I got the idea for this post from my personal trainer Brandan Schieppati, who authored a piece by the same title (also a kick ass Black Flag song).
I originally wrote this post in November 2013, but I have been debating whether to publish it, but I finally plucked up the courage to put it out there after realising that there is nothing to be ashamed of in talking about mental health issues and that maybe my struggles will help others in a similar situation:
I’ll start this blunt: I have been battling depression for better part of 15 years.
I have more good days than bad days, though my concussion in 2010 set me back quite a bit and left me spiraling through a period of pure emotional hell. It was the last time I touched anti-depressants.
I have done a lot of soul searching to pin-point what my demons are. I’m not going to discuss them here in the interest of preserving some privacy around the topic and partially, because I’m not ready to discuss those issues on an open forum, such as this blog. All I am saying that no matter how hard it may seem, everything is beatable and it will get better if you talk about your issues! It may sound completely new-age or that I’ve read some fucking self help book, but as long as you set your mind to it, you’re going to make it.
For me the greatest release and ‘medicine’ was in sports. Whether it is at the gym, on the rink, or on the road running, that is where I found the outlet to release some of the frustrations and those depressive feelings of self loathing and hating the person you see in the mirror.
There are still days when I don’t want to get out of bed and face the world and days that I spend self-loathing and thinking that I’m a worthless piece of shit, but I have learnt that if I get stuck and not face the world head on, I will be stuck in an endless spiral that is going to be difficult to break and will ultimately be the end of me. Yes, those days are a real struggle and I’m not going to lie, they’re difficult to get through, but I’m not in the place any more where I feel like I should just drive my car off the road or jump in-front of a train.
Battling against depression has its challenges. For example, in the realm of sports, I often struggle with self-confidence and that can lead to hindrances in performance, which in turn lead to more self-depreciation, as I know I could have done things differently. Additionally, when it comes to injuries or injury recovery, there is a higher chance of a mental setback, as I know I won’t be able to do the things that keep me going, so to speak.
Where dealing with issues such as these can often seem like it is a daunting task, what has the overall experience taught me? It has taught mental toughness and a certain degree of stubbornness, in that if someone says I can’t do something, I have an urge to prove those people wrong. The thing that has helped me the most is that I have learnt to talk about my issues to people close to me and address any bouts of lingering depression early. Also, even when things seem at their bleakest, I always try and maintain a positive outlook on life and enjoy each and every day, instead of living just for the weekends (as an example), there are important moments in each day that I don’t want to miss. I find that each day is a gift and a chance to improve yourself as a person.
I guess the final bit of stability and direction in life was when my son was born. At the time I was working hard at the gym so I was mentally in a good place, but after my son was born, I felt that life had a purpose and this new life that I was holding in my hands was dependant on me and my unconditional love. Even though parenting is one of the toughest jobs and mentally frustrating at times, it has given me a lot in return. I guess in a way I don’t have time for those feelings any more.
Let me stress that getting myself to this stage in life has not been easy. There have been times when giving up would have been the easiest option and through persevering, I am still here. I understand that there are people that may be facing the same issues and I wish that I could just tell them that it does get better. I don’t wish to sugar coat it, it’s a tough ride, but it gets better.
So I guess that is it, that is my war. Lame as it is to call it a war, as there are no casualties or limbs blown off, but still. It is a struggle at times, but if you set your mind to something you will achieve it. It does require the mentality that you need to go through a fucking rock to obtain those goals. Most importantly, if you are suffering with depression, do not be afraid to talk about it. One of the biggest things that has helped me was to open up about it to people.