A journal entry from Brenna Calvert
As I sit here writing this, I struggle. “Struggle with what?” you're thinking. Here's what…
I am not shy about it, and some of you may already know that I suffer from and battle depression and anxiety. For me this is something that is hereditary, diagnosed, and yes I have a mental illness. You know what else I have? I have the strength and the support system to battle and overcome. I do not write this with the intent to seek your sympathy. I write this simply to let you know a bit more about me and hopefully to connect to at least one of you and help you through a rough time.
Depression comes in many forms and is brought on by many things. It is different for everyone. I can tell you that mine comes randomly, can be brought on by certain things, seasonally, or be nowhere at all for any amount of time. It affects my work, my sleep, my eating habits, my training, and all of my relationships. There are times when the depression is just barely there and maybe I slack on my training for a week or 2. Then there are times when I can't even get out of bed for days at a time and call in to work and don't leave the house, or I eat an entire bag of candy and box of cookies before I go to bed. I feel down, alone, unmotivated, and no one understands. No one gets it because I'm Brenna ‘Red Beast’ Calvert and I'm a strong competitor, I train hard, I work , and I'm one of the friendliest happiest faces on the course and at the event. How can I battle such demons?
Here's where I hope to connect to one of you battling depression or just hope to shed some light to those that might not understand mental illnesses. I work 2 restaurant jobs over 40 hours Monday through Friday, work 2 OCR jobs, train about 10 hours a week, am a full time athlete, find time for a distance relationship, and all while maintaining a house and 4 dogs. So with daily life throw in depression and the anxiety I haven't even touched on. Geez…. I'm late submitting this article because of that anxiety. For whatever reason, anything that has to do with getting on my computer and doing I procrastinate and put off. Phone calls too. Why? I have no idea, but it makes me very anxious. My to-do list grows and I get more and more anxious but continue to struggle to force myself to do it. I tell myself it'll be fast, just do it and feel better after and here I am a week late finally submitting things. Add in the week of race anxiety…. Not just race day, the WEEK before. Packing is a chore, leaving the house is a pain, getting on the road makes me anxious (yes, even with all the trips I've made), and don't even get me started on if I have to fly. Let me remind you though that regardless of everything mentioned above, I still manage to find myself on the podium occasionally, I love my jobs and what I get to do, and I am in a very happy and healthy relationship.
Here is my trick and secret. Obviously it might not work for you, but again this is about me. I do not take medications, I tried and the side effects were awful. The way I survive and continue on and overcome is by being open and aware. I talk about my illness and let people know that I suffer from depression. It doesn't do any good to hide it or lie about it. I am upfront with my coach and my dietician and my teammates. I lean on them for support and to help me stay on track or to understand when I just need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. I have learned to listen to my heart, head, and body. After years of dealing with this I now know the signs and what to look for and what to expect. I fall off the horse often but continue to get backup and keep going and keep loving what I do.
Being fit and active and living a healthy lifestyle has kept me involved in the sport and community that I love so much. It has been my rock and strength for many years now. When I am done competing my goal is to still be a part of this sport and community one way or another. I hope you find something you love and want to be a part of your happiness.
I am Brenna. I suffer from depression and anxiety; but believe it or not, I'm still one of the happiest people you'll meet. Please reach out to me for anything!
-Brenna "Red Beast" Calvert