In order to stave off some Turkey day guilt eight men came out for a pre-Thanksgiving/Birthday #F3MentalBattle workout. YHC has a history of mental illness and shared his personal experiences during COT and below.
Mosey to the OG AO at the corner by the new lights sculpture for Warm-o-rama:
SSH x 32 IC (YHC turns 32 tomorrow)
Hillbillies x 16 IC
Plank Jacks x 16 IC
Mosey to swings on West Ave. for DORA
100 Squerkins (Squat with merkin with your feet on the swing and arms on the ground in a plank position)
300 Big Boy Step-ups
1 partner performs exercise while the other runs either to the round about or the pavilion.
I was reminded of the lyrics of a song: “it looked pretty good on paper, but come to find out later that she’s insane.” Squerkins are always a test in coordination and 100 was a much greater test in strength and endurance than I imagined. While there were low walls elsewhere, YHC committed the pax to step ups on the high walls by the swings. Some modified to the stage for a slightly lower challenge. As YHC said to Grandmaster on the Mosey back I’d already announced the workout plan so there was no going back after that.
Mosey back to the AO for Mary
Pretzel Crunch x 15 IC (each side)
Crunchy Frog x 15 IC
YHC was not planning on doing the Crunchy Frogs after realizing I’d pushed the envelope on the exercises and wanted to leave more time for the COT but when Steel Cannon said that he only came for the Crunchy Frogs I didn’t want to disappoint my audience.
Prayers for Fire Chicken’s Uncle and family as his health continues to decline as well as Grandmaster’s Grandmother and family as she is on Oxygen and now basically confined to the bed.
- Hillbilly run and tabata followed by meal tomorrow at 6AM (70 Bridlewood Pl NE)
- Lake Norman Black Friday Convergence – THIS FRIDAY
- Next HDHH: December 4th
- Next QSource: December 14th
- Operation Sweet Tooth 2019: Church of God Orphanage – December 18 – Pre-Blast
- Save the date: 2020 Gremlin – January 18, 2020 – Pre-Blast Information
- Don’t forget your AO’s 2nd and 3rd F events – Happy Hours and Coffeeterias
COT (Cobains – brevity is not my strong suit):
I’ve been diagnosed with and dealing with depression and anxiety since Dec. 2016. While the emergence of the disease was precipitated by my ex-wife and I separating, the seeds for it had been planted long ago. Growing up I tried to be as perfectionist and people pleasing as I could. I only took on challenges I knew I could immediately excel at and pushed myself to unhealthy standards. My mom told me a story about when I was in Kindergarten and had been given homework to practice writing A’s on those lined pieces of paper. It was only for practice so all I had to do was fill one line of the paper with my first attempts at the letters. But all around me were crumbled balls of paper which when my mom asked me about them, were unacceptable because not all the letters were perfect. I knew this lifestyle was unhealthy to an extent but it also had a lot of benefits especially academically. But it also instilled in me a mindset, belief and identity of earning praise and love through my actions. This permeated even to the level of my faith and how I viewed God and try to earn the grace he freely gives me. Fast forward and I was finally faced with someone I was utterly failing at. My marriage was crumbling and I was powerless to fix it and couldn’t earn my wife’s love. This was my breaking point. I had a psychiatrist who was hilariously direct look at me and say that my life was unsustainable which it proved to be.
During 2017 I began being late to work not even wanting to get out of the bed or even exist or see or talk to anyone. I once told a friend that if someone gave me a button to just disappear and not exist anymore I’d slam it so quickly. Suicidal thoughts began finally culminating in the worst week of my life when I didn’t go into work for an entire week despite it being a very busy time. I didn’t work from home didn’t communicate at all just hid. I finally checked myself into the hospital and went to a mental hospital (Highway 73 in Huntersville across from the park). I spent a week there meeting with psychiatrists and therapists. One of my strongest memories is having to put on scrubs and turn over all my clothes. They eventually gave them back including my shoes albeit without shoelaces. I took 2 months off of work and attended an outpatient therapy program. Gradually things began improving somewhat. My psychiatrist and I had been able to stabilize and find medication that really helped me.
I joined F3 in August 2014 but when I’d moved to China Grove in October 2015 I stopped posting. As my life got worst it became harder and harder to reach out and easier and easier to isolate. Finally in January 2018 The Farm met for lunch and EHed me again. I knew he was just checking in but knew the topic of F3 would come up. I’d been to the Kannon AO kick off in August and had moved even closer to the AO since then. It was a Tuesday and I knew they worked out on Wednesdays I also knew that Steel Cannon lived in the apartment complex I’d moved into, which I still believe was not a cosmic coincidence. Before I left work The Farm already had me on Slack and had reached out to Steel Cannon who told me he’d be at his truck right outside my apartment at 5:15 in the cold gloom. It sucked. It sucked coming back and knowing where I had been fitness wise and where I was now. Anyone of the guys will tell you just how much merlot I spilled, they still don’t understand how I didn’t get that name.
But F3 was exactly what I needed. While it’s not easy to get up early, work out, and open up to others and sometimes even to be social and be around others it is the best antidepressant I know of. Every single doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, etc. I’ve spoken with has recommended fitness of all kinds and social interaction above all other activities. Combine that with the 3rd F and you have the ingredients you need to accelerate and get out of the pit. I highly encourage anyone who knows of a guy who’s not in F3 and drifting toward isolation to drag him out. Lower the barriers to entry like The Farm and Steel Cannon did for me. I only had to change and be at the truck, I was given a wake up call/text, a ride and the perfect amount of encouragement and force to overcome everything I was dealing with. This period of isolation is when you need F3 the most but also when it’s the hardest to make yourself go. But it’s vital. I know of at least two former pax who’ve taken their own lives after falling away from F3 and deep into their own mental battles and it absolutely breaks my heart. As the #F3MentalBattle logo states: “No OYO” (on your own) “Lock shields with me, Brother. Hold the line.”
It’s not over or perfect though. I’ve continued to relapse and make changes to my medications and still see a therapist weekly which I highly recommend to anyone regardless of mental health diagnosis. It’s a constant daily moment by moment fight for me. Someone in the hospital described it as having a 300 lb gorilla on your chest. There are mornings the bed seems like the only safe place. I don’t want to workout, see anyone else, change clothes, drive, or go into work. After isolating for several weeks, on the morning when I was finally going back to a workout I was having an internal fight. I reasoned that it would be exhausting mentally and emotionally to have to be fake and pretend like I was okay when the guys asked how I was doing and equally demanding to be honest and let them know I was struggling so it would just be a lot easier to keep avoiding them. I can remember another day recently when I skipped a race in the morning. I had picked up the bib beforehand and was all ready but the morning of the race I just couldn’t make myself do it. I was able to make it to a Miracle League baseball game and help out for 2 innings and spend time with some amazing kids and pax. While I felt great there and had a great time I raced home to collapse and sleep because it’d wiped me out having to be that social for just that short time. And that’s the other thing, often times it seems easier to just hide it. So through a combination of fake it till you make it and not wanting to drag others down I’m able to go through the motions some days and hide what I’m really dealing with. I still struggle to want to be perfect even sharing this morning and writing this backblast tonight have challenged me and led me to want to back down from my commitments and openness.
What helps me the most is when guys reach out. So many of friends within F3 are there for me. In particular The Farm, Fire Chicken, Backdraft, Steel Cannon, Pharaoh, 4-Wide, Othello (for the worst BRR leg trade ever) ,even Tape Worm an F3er from Columbia I met at a race and so many others keep tabs on me and check in when I start slipping and it means the world to me. You guys help keep me alive. Hearing that the pax is asking about me when I’ve been missing is huge. I might not say it at the time but it’s an immense part of breaking down my wall of isolation. Grandmaster is one who I owe a huge debt of gratitude to. I’ve been able to open up to him a lot about my struggles and he keeps tabs on me. He notices when I start posting infrequently, go quiet on Slack, stop responding to texts and calls, and when the workouts and runs on Strava stop. I’ve ghosted him worse and more times than people do on dating apps. I wish I knew what to tell friends to say, there’s days where just asking me how I’m really doing or if I’m on my medication is what I need. Sometimes just saying you’ve missed me is the encouragement I need. Sometimes getting a beer and hanging out talking about anything but how I’m doing is what I want the most. And there are a lot of times I need a threat to be at a workout and wake up call or text or series of them. And maybe even as Backdraft suggested a physical intervention and kidnapping.
So thank you. To everyone of you I’ve met and ones I haven’t. The ones who’ve paved the way and helped launch F3 into what it is today and continue to expand it to reach the sad clowns especially those with mental illnesses who need this the most. In complete seriousness you have all saved my life in a very literal sense. Continue to reach out to other men and anyone in your lives like the HIM we know we are. My phone number is in Slack if you or anyone you know ever wants to talk anytime at all.