Drew McIntyre’s Road To The Wrestlemania Main Event

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When Drew Mcintyre was released from WWE in 2013 there was no precedent there for a return that could yield any real success. Sure WWE had re-signed guys in the past and used them but never to any kind of meaningful extent. The biggest part of that is probably due to many of these talents not having a wrestling background or any kind of real love for wrestling before they were signed, so once the WWE journey was at its end, so was the wrestling one. Any released talents with a bit of name value will give the indies a wee taste of the exact act they seen on TV for years (rumour has it some will even refuse to lose on said indies because it would send shockwaves round the wrestling stratosphere if Chavo Guerrero loses in Saltcoats) but won’t make any big attempt to deviate from that act. Even guys like Cody Rhodes, who has since gone on to re-invent himself and revolutionise wrestling in many ways, struggled to separate himself from his WWE past when he first started making appearances outwith WWE. It was never the done thing until Drew took approximately an hour to lick his wounds after his release before deciding the only way to respond was to really fucking respond. Attack is the best form of defence as they say, so Drew decided to defend his reputation by attacking the whole wrestling world.

He started in the most natural place possible. Glasgow. In front of a 1,000+ crowd who were all there for ICW pre Drew Galloway. They had been there for many months before as ICW worked towards one of the biggest shows in their history, yet few could have anticipated the change of gears that was to come for the company on that night. As good auld JR would say, business well and truly picked up that night when just a few short days after his WWE release, TAFTKA Drew Mcintyre re-emerged as Drew Galloway and threw petrol on the already roaring ICW fire, taking the company and his own career to another level. Few would have predicted that night that Drew was just 6 years away from Claymore Kicking Brock Lesnar out his boots and out the ring on the way to winning the Royal Rumble, but you could feel something special was happening. It was like the shackles had been taken off and years of frustration melted away in the form of the absolute tanking he gave the NAK that night. Seemingly in aid of his auld pal Jack Jester before he turned on him as well and kicked off one of the most engaging feuds in British Wrestling history. Jack Jester vs Drew Galloway headlining the famous Barrowlands Ballroom for the ICW Title.

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He spent the next 3 years of his career conquering the wrestling world. Putting himself through a schedule that would make WWE talent wince. Putting his physical and mental health in jeopardy to chase this dream all over again. This time Drew wasn’t going to rest on his laurels. He no longer existed as a wrestler with a steady job, frustrated but almost content to wait for a proper opportunity to come along as part of the WWE family. Drew knew that if he was ever going to achieve what he wanted to in wrestling that he was going to have to show them why they were wrong. He was going to have to show them exactly how Drew Galloway makes wrestling companies better. Particularly the ones who show enough faith in him to have them leading the charge as their champion. Every company he touched in that time he made better. ICW done incredible numbers and had some of the most memorable feuds in their history happen while he was there both as champion and in his time without the title, following Grado’s victory over Drew in front of an unprecedented 4,000 strong crowd at the SECC.

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ICW would go on to top that number the following year after pulling 6,000+ in at The Hydro but the feud that took ICW to a 4,000 sell out well in advance of the show was Grado vs Drew. Never has a more effective portrayal of the battle between good and evil been portrayed in a wrestling ring as the towering madman prepared to behead ICWs favourite son only be be thwarted by a herculean effort from Grado that sent the SECC wild when he eventually dethroned the champion a year after he’d taken the title from Jack Jester. Many bigger foes, both in size and reputation, had tried to take the title that Drew had turned into a World Title during his reign but none had the almighty pull of 4,000 fans almost unanimously wanting you to do it. It takes a special kind of villain to make that kind of scenario possible. It takes a special kind of wrestler to turn people shedding tears of joy at the sight of you, to them baying for your blood in just over a year, but that’s what Drew is. Special.

His impact was felt all over the world as he took the Evolve Title soon after his release and was a mainstay there until his re-signing with WWE. Drew sent the video of his ICW return to Mick Foley who was so taken aback by the reaction and subsequent kicking he handed out that he texted Triple H and told him to keep an eye on that big Scottish unit they’d just released. Ironically the same Mick Foley would help Grado end Drew’s ICW Title reign as he took up the role as commissioner for the night, but he has forever been one of Drew’s biggest advocates. The more you look at Drew’s tenure away from WWE the more it looks like a hugely impressive audition tape to be a main guy in WWE. Dealing with an insane amount of travel, making an impact in locations on all corners of the globe, and having a genuine will to study the game he was already better than most at to become one of the very best on the planet, which he undoubtedly is now. Suddenly there was an upside to being released that few had ever seen before. Sure working with WWE is the most secure job you can have as a full time pro wrestler, but there is so much more to the pro wrestling world than one massive company. There’s audiences all over the world looking for talent that makes them stand up and take notice. Drew didn’t take his release as the end of the journey, more of a diversion than was still leading him to where he wanted to be. Something that felt like it was destined for him from the moment he stepped in a wrestling ring. Becoming WWE Champion.

The Greatest Royal Rumble? 

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WWE Champion Brock Lesnar entered the 2020 Royal Rumble at number one, insisting that no one on the roster came close enough to be considered for a title shot on that show. He was booked for a shift anyway and when you’re on that rota, even if yer Brock Lesnar, you better haul your arse in tae work. Brock decided not to fuck about, and if there was to be no title match he’d just go ahead and win that big battle royal everyone goes on about. Perhaps earning himself a night off at Wrestlemania this year when he secured the main event spot against himself. If they insisted on having him compete that night he could pull Michael Cole up from the announce desk for a game of heiders while Brock vs Brock plays out to a time limit draw.

It was all going swimmingly for Brock as he produced a masterful display. Eliminating 14 competitors consecutively and selling absolutely everything all 14 of them were about. Elias had his sing song interrupted by pure unfiltered rage. John Morrison was launched all the way back to the Impact Zone. Keith Lee was given the respect he undoubtedly deserves as Brock looked in genuine awe at the sight of the big man, asking Paul Heyman “Who’s this motherfucker?!” in the first moment that had looked like anything approaching worry since the match kicked off. The heartwarming reunion with Shelton Benjamin made you genuinely believe Brock Lesnar actually has friends for a minute before he tossed him out. Kofi Kingston and Big E made you believe in magic for a minute but he was too smart for all of them. Even when Braun Strowman joined Keith Lee in the ring, they decided fighting each other was a better move than joining forces to get rid of Brock and they got what they deserved. Despite his amazing music that Brock bopped along to like a King of all the Da’s, MVP was never a threat. It all looked a bit too easy until Ricochet appeared.

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Ricochet’s role in launching Drew towards the biggest moment of his career cannot be understated. It was the perfect moment. Hurting from the embarrassment Brock had inflicted on him on RAW the previous week, Ricochet was in no mood to be dumped out quick and had Brock reeling before Brock overpowered him. Only this time he was out of time. The next guy was due in. No time to get Ricochet out before then, deal with him in a minute eh. When the next guy is 6 foot 5, built like a brick shithouse, and absolutely not fucking scared of you, it becomes a whole different ball game. Drew was not having it and if Brock had to be one of the men he took out to get to where he wanted to go, so be it. The assist from Ricochet was just an opening for Drew that he was always looking for anyway. A thunderous boot in the baws from Ricochet stunned Brock, and with him perched just a few yards from the ropes, Drew went for it. Like a predator catching a glimpse of the jugular of its prey, he swooped in in what felt like a millisecond and Claymored the beast over the top rope. 14 consecutive eliminations. Looking like he was going to make good on his promise to chuck all 29 other competitors out. All gone in an instant. All gone because a big guy from Ayr with a degree in seizing the fucking moment decided this was his time.

Here’s the thing about Brock. Brock’s incredible at this. He always has been. Disliking him for having enough name value to be a pro wrestler on his terms is cutting your baws off to spite your dick. Enjoy what he does rather than moaning about what he doesn’t do. He is absolutely capable of phoning it in and producing below par matches but even that stuff has more to interest you than most of what goes on in wrestling. His selling is better than most because he knows selling is about more than making offensive moves look good. Its in every single thing you do opposite an opponent. Getting wide eyed and giving it “A big boy!” when Keith Lee came out is selling the fuck out of Keith Lee’s attributes. Fly kicking John Morrison in the ribs is selling the fuck out of John Morrison deserving a kick to the ribs. Bopping along to MVPs tune is selling the fuck out of MVP having an absolute banger as his tune. Its all selling and his appearance was a masterclass in the art but none of it was more masterful than how he sold Drew eliminating him and that’s why they could potentially have one of the most hotly anticipated WWE Title matches in Wrestlemania history. You could have picked Paul Heyman’s jaw off the floor as he gazed at the big ride that had made short work of his client. Brock managed to tell a story all in facial expressions, as shock turned to anger, anger turned to grudging respect, and grudging respect quickly turned to a need for revenge. Brock Lesnar has had matches with months of build that didn’t feel as significant as this

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The reaction when Drew chucked Roman Reigns over the top to secure his place in history was such a heartening one. It wasn’t the roar of a crowd that was 100% with him and expected his victory from the start. It was a crowd who felt change in the air.

Despite an injury derailing his run as NXT Champion, Drew had done nothing but show the WWE top brass from the moment he was re-signed that he was ready for this. Taking on any and all media stuff the company asked him to do. Producing high quality matches in the ring, although at this point that part its probably the easiest bit for a guy who has wanted this since he was merely 6 foot tall 15 year old. Becoming a constant reminder to the roster that there’s no excuse for not giving this everything. No excuse for becoming complacent and picking up a wage for doing little or nothing. His promo work has been scathing since his return but so it should be. As much as the company is very capable of making questionable decisions at the end of the day its up to the performer to make or break their own career. If you have the audience with you, the opportunities will be there. What each individual does with those opportunities is on them. There’s no doubt Drew was given a big opportunity at Wrestlemania last year when he was put up against the companies golden boy Roman Reigns in his first big match since returning from beating cancer and Drew provided the villain Roman needed that night. He was defeated but just having that match was enough to at least give you the feeling they were considering giving the ball to Drew and the big man was more than ready to Claymore that ball right in to the top corner.

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RAW the next night told you all you need to know about how people feel about Drew being the man to face Brock at Wrestlemania. He got an ear bursting reaction as he emerged to address the crowd and let them know who he intended to face and wasted little time in telling everyone he is not afraid of Brock Lesnar. Respectful of him and wary of what he can do physically but there is not one bit of fear in the man who must feel the long road to becoming WWE Champion is nearing its end. As he looked to the heavens after his win, no doubt paying regard to his mum who always believed he’d get there and his old mate Lionheart who would have been so proud to see someone from the same wee town in Scotland as him fulfilling his dreams, you could tell he felt the hard work was finally getting him where he wanted to be. There’s only one thing left for the big man to do. Slay the beast. Become the main man WWE sorely need to lead the next generation. If there’s one thing Drew has proved beyond any reasonable doubt is if you are a wrestling company and you put your faith in him, good things happen.

 

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Dealing With Suicidal Thoughts

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About 4 months ago I made a decision for the wrong reasons. Mistiming my medication and taking two doses close together had led to some unpleasant side effects. Ultimately all it was was one uncomfortable day, but I resented having it at all and stubbornness got the better of me so I decided that day that I was done with anti-depressants. All they’d ever be to me was a sleeve of false promises and night sweats. A sleeve of taking a week and a half to ‘finish’. Side effects that induce more sadness than the huge amount you have to deal with on a daily basis anyway aren’t worth having I decided. So it was time to stop and time to figure out another way. At the time it felt right. Even my doctor bought my convincing speech about how ready I felt and was completely happy for me to go for it. It would be unpleasant initially then the reset button would have been hit and a clean slate existed. After about a year of uncertainty and discomfort. Not knowing if I’d ever made any headway with my mental health stuff ever again, I finally felt like I’d taken control. I was wrong.

Coming off Sertraline and deciding to throw myself head first in to being the best damn writer/retail employee the world had ever seen was never going to work. I done it at a time where neither of those things made me feel like I had worth so when the medication I was taking that helped with that stopped being a factor, my self worth plummeted. The doubts I had about my abilities as a writer and the chances I had of ever making it a full time career became overwhelming. It got to a point where I didn’t want to write at all. In fact, saying I didn’t ‘want’ to is inaccurate. I couldn’t. My brain would offer stiff resistance to any attempt I made and it got to a stage where even trying was such an exhausting prospect I just blocked it off completely.

Anti depressants aren’t addictive in the sense that if you stop taking them, your body doesn’t crave that substance. Instead there’s a period where you’re body I suppose re-adjusts to not having that wee top up of the chemicals your brain is missing. That for me lead to some horrendous stuff. Headaches, extreme light sensitivity, nausea, concentration problems and general erratic thought processes and feelings. Stopping taking them cold turkey may have been a reason it was all so intense but make no mistake about it, for a long long time I felt like utter shite. Worse than I did when I was on the medication. Yet I made the decision to sit tight and stick it out. Once it was finally gone then it was a fresh start. The clean slate I’ve always wanted since I was about 12-13 and I first remember really experiencing depression.

I remember quite clearly the first time I realised something might not be quite right. Having celebrated every Celtic goal I’d seen in the first 13 years of my life (well I can’t remember the first few but I’m sure as I baby I was whipping aff the nappy and swinging it above my tiny heid in celebration, shite fleeing everywhere) with reckless abandon, Celtic scored a late goal to win at Tannadice I believe. At that time I had Glandular Fever and had been bedbound for several weeks. I was just starting to feel a bit more physically normal but mentally I was a bit. I don’t know. Not myself. The goal went in and I felt….nothing. No emotion. Nothing but confusion existed. Why didn’t I care? When was the last time I really cared about anything? It stuck with me and maybe if I addressed it all back then rather than around 10-15 years later things might have been different.

The years rolled on and shite things happened. Things I wasn’t really old enough to understand or process correctly. I didn’t fully realise it then but it was all serving to break me down bit by bit. My ability to cope was non existent and slowly but surely I slipped into a very deep depression.

When I look back on it I struggle to recall of anything that I was really living for. Nothing mattered. The only thing I really wanted is to numb myself to the point that I could get through any given day without intensely hating myself for the duration for it. Even a few hours of relative calm usually induced by tanning a few vodkas represented something resembling a good day. When I really think about my life in my late teens-early 20s it surprises me that suicide wasn’t an issue really. I knew my life wasn’t happy. I knew it wasn’t sustainable. But I never had ‘suicidal thoughts’ and I never understood why. Not feeling suicidal was one of the reasons I never went to the doctors about my issues years ago because depression to me meant that suicide is very much an active concern. As long as I had a sports team to follow or a tv show to get into I had enough reason to keep breathing but truth be told, I wasn’t finding reasons to live, I was finding reasons to continue existing. It wasn’t a life.

When I started attending wrestling shows and eventually started writing things about them that was when the first real upturn in mental health happened for me as an adult. I began to feel ok about myself. Even pretty good at times. Things weren’t perfect but they were so much better. I was pursuing relationships. I was hopeful about the future. For years I had felt lost and like I had no place. I had no role on this earth.

Suddenly I found my voice and as cheesy as it sounds, it was liberating. To feel heard. To feel worthy of being heard. I went to a doctor about my mental health for the first time ever because for the first time ever I felt like I actually had something to lose. That it was vitally important to get help and get some defence mechanisms in place to deal with this shit if it gets bad again. I went on medication and after a few weeks I felt something. A shift. It provided enough calm for me to really tackle what made me think the way I do. Trying to get to the core reasons for me hating myself so sincerely. It really worked for a while. Medication plus 7 weeks of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) had me feeling better than I ever had as an adult. At the age of 25, for the first time ever I felt equipped to deal with whatever the world might throw at me.

Life continues to happen and it doesn’t really care about all the progress you’ve made. How proud you are of yourself for doing all those things you’ve been putting off. It doesn’t care if you’re waking up happy every day because of that new relationship or that new job or that new shirt you bought with all the exotic birds on it. Life will still throw stuff into the mix that threatens to fuck with all of that and maybe I just got a bit cocky. Maybe I was so convinced I had all the right defences to deal with whatever that I didn’t even fully realise when something was starting to break me down. My partner had to deal with something terrible and instead of recognising the effect the whole thing had on me, I ignored it. I put my own feelings in a wee box and volleyed it into the clyde.

A few years floated past and without fully realising I was back at my worst. My self confidence had slowly started slipping away and things that brought me nothing but joy became stressful. If I’m really honest with myself for the best past of the past 2 years I’ve been right back at my worst point except this time there was a wee difference. The overall feeling was very similar to how I’d felt for years before but this time there was a wee voice in my head urging me to end my own suffering. A wee voice that never speaks directly to you but serves to radiate this feeling of discomfort with your own existence.

At first I felt guilty about it. After all, years ago when I felt similarly bad, I had very little I could point to as reasons to keep going. Now I had a relationship with someone I love very much, a wee niece and nephew that need an uncle who regularly threatens to disown them if they don’t commit to supporting Celtic, and I also have this. It might not work out the way I want it to and that’s ok, but being a writer gave me that self worth I’d been missing for what felt like my whole life. It showed me I was good at something and more importantly, it made me really believe that was the case.

I was able to accept people’s praise and slowly but surely started to make an impression writing about pro wrestling. To me all of these things were reasons why I shouldn’t have any inkling about taking drastic action yet there I was. Every single day. Waiting for it to pop into my head. It wasn’t a question of if it was going to, it was simply a question of when. The voice grew stronger to the point that on my worst days, that’s all that was really on my mind. Rampant anxiety with lashings of ‘you should really just kill yourself big man…fuck this carry on’.

It never made sense to me so I tried ignoring it. I tried pretending it wasn’t there. I thought coming off the medication I was on at the time would serve as some kind of distraction and that would somehow lead to me snapping out of that way of thinking. To tell the truth I was desperate. I lined up a bunch of interviews as well. Maybe writing could save me. It had before after all. It was the only thing I could think of that made me feel good. Made me feel like I was making progress. None of that was the right thing but I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I wanted to die. It was my way of guarding against that feeling. Guarding against really experiencing it. It just didn’t make sense. Why was I quite content in this wee depressive bubble for so many years when I had fuck all, yet now I have lots of reasons to live my brain is telling me to give up and end it. Why now?

I knew it was time to talk. I needed help. After 3 spells of CBT I was finally referred for proper counselling sessions and after a couple of months of not feeling any improvement, I discussed the possibility of going medication again. As convinced as I was before that I was done with it, it was a much better option than the other thing. The other thing meant it would all be over forever and the idea of that consistently sent me into panic. The idea of my niece and nephew growing up without my infinite wisdom. The idea of my mum, dad and sister having to bury the very person that brightened up the joyless existence they were suffering through before I was born. The idea of Emma going to see marvel movies with another dude. A dude who probably talks a bit more than me but I’d imagine had some kinda breath issue. Nothing dealbreaking but every now and the you get a wee waft of something unpleasant and wonder to yourself if this dude has bee brushing his teeth with soor milk. I had to somehow chase those thoughts away.

Recently the guilt I’d been feeling about those thoughts has started to subside. I think I get it. A wee bit anyway. The more I ignored those thoughts, the stronger the voice got. The more I ignored it, the worse the guilt got. When I started facing it head on and started questioning it, that was when it eventually started to quieten slightly. It started to make sense to me why I didn’t think about suicide when I truly had nothing to live for (in my mind anyway) I didn’t want to die because I didn’t give a flying fuck about myself. I didn’t care that I was suffering.

As long as I wasn’t in physical pain, I’d come up with a way to cope with the mental suffering that at least meant I could continue existing. I could quietly live out the rest of my miserable existence, hopefully getting took out by some act of god to save anyone the bother of having to blame themselves for my miserable existence coming to an end. You have to have some kind of self worth to really consider suicide. There has to be some kind of self compassion there to want your own suffering to end. You have to give a fuck about yourself and that was the difference between back then and the way I feel now. Back then I hated myself so much I felt I deserved the suffering.

Now? I quite like myself sometimes. At least for a long time I did. Long enough that when I started to hate myself more and more, I still remembered what it was like to not feel that way. It felt wrong to feel so low as opposed to it just becoming normality. I began to realise thinking about suicide and the voice getting stronger the more I ignored it meant I had to speak about it. It was clearly the only way. I had to give it a voice so I could understand where that voice was coming from and why it was there in the first place. I wouldn’t say I’m out of the woods yet, but the voice has got quieter and the new medication I’m on seems to be settling in quite well. Low on side effects and day to day improvement. There is still a long, long way to go for me, but I believe if I continued to ignore these feelings that it would have at the very least led to some kind of attempt to make it stop.

We have all been touched by suicide in some way. Everyone in Scottish wrestling has had to deal with it head on in recent months after the tragic death of Adrian ‘Lionheart’ Mccallum. It is killing people every single day. Yet some still regard it as a selfish act. Some still regard it as a shameful way to die. Something to be covered up. The only thing that stops it being such a powerful, overbearing force is to normalise speaking about it. Normalise speaking about it as early as possible because no one commits suicide the first time they think about ending their own life. Its a voice that starts off as on occasional whisper and slowly develops into a screaming nightmare. All happening behind the eyes while you attempt to keep your exterior as normal as possible. No one can know. No one can ever know.

If you’re feeling suicidal or even just feeling particularly low, please speak to someone. Anyone. You deserve to feel better. You deserve to live happily.

Numbers to call if you feel the need

Breathing Space – 0800 83 85 87

Samaritans – 116 123

Dealing With Suicidal Thoughts

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About 4 months ago I made a decision for the wrong reasons. Mistiming my medication and taking two doses close together had led to some unpleasant side effects. Ultimately all it was was one uncomfortable day, but I resented having it at all and stubbornness got the better of me so I decided that day that I was done with anti-depressants. All they’d ever be to me was a sleeve of false promises and night sweats. A sleeve of taking a week and a half to ‘finish’. Side effects that induce more sadness than the huge amount you have to deal with on a daily basis anyway aren’t worth having I decided. So it was time to stop and time to figure out another way. At the time it felt right. Even my doctor bought my convincing speech about how ready I felt and was completely happy for me to go for it. It would be unpleasant initially then the reset button would have been hit and a clean slate existed. After about a year of uncertainty and discomfort. Not knowing if I’d ever made any headway with my mental health stuff ever again, I finally felt like I’d taken control. I was wrong.

Coming off Sertraline and deciding to throw myself head first in to being the best damn writer/retail employee the world had ever seen was never going to work. I done it at a time where neither of those things made me feel like I had worth so when the medication I was taking that helped with that stopped being a factor, my self worth plummeted. The doubts I had about my abilities as a writer and the chances I had of ever making it a full time career became overwhelming. It got to a point where I didn’t want to write at all. In fact, saying I didn’t ‘want’ to is inaccurate. I couldn’t. My brain would offer stiff resistance to any attempt I made and it got to a stage where even trying was such an exhausting prospect I just blocked it off completely.

Anti depressants aren’t addictive in the sense that if you stop taking them, your body doesn’t crave that substance. Instead there’s a period where you’re body I suppose re-adjusts to not having that wee top up of the chemicals your brain is missing. That for me lead to some horrendous stuff. Headaches, extreme light sensitivity, nausea, concentration problems and general erratic thought processes and feelings. Stopping taking them cold turkey may have been a reason it was all so intense but make no mistake about it, for a long long time I felt like utter shite. Worse than I did when I was on the medication. Yet I made the decision to sit tight and stick it out. Once it was finally gone then it was a fresh start. The clean slate I’ve always wanted since I was about 12-13 and I first remember really experiencing depression. I remember quite clearly the first time I realised something might not be quite right. Having celebrated every Celtic goal I’d seen in the first 13 years of my life (well I can’t remember the first few but I’m sure as I baby I was whipping aff the nappy and swinging it above my tiny heid in celebration, shite fleeing everywhere) with reckless abandon, Celtic scored a late goal to win at Tannadice I believe. At that time I had Glandular Fever and had been bedbound for several weeks. I was just starting to feel a bit more physically normal but mentally I was a bit. I don’t know. Not myself. The goal went in and I felt….nothing. No emotion. Nothing but confusion existed. Why didn’t I care? When was the last time I really cared about anything? It stuck with me and maybe if I addressed it all back then rather than around 10-15 years later things might have been different.

The years rolled on and shite things happened. Things I wasn’t really old enough to understand or process correctly. I didn’t fully realise it then but it was all serving to break me down bit by bit. My ability to cope was non existent and slowly but surely I slipped into a very deep depression. When I look back on it I struggle to recall of anything that I was really living for. Nothing mattered. The only thing I really wanted is to numb myself to the point that I could get through any given day without intensely hating myself for the duration for it. Even a few hours of relative calm usually induced by tanning a few vodkas represented something resembling a good day. When I really think about my life in my late teens-early 20s it surprises me that suicide wasn’t an issue really. I knew my life wasn’t happy. I knew it wasn’t sustainable. But I never had ‘suicidal thoughts’ and I never understood why. Not feeling suicidal was one of the reasons I never went to the doctors about my issues years ago because depression to me meant that suicide is very much an active concern. As long as I had a sports team to follow or a tv show to get into I had enough reason to keep breathing but truth be told, I wasn’t finding reasons to live, I was finding reasons to continue existing. It wasn’t a life.

When I started attending wrestling shows and eventually started writing things about them that was when the first real upturn in mental health happened for me as an adult. I began to feel ok about myself. Even pretty good at times. Things weren’t perfect but they were so much better. I was pursuing relationships. I was hopeful about the future. For years I had felt lost and like I had no place. I had no role on this earth. Suddenly I found my voice and as cheesy as it sounds, it was liberating. To feel heard. To feel worthy of being heard. I went to a doctor about my mental health for the first time ever because for the first time ever I felt like I actually had something to lose. That it was vitally important to get help and get some defence mechanisms in place to deal with this shit if it gets bad again. I went on medication and after a few weeks I felt something. A shift. It provided enough calm for me to really tackle what made me think the way I do. Trying to get to the core reasons for me hating myself so sincerely. It really worked for a while. Medication plus 7 weeks of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) had me feeling better than I ever had as an adult. At the age of 25, for the first time ever I felt equipped to deal with whatever the world might throw at me.

Life continues to happen and it doesn’t really care about all the progress you’ve made. How proud you are of yourself for doing all those things you’ve been putting off. It doesn’t care if you’re waking up happy every day because of that new relationship or that new job or that new shirt you bought with all the exotic birds on it. Life will still throw stuff into the mix that threatens to fuck with all of that and maybe I just got a bit cocky. Maybe I was so convinced I had all the right defences to deal with whatever that I didn’t even fully realise when something was starting to break me down. My partner had to deal with something terrible and instead of recognising the effect the whole thing had on me, I ignored it. I put my own feelings in a wee box and volleyed it into the clyde. A few years floated past and without fully realising I was back at my worst. My self confidence had slowly started slipping away and things that brought me nothing but joy became stressful. If I’m really honest with myself for the best past of the past 2 years I’ve been right back at my worst point except this time there was a wee difference. The overall feeling was very similar to how I’d felt for years before but this time there was a wee voice in my head urging me to end my own suffering. A wee voice that never speaks directly to you but serves to radiate this feeling of discomfort with your own existence.

At first I felt guilty about it. After all, years ago when I felt similarly bad, I had very little I could point to as reasons to keep going. Now I had a relationship with someone I love very much, a wee niece and nephew that need an uncle who regularly threatens to disown them if they don’t commit to supporting Celtic, and I also have this. It might not work out the way I want it to and that’s ok, but being a writer gave me that self worth I’d been missing for what felt like my whole life. It showed me I was good at something and more importantly, it made me really believe that was the case. I was able to accept people’s praise and slowly but surely started to make an impression writing about pro wrestling. To me all of these things were reasons why I shouldn’t have any inkling about taking drastic action yet there I was. Every single day. Waiting for it to pop into my head. It wasn’t a question of if it was going to, it was simply a question of when. The voice grew stronger to the point that on my worst days, that’s all that was really on my mind. Rampant anxiety with lashings of ‘you should really just kill yourself big man…fuck this carry on’.

It never made sense to me so I tried ignoring it. I tried pretending it wasn’t there. I thought coming off the medication I was on at the time would serve as some kind of distraction and that would somehow lead to me snapping out of that way of thinking. To tell the truth I was desperate. I lined up a bunch of interviews as well. Maybe writing could save me. It had before after all. It was the only thing I could think of that made me feel good. Made me feel like I was making progress. None of that was the right thing but I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I wanted to die. It was my way of guarding against that feeling. Guarding against really experiencing it. It just didn’t make sense. Why was I quite content in this wee depressive bubble for so many years when I had fuck all, yet now I have lots of reasons to live my brain is telling me to give up and end it. Why now?

I knew it was time to talk. I needed help. After 3 spells of CBT I was finally referred for proper counselling sessions and after a couple of months of not feeling any improvement, I discussed the possibility of going medication again. As convinced as I was before that I was done with it, it was a much better option than the other thing. The other thing meant it would all be over forever and the idea of that consistently sent me into panic. The idea of my niece and nephew growing up without my infinite wisdom. The idea of my mum, dad and sister having to bury the very person that brightened up the joyless existence they were suffering through before I was born. The idea of Emma going to see marvel movies with another dude. A dude who probably talks a bit more than me but I’d imagine had some kinda breath issue. Nothing dealbreaking but every now and the you get a wee waft of something unpleasant and wonder to yourself if this dude has bee brushing his teeth with soor milk. I had to somehow chase those thoughts away.

Recently the guilt I’d been feeling about those thoughts has started to subside. I think I get it. A wee bit anyway. The more I ignored those thoughts, the stronger the voice got. The more I ignored it, the worse the guilt got. When I started facing it head on and started questioning it, that was when it eventually started to quieten slightly. It started to make sense to me why I didn’t think about suicide when I truly had nothing to live for (in my mind anyway) I didn’t want to die because I didn’t give a flying fuck about myself. I didn’t care that I was suffering. As long as I wasn’t in physical pain, I’d come up with a way to cope with the mental suffering that at least meant I could continue existing. I could quietly live out the rest of my miserable existence, hopefully getting took out by some act of god to save anyone the bother of having to blame themselves for my miserable existence coming to an end. You have to have some kind of self worth to really consider suicide. There has to be some kind of self compassion there to want your own suffering to end. You have to give a fuck about yourself and that was the difference between back then and the way I feel now. Back then I hated myself so much I felt I deserved the suffering.

Now? I quite like myself sometimes. At least for a long time I did. Long enough that when I started to hate myself more and more, I still remembered what it was like to not feel that way. It felt wrong to feel so low as opposed to it just becoming normality. I began to realise thinking about suicide and the voice getting stronger the more I ignored it meant I had to speak about it. It was clearly the only way. I had to give it a voice so I could understand where that voice was coming from and why it was there in the first place. I wouldn’t say I’m out of the woods yet, but the voice has got quieter and the new medication I’m on seems to be settling in quite well. Low on side effects and day to day improvement. There is still a long, long way to go for me, but I believe if I continued to ignore these feelings that it would have at the very least led to some kind of attempt to make it stop.

We have all been touched by suicide in some way. Everyone in Scottish wrestling has had to deal with it head on in recent months after the tragic death of Adrian ‘Lionheart’ Mccallum. It is killing people every single day. Yet some still regard it as a selfish act. Some still regard it as a shameful way to die. Something to be covered up. The only thing that stops it being such a powerful, overbearing force is to normalise speaking about it. Normalise speaking about it as early as possible because no one commits suicide the first time they think about ending their own life. Its a voice that starts off as on occasional whisper and slowly develops into a screaming nightmare. All happening behind the eyes while you attempt to keep your exterior as normal as possible. No one can know. No one can ever know.

If you’re feeling suicidal or even just feeling particularly low, please speak to someone. Anyone. You deserve to feel better. You deserve to live happily.

Numbers to call if you feel the need

Breathing Space – 0800 83 85 87

Samaritans – 116 123

 

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.

lhhh.jpg
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.

A Tribute To Adrian “Lionheart” Mccallum

lionheartThis was going to be a long winded thing about mental health, but it didn’t feel right. There will be a time to talk more about that.

People have a huge void in their lives today. One that wasn’t there this time yesterday. Those people have each other and that will be of great comfort, but they don’t have him and ultimately, there will be no comfort for that.

It is so unbelievably tragic that a man who had so much left to give felt like this was his only option. Him no longer being with us shouldn’t make anyone feel ‘could I have done more?’ it will, but it shouldn’t. I hope anyone feeling that way can let go of that soon. Its not your fault, its not anyone’s fault. Its just the worst possible outcome of mental illness. The reason it is taken so seriously. It robs people of time they deserved.

Adrian Mccallum deserved more time. Not because he was a good guy (and he was) Not because he was talented wrestler (and he was) but because he was loved. He deserved to feel that. Even if its hard to feel it when you’re suffering mentally, one day the haze would have cleared, even if just for a moment, and he would have felt it. He would have realised he was cherished and appreciated and maybe the demons would have stayed away for a while.

People have spoken about the togetherness in the Scottish/British Wrestling community really being helpful in the immediate aftermath. Seeing the tributes across the board. People sharing in his memory together. People who barely knew him but were still touched by his presence. Then there are his friends. His family. The people who knew him well. They are the ones truly experiencing grief right now, even if it feels like the rest of us are right there with them, we aren’t. None of us can truly know how any of them are feeling. Yesterday their pal was here. There were memories still to be made. Laughs still to be had.

Today all that exists is painful longing. Heartache. Well its not all that exists. The memories already made. The right good ones. The life defining, friendship defining, relationship defining, career defining stoaters. In times of tragedy like this, that’s the one slight positive. In a world filled with shite. Filled with misery. All that good stuff comes to the forefront. People remember why they loved. What bonded them to the person they’re missing. For a moment they feel like he’s still here. The memories will ensure that in a way, he always is.

Keep posting the tributes. It will make people smile even if the smile is tinged with sadness. It will make those closest to him smile just like Adrian seemed to in pretty much every photo I’ve seen since this happened. He revelled in making others happy like many of the saddest people do. He revelled in it because he knew when they were laughing at his patter, a funny snapchat or anything else he might do to make someone smile, that they weren’t feeling as bad as he did at times.

Please reach out if you’re feeling off in the wake of this. This is not just some celebrity who’s work we appreciated from afar. He meant so much more than that to so many. I distinctly remember leaving the sit down interview we done on cloud fucking nine. At that time I had no idea why people of that standing would ever speak to me at all, far less for a couple of hours, but he shared stories, spoke with honesty, and made me feel like a superstar that day. He had a way of doing that it seemed.

Men have a way of pretending its fine when its not. A way of admitting to having a problem and only revealing a percentage of it. Never wanting to seem weak by admitting they suffer. Fuck weakness. Fuck this outdated idea that men should be men. Adrian Mccallum was far from weak. He persevered through so much personal tragedy. The loss of one of his closest pals in wrestling to cancer. The loss of a large chunk of career to injury. The loss of seemingly his purpose in wrestling. Yet the last time we saw him wrestle, he was adding another title to his collection. Triumphant in another main event. He overcame all that shit to reign supreme.

He went from “nothing for you mate” to ICW World Champion.

He went from having his neck broken by a move, to using that move as part of his redemption story.

He went from “fanny” to hero.

He went from Lionheart to “Mad Leon”

More importantly than all that, he was loved. To everyone feeling it a lot more than I am today, I am so fucking sorry for your loss. I’m sorry your pal, your brother, your mainest man. I’m sorry he’s no longer here. He might have deserved more time but with the stories, the photos and (in time) the matches being shared his memory will live on.

R.I.P Adrian ‘Lionheart’ Mccallum.

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If you are suffering from mental health issues and feel you need some help, please reach out to someone. Below are some phone numbers you can call/websites you can visit. Even if its not an option like this, speak to someone. 

https://www.brothersinarmsscotland.co.uk/about/

Home

SAMH: 0141 530 1000

Samaritans: 116 123

Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87

Turning Point: 0800 652 3757