Through my personal experience I have seen the positive outcomes of taking part in therapy along with healthy physical activity. Taking someone that sees themselves as an addict, failure or not good enough and showing them that they can achieve goals they never dreamed they could is a beautiful transformation that I wish all could experience
Shredding the stigma around mental health begins with creating a safe space to share our personal experiences so we can relate to one another and build a relationship or bond that is stronger than any stigma. When we feel safe to become vulnerable and share our stories we begin to relate to one another and no longer feel alone in this battle.Together we can continue to move forward towards a rewarding life worth living.I am excited to become an ambassador after taking the G4G101 and look forward to shredding the stigma around mental health. I am honored to share my story and begin SHREDDING THE STIGMA!
My story starts from a young sensitive kid with lots of highs and lows not able to control my emotions. I was in trouble a lot for acting out and not paying attention. I’ve always cared more about others than myself. My first time admitted into a mental hospital was my senior year in high school. By then I figured out that alcohol would temporarily numb my feelings and make my racing thoughts subside. But, even in high school my friends knew I needed help but I didn’t see it. I was diagnosed with Bipolar type II shortly after. Being diagnosed with Bipolar type II (re-diagnosed BPD)was detrimental to me, and with all the stigma associated with it I felt like I had a scarlet letter on my chest. I was embarrassed, felt not enough, felt likeI was a broken good, and who would want me? ALCOHOL wanted me! It would make that feeling of brokenness go away and the loud thoughts would stop. This method of numbing my feelings and taking away the pain only worked for so long.I was scared to ask for help in fear of looking weak and afraid of what people would say or think of me. I just kept trying to numb the pain, quit what was hard or run from fear. I thought a lot about suicide but never could commit. OnMarch 25th, 2016 I had a letter of all the things I hated about myself written so my family would understand why I was giving up on life. (I carried that letter everywhere because I never knew when I would finally commit) If it wasn’t for a certain person seeing this letter and doing the right thing I would not be here to tell my story. This person calling the police was what I needed, I needed to see I was at the bottom. On April 4th, 2016 I committed myself to a behavioral health intensive outpatient program and this is also my sobriety date. After BHIOP I did chemical dependency intensive outpatient(CDIOP) and this is where my triathlon journey began. I set my goal of anIronman because I knew the intense training would require structure, accountability to my coach, and fill a lot of my time; which I believed I needed early in my recovery. At the time little did I know how much this journey would teach me about living a happy, fulfilled sober life.
I learned to be honest with myself and ask for help when I don’t know how to do something.
In October of 2016 I humbly walked into GeorgeMyers pool in Arvada,Co and asked the masters swim coach if he would be willing to teach me how to swim. He said of course and then I had to tell him I have exactly 1 year to go from a pitiful doggy paddle to a full Ironman distance triathlon swim. He loved the challenge, 10 months later I swam my first 2.4 miOWS.
I learned how to be okay with being uncomfortable. During that summer to get prepared for OWS I competed in the stroke and stride series in Boulder, CO. Every Thursday I would show up so nervous and scared of the OWS but, I would complete it and not quit or give up.I may have come in last or close to it but I learned to be okay with not being perfect or not being in the top. It was actually okay to be honest with myself and to be patient with the process of learning and to not quit when I felt embarrassed or not good enough. I finished every OWS I started, not to say I didn’t have my moments of panic or fear. A kayaker once told me “ you know dude t’s just water”.
I learned not to give up when things get hard.On the fourth of July I had a tough track workout followed by a century ride.It ended up being almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit that day and at mile 50 I started to lose my mental drive and at mile 80 I hit the wall known by all endurance athletes. The last 20 miles was the biggest struggle of my Ironman training. Every muscle, bone, and hair (the few I have) on my body was screaming and wanting me to quit. But, that’s when I thought of all the pain I was living with in my addiction and mental illness and it DIDN’T compare. I finished that ride with tears of happiness and for the first time in my life and I knew whatI was doing and that I needed a platform to get my story out there and build up the courage and tell it.
Through my personal experience I have seen the positive outcomes of taking part in therapy along with healthy physical activity. Taking someone that sees themselves as an addict, failure or not good enough and showing them that they can achieve goals they never dreamed they could is a beautiful transformation that I wish all could experience. Whether it be climbing a fourteener, completing a five mile run or mountain biking a desert single track it proves we are more than our addiction/mental illness.Closing the gap between the addict/mentally ill and adventurer/athlete is personally important to me. I come from an addict/mentally ill diagnoses and now see myself as an adventurer/athlete living a fulfilling life. I believe strongly that all people, regardless of diagnoses, deserve a truly fulfilling life worth living. I have spent my whole recovery working to make this a reality and I look forward to the next challenge!
I hope my story helps just one person to buildup the courage to ask for help to leave the pain and suffering and to start their own journey of a life of happiness. The more we tell our stories of addiction and mental illness the more we shred away the horrible stigma that surrounds it and support the positive impacts physical activity has on mental wellness.