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Coming to Grips

It took me a long time to come to grips with my depression. What really nailed it home for me is when anxiety hit.

I never felt fear, I never doubted myself, and I never gave up. Anxiety made me “bend the knee.” It made me look at myself and finally go “what’s wrong with you.”

My first anxiety attack had me thinking I was dying. I couldn’t breathe, I could barely walk, my head was spinning and I felt like I was alone on an island. For almost three months I was having 3 to 4 anxiety attacks a week. All my failures had finally broken my spirit, made me doubt myself and my confidence was replaced with fear.

I finally had all the reasons to be happy, yet I wasn’t. I had an amazing fiancé (now my wonderful wife). I have a bright and loving daughter. I had just given up my company to join a real team of professionals. But I was doubting myself.

I kept thinking to myself, what if I fail again? What if I’m left alone? What if I’m not good enough? Will this be my breakdown?

My mother struggled with mental health. Growing up, I always said “it’s an excuse to be weak” or “it’s a reason to fall short.” Then, there I was sitting on a toilet hyperventilating into a brown paper bag that was decorated with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Another time, I was driving my daughter home and lost feeling in my legs. I was losing my mental stability and it was starting to affect me physically.

That brings us to the present day. It’s been months since I’ve had an anxiety attack. I’m beginning to feel, not only like myself, but the best version of myself I’ve been. I have motivation again, a will and a spirit.

Failing isn’t the end, it’s part of the process. Accepting that and believing that as long as you want to, you can succeed.

In a way, this is me saying that I was wrong. I could not have made it through this battle without my friends, my daughter, my wife and even my boss. The army, college football, wrestling, family letdowns, none of these were anywhere close to as hard as fighting through anxiety and depression. If you are fighting this battle, lean on those people that care about you. They won’t let you down. Talk about those feelings you hold on to. Find your spirit.

Keeping a positive mind when things are tough, sounds really simple doesn’t it? It’s not. When you begin to think, “I should quit,” your mind begins the process. The second you think “I can’t do this,” your mind begins to run with that idea. You have to tell yourself “FUCK THAT!” You have to look at yourself in the mirror and say “I’m not going anywhere, this is happening.”

I’ve struggled with depression for such a long time. I always buried it and pretended it was ok. I remained jaded. I remained easily “triggered” and was a hot head. It’s almost like the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment. Only my cap was on and I was just always ready to blow up. The weight room was almost a hinderance to my mental health. I would just destroy myself, making myself too tired to be angry. I never addressed my mental health until I thought I was dying. I went to urgent care and had all kinds of tests done. They came back to me and said “You’re totally healthy, you have anxiety.” I began therapy, I let everything out. I have returned to the weight room, not to be my therapy but to better myself. I have no weight on my shoulders (besides squats) and can finally like the man I see in the mirror again.

I believe for a long time we were always told “man up” and I fell victim to that. My dad was never one that could really have a conversation. I never developed the tools to articulate how I felt. That is what led to my breakdowns. I have let go of my insecurities, my doubts and my own restrictions. Finally, I feel free again.

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