I’m sitting here, late Monday night, attempting to write this blog for you and I just don’t feel right writing about the workouts I did and the achievements I unlocked this past week because a little piece of me broke today learning about Robin Williams’ death and alleged suicide. If you don’t mind (and even if you do) I just feel the need to decompress and talk about it here. I hope you will stay with me.
You might know that I am a stand up comedian, and that some people believe most comedians are sad and/or depressed. That this ‘tortured soul’ aspect somehow helps them be funny. And, although the reasons for this alleged moroseness vary, many think that comedians’ performances on stage serve as a coping mechanism, enabling them to escape from their daily troubles and mental health struggles. I think depression can hit you despite who you are and what you do, but its seems prevalent in people who bring humor and laughter to others…maybe because making people laugh somehow gives us a chance to see happiness, and experience it even for a fleeting moment.
I don’t know.
I also don’t know why I’m choosing to talk about this here and now but it feels right and I’m not the type of person who gets overly personal on the regular, so I hope you won’t judge me or ridicule me for where this is going.
Since I am me and not you, I’m not sure what your perception of me is, what kind of life you might think I live, or where you think I came from. What I do know is that I, like many of you, I fight depression every day. Some days I win and some days the depression wins and that’s just how this little dance goes. Depression is paralyzing – emotionally, mentally, and physically. It’s like being stranded in a giant body of water, when you can’t swim. Your feet don’t touch the bottom, your lungs start filling up with water, you flail around, panicking, and you try to make sense of your surroundings and to get a grip, but you just can’t. So you give up hope. Completely isolated, helplessly drowning. You want to embrace the joys of life, but you absolutely cannot because either you feel too much or you do not feel anything at all. And yet, you somehow manage to experience the dreadful places the depression has taken you. You feel that entirely. Ideally, you want to share in joy and be there for your friends and make things happen and love someone fully and TO BE HAPPY but you stop yourself from being capable of those things when your brain is on a spin cycle of thoughts like “why bother, you’re not worth it” and “no one cares” and “just end it already” and suddenly it’s 3:00am and your sitting in your car in your garage, sobbing, wondering if and how you will make it to the next day.
Please, I hope we all continue to find the strength to make it to the next day.
There have been a few dark times in my life where I have stood on the edge of ending it all. I knew what I was going to do. Somehow in my messed up brain it seemed like it was the only solution at that time. For whatever reason, I have always stopped myself. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, but today sitting here writing these in words in a public forum for the very first time, I am thankful I did. I’m terrified to be sharing something so vulnerable with you, yet I just feel so compelled to do so. These words are real and raw. Depression does not discriminate. It doesn’t care who you are, what you do, or where you came from. It just is. Over the last 16 years, I have received professional help from many and have been on and off medications that have assisted me digging out of the deepest of holes. I’ve hidden this well from most people because it’s what I’ve been taught to do, but I’m done doing that now. This is my life. Professionals have helped me understand a lot about myself and ways to identify when I start to retreat back to those dark places. I’ve learned a lot of us need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves. There is a world of beautiful people who care and want to help, I just learned I needed to see them. I do most of the time. I will not stop trying.
I still struggle, every day. I might always, who knows. Like I said, there are good days and there are bad days.
But, I do know this: I have never been mentally healthier than in these 11 weeks with Solcana CrossFit. People have been talking to me about this blog and my journey here, and they are always asking me how I feel. I think they are looking for me to tell them what I squatted or how many push-ups I’ve done. But I don’t.
I just say, “Mentally, I’ve never felt better.”
In fact, just last week when I stopped in to pick up the “WOD In A Box” for my weekend up north, Hannah and I talked about this for a few minutes. I thanked her because MENTALLY, I HAVE NEVER FELT BETTER. Yeah, I’m not a doctor, but I am me. I have lived in this body and with this brain for 36 years and I CAN TELL. Things feel a little less ominous. It’s been a while since I’ve felt the crushing blow of paralysis in day to day life. I keep hearing Maria Bamford’s mantra “Just do the work…” in my head in an effort to replace the pulverizing hopelessness, self-doubt, and loneliness (if you haven’t read last month’s NY Times The Weird, Scary and Ingenious Brain of Maria Bamford yet DO IT RIGHT NOW). As someone who deals with clinical depression, I am grateful for this break. I guess what I’m here to say is that exercise can help. I hope it can help you like it’s helping me make incredible strides in the gym (I finished a metcon last week FIRST and PR’d in the clean and jerk AND squat), and in my head. If you feel like I feel/have (and even if you haven’t) I hope you will seriously consider joining me for a class at Solcana. It helps. Or a walk. Or SOMETHING that just gets the brain and body pumping some blood. It helps. Just let me know you are interested and I will make it happen. I will come to you. I will pick you up. Whatever it takes. It helps.
I know we are all on different paths of life and treatment, and I hope those of you who also deal with depression find a successful route that works for you, whatever that may be. And, when you need a friend (or a stranger) who understands and can help you move to a more hopeful and helpful direction, I hope you will think to connect with me.
Here’s my number: 612.250.five five four eight. Use it. I am a person who cares about you and your well-being, judgement free. I am here for you.
We are all in this together. Let’s take care of each other.