September 2nd 2012. The Garage, Glasgow. Three friends and I attended our second ever ICW show. A new and exciting interest for us as a team. Something very different. The first show we’d been to was entertaining enough to make giving it a second go a no-brainer and the second show knocked the socks clean off me personally. As a whole show, ICW Hadouken! was excellent but it was the beautiful 15-20 minutes of wrestling that rounded it off that was life changing on a personal level. It wasn’t the finest match of all time, although it was very good. It wasn’t the most captivating rivalry of all time, although it felt like it was on the night. It didn’t have the eyes of the world watching, like the two performers involved have become accustomed to now, but when Finn Balor (then known as Prince Devitt) came face to face with hometown hero Wolfgang, something changed in me. It flicked a switch in me personally that hadn’t been flicked in a long time and for the first time in maybe 10 years something captivated me. Something broke down the door of the dark room my mental state had kept me in for years, and opened the curtains to let in a bit of light. No more than a glimmer, but even that glimmer was enough to make me want more. The crowd started electric and the match the two performers provided was enough to blow the whole circuit board to fuck.
That match was just the start. I had yet to write about wrestling at that point and was still in a very dark place with depression, but it started something. An unprecedented turnaround. Watching that show and that match lit up my brain so much it made me realise just how bad a state I was in before. If I can feel this good just from re-discovering the wonder of pro wrestling as an adult, what else is possible? A consistent state of NOT feeling like shite? Lofty ambitions but for a while it was reality. For a while it really happened. For a while full hours of time could pass by without a dark thought. Without self loathing. Inescapable torment. Anxiety about every possible thing, from making a phonecall to eating a meal in front of someone. For a while it wasn’t constant and I’d even say I had it under control. As much as its possible to do that. That’s the trap though isn’t it. Feeling like you have it under control to the point that not every day is a fight. Having it under control to the point that a full day can sometimes pass without it even registering that you’ve suffered before. A life I honestly never seen being possible for myself for such a long period, but I took it for granted and well. Here we are now. A state. Pish.
That’s maybe overstating it a bit. As I sit writing this I am comforted by the thought that as bad as the past 6 months or so have been at times, I’ve never quite got to the very worst level. The odd day has been written off. Sometimes a full week will go past without much relief from it. But it’s not every day. It’s not constant. It’s just worse than it was for quite a long time and with that comes the return of the self loathing. The return of that wee voice constantly telling you how shite you are. If you’ve experienced me in person and found me to a mumbling, quiet, somewhat dour cunt at times. That’s what does it. That wee devil on the shoulder shouting down everything that pops into my head. Any notion of being proud or confident in myself. Almost choked to death. To the point that I can’t even let out a squeak. It used to completely destroy me and in turn, any prospect of finding a purpose and building a life. Then wrestling happened again, and I found a wee talent. A wee niche. I reviewed one ICW show for a laugh on Facebook because a mate couldn’t make it and it got a few likes. A few random folk commenting on it. I decided to write my first review on a blog because why the fuck not eh.
When your brain is constantly telling you you’re shite and everything is pointless sometimes it can work in your favour with things like that. If you don’t believe what you’re doing matters, the apprehension about putting your work out there and letting people see it goes away. If your brain can’t comprehend WHY anyone would actually want to pay attention to something you’ve produced, all that goes out the window. Then people really did read it and fucking…..just WOW. It cant be overstated how much I needed that and as much as we shouldn’t rely on the praise and validation of others to make us tick, fuck it. It helps a whole lot if you do have that. People who didn’t know me from the cunt doon the road who sells tenner bags for a score (inflation innit) taking time out their day to read something I wrote and then to tell me it was good. It was amazing to me. That switch that got flicked when I stood and watched Balor vs Wolfgang lead to a thousand more switches being flicked and a state of mind that had become so withered and dark was suddenly illuminated and vibrant.
Writing about wrestling was something I loved, something that re-ignited my dormant creative side and astoundingly I was actually fucking good at it. Not to toot my own dick here, but I am fucking great at it when I put my mind to it and as much as having that talent hasn’t led to a lot of monetary reward, for a while it was the most wonderfully rewarding thing I’d ever done. It changed me and made me see that not only did I have worth in this particular area of life, I had worth everywhere. I was a person you could and should be friends with. I was a person who could maybe hold the interest of a human female to the point that one of them might even consider gien us a wee winch. I fucking mattered and considering the past 10+ years had floated by becoming increasingly trapped by my mental health and increasingly possessed in particular with the notion that I didn’t matter at all, that was an amazing thing.
It wasn’t plain sailing from there right enough. With realising the full extent of the suffering to that point came figuring out how the fuck to deal with it all. How to deal with having an active social life that included several trips outwith the wee room that became my depression haven in the worst years. How to deal with suddenly feeling like a human being who might be desirable to the opposite sex, and even dealing with members of the opposite sex actively desiring me (in other words, I turned in tae a fuckin fanny magnet overnight….sorta…..no really….) but more importantly than that, I had to figure out how the fuck to get better. Change that constant pain in the arse self doubt ridden voice to a positive one on a permanent basis and go from there. Easier said than done. Two stints at therapy. Two stints on anti depressants. A lot of looking inward and trying to figure out why my thought process became so unhinged and almost not in touch with reality. It was hard work. A daily grind. If you’ve ever wondered how so many people who suffer from mental health issues can unwittingly lose years, even decades to it, that’s why. Sometimes its easier to just give in and lie the fuck down. In the dark. Real tangible darkness married with the metaphorical kind that clouds every thought and feeling. If you can’t muster up the energy to make yourself some lunch and maybe open the blinds, where the fuck are you getting the energy to change your whole thought process and repair your broken mind? Its not there, and the poison that’s infiltrated your brain will tell you even if the energy is there, it would be pointless dedicating it to such a futile thing. Pointless. Depression at its worst convinces you that every single person on planet earth besides you deserves happiness, wile at the same time convincing you somehow your existence as an unhappy person is bothersome to absolutely everyone else on the planet. a horrid vicious cycle that only taking action can change.
I’d say around a year and a half ago after coming off anti-depressants for the second time was about as comfortable as I’ve felt in my own skin as an adult. Fuck it, probably ever, because who’s actually comfortable as a child? always growing and sprouting hairs in new places. Its a recipe for constant discomfort. So at 26 and a half years old, this was the first time in my life I’d ever felt somewhat normal. Not bothered by mental health problems on a daily basis and when there was a bit of bad feeling there, it never going beyond that. Never becoming more than just a wee nagging doubt. I’ll no lie, it was blissful. Without wrestling it would never have happened so I felt this debt to it. An obligation to keep grafting at the writing. Make it something it probably won’t ever be. My job. Because it was like a drug. The writing itself and how it was received was like that good crack or the sweet sweet herowine. People get paid to write eh? Why couldn’t that be my life? For a while making that happen was all that mattered until I realised it wasn’t quite impossible, but extremely close. The ultimate goal I had professionally was simply to interview my wrestling hero Mick Foley. A thing I never expected to happen at all, never mind it happening because he read my work and was impressed enough to contact ME first. That sort of validation was something my constantly repairing brain wasn’t ready for. I didn’t know how to cope with it. Convincing myself that l not only deserve that recognition but I had earned it was impossible. I didn’t understand why anyone cared about what I done, far less someone I had pretty much idolised since I was 10 years old.
Its only been very recently that I’ve been able to look back on this and feel pride about it which is wild considering it was now over two years ago. This should have been the biggest blessing but for my mind it set me up for everything else to feel like failure. When you reach your very highest goal so early, the only way to go from there is down. In my mind, interviewing Mick Foley should have led to multiple best-selling books, a job running my own magazine, and an endless supply of the finest silk linens, but all it really brought was self-doubt, self loathing, and repeating that it happened on a daily basis on twitter in case anyone happened to forget “Mind that time I interviewed Mick Foley?” The answer is never no. Everyone minds.
My recent inability to write consistently comes from two places in my mind. One is the general difficulty I’ve had mentally for a number of months now, which truth be told makes everything from taking a deep breath to making a doctor’s appointment difficult. Especially with a full-time day job, a person with depression can’t do it all. The fact that I very rarely miss my day job is an achievement in itself but the nagging feeling that you’re not doing the thing you were put on this earth to do in the meantime is a wee bit soul-destroying. The whole reason I have a job that’s local and easy to get to is so I can use my “free” time for writing so if im not doing that, what’s the fucking point in anything? the other thing that stops it is just pressure. An expectation I put on myself that no one else does. A pressure for everything to be better than the last thing. A pressure that just did not exist in those blissful days when I first started doing it and wrote about every bit of wrestling I set eyes on. It’s still my passion, but teaching my brain that it’s not the be all and end all has been hard. I done a few interviews last year that got overwhelmingly good feedback. The Sha Samuels one in particular and as much as the pride and self worth that comes with that initially is nice, once it dies down this horrible feeling stays. A feeling that nothing you’ll ever do will come close. As much as the Foley interview is a life highlight and something I never thought would be possible, its stuff like the Sha interview that fucks with me even more. That sickening feeling that it’ll never be this good again. It’s the wrong mindset to have and I hope 2018 is the year I finally get rid of it and just enjoy doing what I do without feeling pressured to do more of it, or feeling so pressured that I’m unable to do it at all. This is the first time i’ve written at all since November 27th 2017. The longest gap since I started doing it and one I hope is never repeated.
How do I stop that being repeated? I wish I knew, but this week I’ve made a start. This week I made an extremely difficult phone call to get back to counselling/therapy or whatever you fancy calling it; I made that decision despite the fact that im probably struggling just as much now as I was struggling when I first went on anti-depressants, because as helpful as they were at the time, it’s not the road I want to go down just yet. Mainly because the side effects are so fucking awful and one sip of beer leads to a 4 day hangover, but also because counselling is the only thing that’s ever really took. Some of the things I’ve learned going through that process have stayed with me and have been vital in stopping this current spell getting much worse. This week I told my parents the extent of how I’ve been feeling after nights tossing and turning, wondering how they’d take it. Thinking they’d be disappointed in me (they weren’t) and that they’d judge me for not being able to get through it on my own (they didn’t)
This week I wrote this, and as much as its took two painful sittings to complete, it’s almost there. Its real and how I’ve really felt for a long time and it feels good to have it out there. It’s not been a good time for me and its fine to admit that. Its fine to take ownership of it and want it to change and it took a lot longer than it should have for me to realise that. I felt ashamed for feeling bad again because I was supposed to have this under control. In my mind, getting better wasn’t a temporary state, and I clearly underestimated the kind of bad bastard I was dealing with when I thought that. It took months to get rid of that feeling of shame towards myself. The main characteristic I see in my own depression and how I know its getting bad is the feeling of waking up on any given morning and wishing I hadn’t. That’s come back with a vengeance recently and its not welcome. It needs to get itself to fuck, or it will be forcibly removed. Not to get all preacher-y on ye here, but every fucking day is a blessing and one of the most frustrating things about being mentally ill is knowing that for a fact but not being able to feel it. Just over a year ago my nephew was born and when I held that wee fucker for the first time I’d never felt instant love for a human being quite like that. In a weeks time I will have been in the same relationship with someone I love very much for 3 whole years, and we’re going away for a few days to celebrate that wonderful fact after a fucker of a year. My parents deserve a son that is more than just an occasional visitor on good days, non-existent on the bad ones. I’ve missed out on good times with my friends because I’ve simply not been able to be there for various reasons. These are all very good reasons to get better and motivate me but they aren’t the main reason. If they were, any attempt to get better would always fall flat.
I wrote a note once. A long time ago now. Maybe 8-9 years ago. But I wrote it. It was two pages long and it was all the reasons I didn’t want to live anymore. It was any attempt I’d ever made to rationalise the deeply empty feeling I carried with me constantly written down on paper. The reasons not to live anymore. The reasons I don’t DESERVE to live anymore. I wrote it down, read it back once, felt very little, almost like what I’d written was normal, and binned it. Telling myself it would be selfish to do it. How would my mother ever get over that? How dare I not want to live when me being dead will inconvenience everyone else? The reason I’m saying that is deep down I don’t think I really wanted to die, but the reasons I came up with for not doing it weren’t right. I didn’t care about staying alive for ME. I cared about staying alive for everyone elses sake. That was wrong. The main thing that’s changed between the person I was when I wrote that note and the person I am now is realising that getting better has to be an almost selfish venture. It has to be about self-improvement and the knock on effect being improvement in all aspects of life. Including relationships with anyone of significance. You can’t help anyone else if you’re not right within yourself. My goal for 2018 is simply that. Get better. Get as far away as possible from the young man who was once so possessed by dark thoughts that it felt like a good idea to write down the reasons that it was ok to deprive himself of what could be a long and (at least sometimes) happy life. Live my very best life. Do the things I love and do them with the people I love. Maybe one day I can live my own dreams just like the two men who were involved in the match that changed it all get to do every single week.
Thank you to David.J Wilson for the Devitt and Wolfy photo. Thank you to whoever took the rest of them anaw, but yer nae David J Wilson let me tell ye.