Wrestling and Depression (or ‘how wrestling saved my life’ if yer into melodrama)

Not entirely sure where I’m going to go with this, but its been floating around my brain and it needs fuckin oot.

I touched on it a wee bit on a facebook status in the wake of Robin Williams death. He was one of warmest, most talented men walking the earth, and he saw no light at the end of his tunnel. No light illuminating the seemingly endless darkness. Nothing left to live for, when at 63 he amassed more personal wealth and accomplishments than you and I could ever dream of. If this doesn’t dispel the myth that theres a selfishness about suicide and depression in general, I don’t know if anything will. I can understand loved ones feeling that a person who has committed suicide has been selfish in choosing to leave them behind, but a stranger making that judgement of another person? Fuck that tae fuck. Robin Williams had everything in this world to live for, but depression is a disease that warps the way you see everything. Particularly yourself. Unless you’ve been to the deepest, darkest depths of it theres no way you can begin to understand. No way you can know. I was there for 8 years of my life. I call it 8, because I only regarded it as having properly started when I’d consider myself an adult. When mood problems can no longer be excused as raging hormones. In reality, I probably started sinking into the darkness when I was around 12-13, and only started seeing the light again when I was 24. As grateful as I am to be free of the demons for the majority of the time these days, I still can’t help but feel some resentment at my own mental state causing me to miss out on a lot of normal things. A lot of things that shape people in later life. Experiences. Most peoples mid teens-early twenties are characterised by socialising, friends, parties, drinking, smoking, shaggin and general ‘causin it’, mine were characterised by this room. The room I’m sitting in while I write this. My own personal tomb. A safe haven from everyone. A place where I could close the door, pour another solo vodka without judgement. Maybe gently caressing my nipples to the sweet sound of Simply Red in the process(trying tae lighten the mood ffs…).
I suppose my room was a physical representation of the prison I felt I was in mentally. Anytime I did manage to drag myself out of it, be it for work, college, a night out. Whatever. I always wanted to go back. I suppose its similar to the way folk feel when they’ve been in prison for a long time and finally get near a release date. Prison is all they know. They fear the outside world. It got to a stage where being a prisoner in my own brain was all I knew. The very though of pursuing dreams was harrowing. I got on a computing course because of the list of courses available it seemed like the one that would require less human interaction than the others and could lead to a job that would fit the same bill. I want to be a guy who fixes “things” without ever having to speak to them. The enemy. “People”

One of the main characteristics of my own depression was never feeling like I had a voice. I used to dread any kind of gathering that would involve more than one or two people, because the more people there was, the less I felt like my voice mattered. Put it this way, if you feel like the least imposing person in a group, its a lot easier to be the 3rd least imposing person out of 3, than the 15th least imposing person out of 15. The more people there were, the more lonely it felt. Clubs were a fucking nightmare. I can count on the one hand the amount of time I’ve been in proper nightclubs (apart fae for wrestling obviously) because that was where it was blatantly obvious how different I was. Everyone talking. People winching and even slipping the haun on the dancefloor. People loudly having a good fuckin time. Nothing made me retreat into my shell faster than a fucking nightclub. All I heard was LOUD NOISES. All I felt was a desire to go behind the bar, swallow a bottle of Jack Daniels whole, and thrash around until it smashed to bits inside me. All I ever felt in nightclubs was this warning sign going off in my head. GET TO THE FUCKIN EXIT NOW, AND GET THE FUCK HAME BEFORE THEY SMELL THE DISCOMFORT AFF YE. DO IT. THERES HAUF A BOTTLE OF PULSE AND THE CHICAGO BULLS VS THE BOSTON CELTICS ON ESPN IF YE DAE..RUNNNNNN!. Writing ended all that. Writing and having people react positively to it made me feel that for the first time in my adult life, my voice mattered. My voice resonated. My voice, and the words I projected with it made an impression on people,

I suppose I’m trying to paint vivid picture of how deep it was to make it clear just how much things have gotten better since, and the part wrestling played in that. Starting going to ICW at least gave me some social confidence. Talking to people I didn’t know was a no-no, but there was at least something that I fucking loved going to that got me out the house at a place that wasn’t a local pub for a few hours a month. The first match that made me feel like I used to about wrestling was Wolfgang vs Prince Devitt. A triumph in physicality and storytelling and a big part of the reason why I count both of them as two of my all time favourite wrestlers. That match and ICW showed me real wrestling still existed. The first show I went to where one of my group of pals couldnt make it, I decided to write a wee humorous overview of the show for him on facebook. Some daft patter from memory. Just to keep him up to date and keep myself amused. I’d made a few twitter pals through my increased interest and patter about wrestling, and one of them was too ill to make the next show. I didn’t have her on Facebook though, but I felt the need to provide the same service and it had always been my aspiration to be a writer. Most people have a clear idea from a young age what they want to do when they ‘grow up’ and pursue it, for me my thing always seemed unattainable. To much of a risk to really through my weight behind it, even though I believed I had a talent there. So I gave up on that. I gave up on everything really, but giving up on that was the biggest mistake of all. Having no faith in the only thing that makes sense to you is a scary feeling. If I don’t have faith in that, how the fuck am I supposed to trust anything else? But for some reason I decided to fucking do it. No thoughts about people not giving a fuck or ridiculing it entered my mind. I opened a wee blogspot, typed in the first name I could think of..that was “Snapmare Necks” it was a placeholder at first, and I even made the URL of the site something more generic cause I wasnt sure about the name, but it has since gone on to stick. Point is, opening that blog just to fire a wee ICW review down for my pal who was too ill to make the show was the start of me getting better, and that friendship in itself played a huge part in it too, because it was that friendship that re-ignited the way I used to feel about wrestling. She saw it the way I saw it. When everything absorbed me and I bought in to almost everything put in front of me. The same as it used to when I was wee, the last time I was truly happy. It was almost like I went back in time, and for a while it felt like that period of depression never happened. I likened it to being trapped in a dingy wee cupboard for years, huddled up in a wee ball, bathing in darkness, tormented by your own shadow, then all of a sudden you hear someone turn a key and the door swings wide open to reveal the motherfucking light. Its THERE…it EXISTS…its fucking…..its……REAL.

For a while it was a constant high. I was creative for the first time in years. Every single day was writing. Wrestling reviews, short stories, jotting down ideas for other stuff, drawings. It was like my brain was in a coma, and all of a sudden it shot to life. I could barely sleep either. For the first few weeks of my brain starting to emerge from what felt like an endless deep dark sleep, I couldnt switch off. I stopped drinking on my own because the reason I done that was purely so I could feel ok about myself. Imagine living a life where you have to tan a few drinks just so yer arse doesn’t clench up when you’re on your own. Horrendous. Every single week I’d buy a bottle of Vodka on a Friday after college, and even if I did go to the pub that weekend, I’d still tan that bottle over the course of the weekend. That’s not entirely unusual for a young person like, but it is when you drink it on your own. Watching shite films and even shiter sitcoms and wishing away the hours. Not that those wishes were aimed at anything, cause its not like I ever properly slept. One of things about my depression and I’m sure a lot of other peoples is that it relies on routine to chase the real madness away. Without a routine nothing but fear exists, and even when you introduce something that might not be the best thing for you into that routine, it has to stay in there or that sparks more fear. More uncertainty. So I developed gambling problems, substance problems, poor eating habits (thats one that hasnt changed enough tbh) deeper problems with drink and some wild self induced mood swings. I prayed for the dull, disinterested feeling that followed me throughout my life to turn into anger every now and then, and when it did I fucking thrived on it, not because I like anger, because it was SOMETHING. I’ll never forget the night where I had a half bottle of vodka and various other things in me, and I punched a hole through my bedroom door because of the result of a BASKETBALL game. Fucking basketball. I like basketball, and I have a team I support, but its fucking basketball. They play 82 games a season ffs. Ye cannae be punching holes in doors if ONE game goes wrong. But I did. Still got a wee scar on my finger, and when I saw the blood run down my hand I felt fucking amazing. Like I was human again. That might seem like fuck all compared to what others put themselves trough self harm wise through depression, but it means a lot to me, cause I look back at the person I was then and I don’t identify with that tube at all. That tells me that while I might never be completely free, I’m doing a million times better than I was, and I’ll forever be thankful of that.

The reason I believe I’m doing so much better is pretty simple. Stories. To me stories are the ultimate form of escapism. Reading them, writing them, telling them, sharing them. Stories. And wrestling is ridden with them. So many different stories on the go at once, often intertwined with each other. Sometimes they might not be great stories, but they were still stories. Once I started seeing wrestling a similar way as I did when I was wee, I was hooked again. For years it had been more of a passing interest. I watched all the WWE PPVs and kept up with RAW, that was it. I barely cared about it on any level other than it being a way to pass the time. When I started writing, all of a sudden I was into EVERYTHING again. I watched old stuff, stuff I’d never seen before, a huge amount of Japanese Wrestling too, which is something I’d never seen before and every day was like I was discovering something new. Something exciting. New stories. New things that allowed my mind to wander. Where they going with this? How are they going to pace this match? Andre The Giant vs Antonio Inoki? How’s he gonnae get the big man off his feet? Shinsuke Nakamura was one of the first ‘new’ wrestlers who grabbed my attention. An intriguing character and a unique performer in the ring, there was a mercurial genius about him that superseded any language barrier. His work absorbed me. By the time the next ICW show rolled round, I had been writing non stop about wrestling, but I still didn’t treat it as anything other than a wee hobby. My reviews were more focussed on humour than accuracy. Still, from memory I reviewed ICW again, and this time I punted it all over twitter. Fuck knows why. This was the first sign for me that I was improving mentally, because the very idea of sharing something I created would have made my arse clench up so tight you could crack walnuts wae it, but I didn’t give it a fuck. Tweeted it to everyone involved on the show, and the feedback was strangely good. A few RTs and people commenting on how entertaining it was. The first person involved with the shows who commented was Billy Kirkwood and he called it “the best review he’d ever read” I’ve no idea if Billy will read this, nor am I even sure if I’ll put it up, but if those two things do happen, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for that. I’m sure he probably thought it didn’t mean much, but for a man in his position to take a moment out of his day to praise something I produced. It meant the world. To someone with low self esteem, those words drove me. They gave me belief that what I was doing was worthwhile, which was a feeling that had become alien to me. I’ll forever be thankful for that, and believe that without it I probably wouldn’t have had the belief to properly pursue writing as more than a hobby, and I’ve since gone on to write for a magazine. Even if nothing more comes of this for me career wise, that’s something I can tick off the bucket list (I dont have a fucking bucket list btw, this isnae a film mate and I’m not that lame…naw honestly…I’m no) for the past few months I’ve been somewhere close to my only career aspiration. Becoming a journalist. Not a sensationalist wankpiece for a tabloid either. A proper writer. Writing what I feel, and putting a unique slant on it. Entertaining people with words.

Another thing Billy provided which I’ll always been thankful for aswell, is an empathetic ear when things got difficult in my personal life. This was the first real test of my re-emergence from depression. Family problems. Over Christmas and New Year I felt myself sinking again. Family issues are hard at the best of times, but when they occur over an emotionally charged period like the festive season? They can swallow you whole. I had recently got in to my first proper relationship also, and I felt a lot of pressure from that. I always felt like I had no fucking idea what I was doing, and when everything else went to shit personally, I could feel the same thing happening with that. Every day was anxiety. My stomach was in knots. I barely wrote a thing, and eventually the relationship ended. So there I was. Somewhere near the end of January, after emerging from nearly a decade of deep, seemingly irreversible depression and almost completely turning my life around…sinking again. I was upset with myself for feeling that way. Like I was going back there. I blamed myself for everything. I assumed it was my fault the relationship ended and assumed it was my fault that everything else was fucked anaw. It was 3 days before the ICW Square Go, and on the morning of that show I decided I couldn’t go. All I’d done for three days was greet and contemplate the futility of existence. But something inside me told me that if I didn’t go to this show and somehow squeeze some words out about it, I would go back to that dark place again. If I didnt pull myself up by my bootstraps (fucking cliched shite, dont even wear boots) and drag my weary, sleepless arse to the Garage, that was it. No more writing, no more self esteem, no more anything. Done and dusted. So I went. I took in the show. I took some notes, but they were shite, and over the course of the next week, in amongst spells of greetin (thats crying for any american folks reading this), heidering a wall and firing hunners of wagon wheels in a blender and drinking it as a milkshake, I somehow squeezed a review out. The worst shit I’ve written to date by a fucking mile. Riddled with inaccuracies (Wolfgang actually tweeted it as “an inaccurate review” and Mikey Whiplash wholeheartedly agreed wae that assessment, cheers for that boaysies ;)) but the fact that I even done it at all told me that I’d probably be awrite. Even if it might seem useless and futile to some, I’d found the thing I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to write. I wanted to write entertaining, profound (and hopefully accurate) words about professional wrestling, and I wanted to do it in a way that naecunt had ever seen before. I wanted people to FEEL things when they read my shit. I wanted them to feel the passion I felt and I knew at that point, fuck all was going to stop me doing that. Nothing. That’s when I knew I was free. Free of that malaise. Free of the disinterest with life in general. I had a purpose.

Since then life’s got better again. The family problems have alleviated and I feel that brightness I felt when I first started to emerge from the mental torment. I fully believe that I didn’t go to that show and write words about it, I’d be back to where I was before. Back in that dingy mental dungeon. Much like my depression was characterised by a routine of negative things, my emergence from it was characterised by a routine based on positive things. Writing, interacting with friends, speaking more openly to my family, eating more healthily, drinking less. Without that routine, I would sink again. Without wrestling, I would sink again. Without going to that show, I’d have never been afforded the opportunity to write for FSM. Who got me on board because of the level of detail in my reviews. A lot of that comes from taking wee notes on my phone at shows, but all that does is sparks my brain into replaying the match in my head and feeling what I felt when it was on. That’s what wrestling does to my brain. Sets the fucker on fire. That’s why I’ll forever be very appreciative and staunchly defensive of the things writing about it have given me, because without it I’d be fuck all. A hollow shell of a man. So if you present writing to me and theres an agenda behind it, ie…I don’t feel like you do it because you love writing or want to tell a story. If I feel like its writing for the sake of something. To get yourself involved in the business as opposed to writing about it because it inspires you, I wont like your shit. I make no apologies for that, because if you don’t write with passion, what’s the point in you writing? Why do your words mean shit to me? Why should they mean shit to anyone else? I guess i’m ultra defensive of it cause I feel like it saved me, and I cherish what it gives me. If people dont feel the same way I do about it, they shouldn’t be doing it, or if they do it, get it oot my face. That’s snobby as fuck, but fuck it. A lot of the stuff I read when I first started doing this was unimaginative garbage and its since got a lot fucking better. I hope that continues because Scottish wrestling and wrestling in general deserves to be covered the way it should be watched. Brain off, emotions engaged. Settled down for story time. Stories through lariats, powerslams, german suplexes and Canadian de-fuckin-stroyers. Thats why the people who seem to dedicate their lives highlighting the negatives in wrestling and revelling when things go wrong can eternally swivel. Thats why the folk who use their position to manipulate others into doing things for ‘exposure’ can eternally swivel anaw (sending me scuddies and taking the huff when I dont send any i return is not a professional way to run a podcast) if you dont do this because you love it then for me you have no business doing it.

Wrestling saved my life. Wrestling made everything else make some degree of sense. Wrestling made me the person I am today, and I’ll forever feel like I owe it something for that. I hope my words continue to be enough to repay that.

Fuckin…wrestling.

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