No one thinks about depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues when they are not experiencing them. I never knew what it truly was until I went through it. For some, it may build up over time but for others, it could instantly have an impact as a result of the loss of a family member or just a dramatic change in life. Mental health should be just as important as your physical health. Many people go through mental health issues and are just too scared to say anything. If this applies to you, well I have been in the same shoes as you. Like others, we all put on that fake face and survived the day. I am going to personally open up about my battle with depression, in hopes that it may motivate someone to seek help or come out and talk about it. If you have experienced depression in the past or are currently going through it, I hope you know you are not alone. There is someone out there who can help you. To this very day, I am still battling with depression, but with the help of the founders, and participants of Honest Athletes, I will open up and share my story.
My senior year of high school started with the question, will I even get to play the sport I love during my last high school season? Across the state, high schools pushed for fall sports during a pandemic, and when the decision was finally made, nothing but smiles spread through the state of Kentucky.
Before I knew it, it was September 11, 2020, which was the date of our first game of the season against our cross-county rivals. Getting on the field again was the most excited I have ever been. On the first defensive drive of the game, I broke my hand. As soon as it happened, I knew something was seriously wrong, but I hid it as long as possible. “I played through the pain,” as the average middle-aged man would say.
Before I knew it, my hand was the size of a softball, and I eventually had my helmet taken by my trainer before the second half of the game. I did not know what was next for me. I felt like I had let my team and even my family down. I was devastated by the news of the doctor telling me my hand was broken but had no clue that my hand being broken was just the beginning.
That following Monday, I decided to watch our JV football game. I was talking to my cousin Stacy who when it came to anything, was my biggest supporter. She was telling me how heartbroken she was for me when she found out I broke my hand. We talked for a while, and little did I know that would be the last time I would ever get to talk to her. On September 17, 2020, Stacy passed away. It was the most heartbreaking news not only for me, but for my family, football team, and the entire community of Grayson. Some would say Stacy was the most loved person in Grayson. She was the sweetest human being ever and losing her took a piece of my soul.
STATE OF CONFUSION
I was lost, confused, and in shock after the week I had. The first doctor I went to told me that I had no chance of playing this year. Hearing that made me upset. It felt like all the hard work to get to where I was seemed pointless. I did not want to settle for the first news I heard, so I set out to Marshall Sports Medicine to see if they could give me better news. Well, instead of hearing I was out for the season and needed to have surgery, I heard that I could be back playing in 2-3 weeks with a club. Sure I would not be 100 percent, but at least I could make a difference and so I got a club made for my hand. After the devastating week, I was getting ready to sit out for the first game of my 13-year football career. All I could think about was how much I let people down, I just wanted to be on the field. The team was playing in Stacy’s memory, and I was on the sideline and at a loss. I remember going home that night and breaking down in my car. I have never been one to show much emotion and I guess that’s just the mentality that I had all my life. That night I broke down was the first real sign that I was not myself anymore, but I refused to make it known to anyone that I was going through something.
THE FAKE FACE
Time went by, and I got to the point where it took a lot for me to get motivated. I struggled to even get out of bed in the mornings. I was just so down all the time, and I had no clue what I was experiencing. My mom started a new job at a local school, and my dad worked construction, so I got away with not being myself in the mornings. Though, as soon as I went around someone, there was a flip that would switch inside of me to just look, and seem happy. No one knew what I was going through, not even the people closest to me. I would hide it from everyone because I was honestly embarrassed by what I was going through. I was afraid to talk to anyone because I already felt like a disappointment. I just pretended to be okay and refused to bring it up to anyone. I was different when I was alone compared to when I was with people. I know so many people that would have loved to help me, but I was scared of what they would think of me, scared if they would tell someone, scared they would abuse me knowing that information. If you were to ask someone about me, they would most likely tell you that I was the most energetic person they ever met, or that I always had a smile on my face. To be honest, that was not true but it seemed that way even when I was going through this.
I had no clue that I went through depression during that time and it took a lot for me to realize that I was depressed. I would always tell myself that someone has it worse, which was not a great idea. I realized that everyone’s struggles are different, and taking care of yourself is important. Depression is nothing to take lightly. I have spent many nights in tears, asking myself “why am I like this?” I have spent full days not leaving my room and staying to myself. Everything seems so tough, but I know I will win this battle with depression, and I hope anyone reading this right now, wins their battle.
The best advice I can give to someone who is going through a battle with depression is to think of it as a rollercoaster. You may feel like everything is going downhill right now, but just like a rollercoaster, your momentum is going to bring you right back up! I hope and pray that if you are struggling, you seek help.
I am Noah Marshall, and I struggle with Depression.