When you think of a personal trainer, what personality traits tend to come to mind? Cheerful, energetic, enthusiastic, right? For some people, the bubbly exterior comes naturally, and they barely have to work at it. For others, keeping it up can be draining, and they come home exhausted at the end of the day.
I struggled with depression for 15 years, without realizing why I was feeling the way I did. When I was 12 and 13, my family said it was puberty and my hormones. In high school, my grades were good and I was on the cheerleading squad, so the times that I completely broke down were chalked up to stress and working too hard. In college, I would completely shut people out; I was a ghost in the dorm, and would hide out in the library, even while I knew that what I was doing was ridiculous and uncalled for.
After college, things really spiraled out of control. My anxiety and depression were ruling and ruining my life. I would wake up on beautiful, sunny days and not be able to pull myself out of bed. Rainy days and bad weather were actually painful. I would cry over the tiniest things, and sometimes for no reason at all. I pushed everyone away, because I thought they shouldn’t have to be exposed to me when I didn't even want to be around myself.
The End of My Rope
When I finally decided to ask for help, I was completely, 100%, down to my last thread of sanity. I was desperate. The doctor's office told me I would have to wait over a month to see someone. I called every day for two weeks, begging for help, sobbing into the phone asking for someone, anyone, to please fix me. I can still remember my doctor asking me if I had considered suicide, and feeling the embarrassed tears run down my face as I turned to look out the window because there was no way I could look at her or her expression as I nodded my head yes.
For me to have these problems made no sense. I was a personal trainer! I was in the gym six days a week, encouraging people to reach their goals. I was doing and trying everything to make myself feel better—where were my endorphins, my happy hormones, my runner’s high? I was pushing myself harder and harder, in the hopes that exercise would prevent me from falling into another life-sucking black hole.
Despite all this, some people told me that if I chose to get medicated, it was basically a form of addiction, and I wasn't trying or looking hard enough to find another solution. But they couldn’t possibly comprehend what I was feeling. Nobody else knew how much of a struggle it was to get through each day, the negative thoughts I constantly battled. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I wasn't sleeping well, my brain never stopped, and nothing was working. I was at the end of my rope, and the weeks I had to wait to see a doctor were agonizing and exhausting.
Don't Go It Alone
For some people, seeking help is the first step toward finding the right balance of medication. I was one of the lucky ones that found the proper prescription on the first try. The clarity in my head was a new sensation. For the first time, I could sit and just be, and not think about anything. No thoughts of what I needed to do, what I should have done, or what I could be doing. I could sit, drink my coffee, and think about absolutely nothing.
I definitely still have days that are harder than others, but nothing like what they used to be. I'm able to get up in the morning and look forward to whatever the day might bring. Prior to seeking help, I'll be the first to tell you that I was in a terrible place and was struggling daily to deal with my issues. I'm still the same person I was before, except now I have the ability to breathe during stressful situations. Instead of hiding from the world, I prefer to get out of bed and be outdoors.
You might be like me, doing all the right things and still struggling every day. If you're in a bad place, ask for help. There's no shame in it. Don't give up. Keep asking, be persistent, and stay strong.