I have tried most of my life to be positive, happy and optimistic. I was taught the importance of being kind, caring and respectful by my parents, siblings, leaders and teachers. I learned the value of hard work and that failure does not mean the end. I have felt victory, triumph, as well as loss and defeat. I am blessed to have been taught that emotions are real and it’s okay to be emotional.
I have tried to be a good friend, loving husband, father, son, uncle and human. I have missed the mark on many occasions. I have offended people by word and/or action for which I am sorry. I have let people down. I have tried to always comfort those who need it. I strive to live what I believe but still have a ways to go.
With all that said, I have come to a very real and unapologetic realization, mental health matters.
Now, by no means is the a new topic but because it has really played quite a role in my personal life over the past while, I have felt the need to share my reality.
I have found that depression is so powerful and influential in ones life. What was once a life of that I assumed was simply a rollercoaster of emotions was identified as anxiety. Sure, I felt labeled at first but then got comfortable with my reality. Upon becoming with my new normal, something more was about to hit me head on. I did not realize nor was I really prepared for depression to be a part of my life.
I remember taking one of those assessments to see if you are depressed. The doctor looked at my report and said, “interesting, based on these results, you are one happy person.” So you can imagine my feelings as I came to an understanding of my depression. Every emotion from hurt, pain, loneliness, anger, frustration and sadness. Why? Probably because my initial human instincts was that I was damaged goods and people would look at me in way that was not, well good.
In truth, depression is not about an individual feeling broken, it’s about an individual having a breakthrough. Being honest about how you feel is not a weakness, it is a blessing and a strength. For me I continue to struggle with so much of what is associated with depression. I have some pretty down days. I have feelings of falling short of my potential, minimal motivation to do things, sadness, loneliness among other emotions. Trust me, it’s not fun. But I am learning more and more on how to manage my emotions. This often comes by observing others who are dealing with similar mental health challenges.
As I look back on my life and all the things I have done, the jobs I have had, the places I have traveled, the knowledge I have gained, the one thing that has helped me make it through tough days are thinking about the people.
The students I taught, the players I coached, the people I hired, the leaders I developed, the leaders who taught me. I miss these people. It is something I have struggled with my entire life. I get attached to the people because I genuinely love and care about them. They have brought so much good into my life. But ironically, there are times I feel as though I did not do enough for those around me, care enough, teach enough, and those thoughts start me down a path I don’t enjoy. I can only control what lies ahead, not what is behind.
I find so much joy and happiness helping and serving others. I love listening to others so they know I care. I know there are many amazing people in my life but that can be difficult to realize when you are dealing with depression. I have never wanted to feel like a burden on others, which doesn’t help with feelings associated with depression.
So the big realization in my life is this, I am human. I will continue to press forward with determination and resolve. I will keep my head up and when it falls, I will muster the strength to lift my head again. I will never stop my love and caring for others. I will continue to find time to do those things I enjoy. I will not allow depression to be something that defines me or how I live.
I share this not for a “whoa is me” but rather a “this is me.” I extend my deepest love, empathy and support to all those who struggle with mental health. You are awesome. You are cared about. Even though you may not feel or see it, there are people in your life who love you and want to be there for you. Let them in. It has been one of the hardest things for me but I can see how it will help in so many good ways.
Finally, the world we currently live in is broken in so many ways. This is feeding into the stereo typing, labeling and judging when it comes to mental health. People are using it as a weapon. We cannot allow that to happen. We must replace the world of negativity and fear with compassion and care. Never pass up an opportunity to ask how someone is doing. You may never know how much it means but trust me, it can be a life changer.
We can do this, we are all heroes!