rally on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you like to listen, and nominate someone to be featured on the show here.