Wrestling With Depression – Staying In The Fight

Do you ever just feel broken? Nah never mind, that’s shite. We’ll try again. Opening line. Make it profound. This is about serious shit Marty boy. Make this count.

Depression is like…….. nah bin that man. That’s nothing. Depression is different for everyone. That’s alienating people so it is. One more swing then patch the opening line.

I am so fuckin tired.
That’s it. That’s the one. That’s the opening line. Its perfect. Relatable to everyone because aren’t we all just fuckin tired? Even if you’re a person reading this who has never considered themselves to be mentally ill in any way. There’s one thing we all have in common. We are so, so fuckin tired.

After 10-15 years of pretty nasty depression, followed by a couple of years of actually feeling ok, then a short period of “Oh fuck, I think this is getting bad again” and now what has felt like an eternity of being absolutely fucked by this shit again, I’ve had enough experience of dealing with being mentally ill to know that this is the worst it has ever been for me personally. There’s been times in my life where I felt I had zero prospects professionally, nae pals and nae chance of avoiding dying alone where I felt my overall mental health was better than it is now. This is after becoming a published writer, having one long term ride of a burd, being an uncle, having anything between 4 and 5 pals and accomplishing a lifelong goal of interviewing my hero Mick Foley (dunno if you guys heard but that happened) This is what makes this particular spell such a head fuck of a thing. In theory I know there are lots of things to live for and to be happy about, but a lot of the time none of them matter. That sounds a bit cold, what I mean by that is that they ALWAYS matter a lot, which makes the fact that there’s times where I don’t FEEL like any of that matters all the more worrying.
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Constantly being in a state where you feel absolutely everything far too much and you also don’t feel anything at all is like being at war with yourself. You know you should care. Caring is important. Sometimes the haze clears long enough to enjoy the wee moments that make life what it is. Like my wee nephew running up to me and giving me a big cuddle that also doubles up as a headbutt in the general direction of my crotch. That will always clear the fog. Or just spending hours lying in the same position watching some shite tele with the burd. The haze sometimes clears long enough that I can appreciate that. Or when I get to spend significant time with my pals without having a constant voice in the back of my head telling me everything I have said and are about to say is shite. Shite and wrong. Sometimes the haze fucks off for long enough to enjoy that. These wee moments are nice but are becoming increasingly more difficult to come by and the one and only instinct I have is to cut myself adrift when this happens.

No man is an island right? That’s a saying that definitely means something to someone. Probably. A LOT of men however, are socially stunted shut ins desperate to avoid almost all forms of human interaction. Fuck all left to give other than the bare minimum required to keep going. Hiding under the guise of a normal guy who’s just getting on with it. The usual. The shit you’re meant to do. Job, family, mrs, beers w/boyz, fitba, coupons, darts, Game Of Thrones fanfiction and last but not least…BEERS. Keep the façade up for long enough that you actually start to believe it too.
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I don’t want the façade anymore though. I don’t want to pretend this is a period I am negating quite easily because it really isn’t. My mind has not been healthy for such a long time now I’ve forgot what it felt like to be ok again. For that 2-3 years where I’d got to a place of not being constantly fucked by this, I had forgotten what it was like to be here. Almost complacent that I’d figured this out and I wouldn’t end up back in the same state. Its almost like my brain reset itself only to decide it actually preferred the bottomless bit of sad and deciding it wanted the abyss back. This is getting a bit heavy but eh? Don’t want folk to check out early. There’s a message to convey here. Important as fuck.

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The wrestling community, particularly in Scotland, was absolutely shaken to its core a month ago when we lost an integral part of that community far too soon. Adrian ‘Lionheart’ Mccallum was a man who conveyed nothing but positivity in his work. An all action performer in the ring, a confident voice on the microphone, a man who had survived a lot of adversity and emerged stronger for it and a man who had come through all that adversity to enjoy what felt like a career purple patch. It was all going right after probably too many years of having his fair share of shit going wrong. I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that depression isn’t just sadness. We all experience that and I think that makes people (usually well meaning people) feel like they can dish out advice on how to tackle something that makes you feel like a failure even when you clearly are not that. A thing that makes you feel like your accomplishments are not your own. How could they be? A fuck up like me doing all this cool shit? Come off it.

It’s a dirty hulking beast of a thing that can and will destroy you even when you should be bulletproof. It literally kills people every day. It kills men at an alarming rate and while it will never stop doing that, we HAVE to do all we can to reduce it. We just have to. Its not an optional thing anymore. Its an epidemic. Every single person reading this will have been affected by suicide in some way, shape or form. Chances are they will be affected by it several more times before they sign their scorecard for eh…life (tried to make that a golf metaphor cause The Open’s on but I don’t think it got over) Its hard as fuck because speaking up means having to deal with it but its time to speak the truth on this. The only way to combat it is being open in my opinion and as much as I don’t think that opinion matters a fuck because of mental illness, the fact that I’m a card carrying veteran of this shit should at least mean YOU listen to me, even if I don’t.
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When I attended ICW’s tribute show for Lionheart I really wanted to do a wrestling review of it. One of they things I used to do all the time with all the slang and the hefty bantz. That one. 5 minutes in to the show I knew that wasn’t happening. It was a night when, as good as it was, the wrestling didn’t matter. That show was part of the healing process for so many people who cared about that man and ultimately, that’s all that mattered when it came down to it. One thing that impressed me so much with everyone who took to the microphone that night is that they let it show. They put their grief on display because hiding it does no one any good. People need to see the pain this horrible thing leaves behind so they can understand just how much pain an individual has to be in to knowingly put their nearest and dearest through that.

If you’ve ever attached the word “selfish” to someone taking their own life, I get it, you’re angry, but it makes no sense. How can a thing that means you literally stop existing be a “selfish” act? Who is anyone to say someone should stick around and put themselves through hell on earth just so you don’t need to deal with feeling some sort of way about it? It is the least selfish act you can do because selfishness implies there’s future gain in the action. If you do something selfish, you benefit from it at some point. No one has ever benefitted from dying, even if that death means pain goes away, because so does everything else.

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While everyone who spoke that night was impressively honest and full of strength, the person who got me the most was Viper. She was not afraid to say what she really wanted to say and as much as it tore yer heart to bits, it was so necessary. Its ok to feel that wee bit of anger. Its not anger directed at the person you miss. Its anger at the situation. Its anger at feeling like you could have helped and not knowing what else you could have done to prevent this. Being honest and feeling your pain out loud is the only way to properly convey how fucking devastating it is. A person who touched so many lives in such a brilliant way, couldn’t not fucking bear to be on this earth anymore. Peak of his powers personally and professionally on the surface, but underneath the beast was doing its work. Undermining everything positive. Making it seem unimportant or just plain not true.

Viper’s words brought a tear, just as Mark Dallas, Joe Hendry and Grado’s words had earlier in the night, but the main event perhaps trumped it all for emotion. A thing few artforms could replicate quite like wrestling can. The Kinky Party vs Polo Promotions paid homage to Lionheart the performer, Lionheart the man and also somehow wrote a concluding chapter in the man’s most significant career feud without him even being there as Jackie Polo was the last one to leave the ring. If that frog splash from Sha Samuels didn’t instantly make you tear up, you are probably not ok on the inside. Maybe not dead entirely, but your inner wiring is definitely at least a bit fucked.
I sincerely hope that show and the one that happens tomorrow help the healing.

The fact that any of his closest pals are performing at all right now is a testament to them, but to face this grief head on in situations where it will be simply impossible to put the big man to the back of your mind is admirable. Tomorrow Adrian’s last show goes ahead. A show he booked for a promotion he was correctly very proud of. Celebrating its 8th year of existence having built it from the ground up. It goes ahead exactly as it was planned and while this will be the last Pro Wrestling Elite show, I hope the memories this leaves behind at the no doubt packed out Citadel Centre means it not the last of the wrestling his hometown of Ayr sees.
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I’ve always been conscious of writing things about mental health where the conclusion has some beacon of positivity in there but that’s not always the case. Sometimes there’s fuck all positive to say and manufacturing something so the whole thing feels a bit lighter defeats the purpose of writing it in the first place. Mental health issues literally kill people. So many fuckin people. All the time. There are people in your life suffering right now and you don’t have a fucking clue. Mostly because they probably don’t fully understand what the fuck it is they’re going through either. Help them. Speak about your experiences with dealing with this shit both directly and indirectly. The more everyone talks the more normal all of this becomes. The more normal is becomes the less people feel ashamed of something they have very little control over. Don’t suffer in silence then vanish. Someone gives a fuck. In most cases several people do. The most terrifying thing about this is that it can strip away all your defences without you really knowing its happening. The first clue you get is that morning you look in the mirror and see it. Awake but asleep at the same time. Thinking about everything and nothing all at once. So fuckin tired. Done in.

Stay in the fight. Speak to someone, even if it doesn’t make you feel any better, it will make you feel somewhat connected to…something. Take care of each other.