My Story: Overcoming of a Storm

“Getting lost in the darkness while it’s staring back at you is something that stays with you. I am scared to enter the night with loneliness by my side. It takes my hand and leads me into an unfortunate familiar place. Many of my questions are left unknown. I find myself wandering blindly into the future. It’s hard to admit it, but I’m scared. Not knowing when and how severe the next attack is, is paralyzing in itself. Feeling the hope and light skip away time after time causes self destruction. One day it may never come back. I understand that sometimes words on a page is not going to make things better, but I must try. Feelings become a pawn in a game that already has you checkmated before you start. I am controlled by something other than myself. It’s difficult to endure it over and over again. I’m scared I’m going to be consumed by the darkness before hope can come back. I’m scared that one attack will be too much to handle.”

    Fresh cut grass and smooth raked dirt consisted of my home away from home. A baseball field was my temple and no one or nothing could take that away from me. As a small child, my father entered me in a wide range of sports. My life was quickly consumed by football, basketball, and baseball. My passion for baseball far exceeded the rest as the years went on. I discovered a valuable talent and instantly pursued it with all of my heart. Many memories I cherish derived from a sport I loved. At age 11 my club ball team won a tournament in Cooperstown out of 100 teams. By age 12 we were polled as the seventh team in the nation for our age group. Every competitive moment on the field was complimented by endless smiles off of the field. A family bond I will forever remember as long as I live.

    The emotional years of high school soon rolled around the corner and my baseball career made even bigger strides forward. My sophomore year I made the varsity team and soon found myself as a starting pitcher. Baseball continued to place me on a platform who promoted positive growth. My success on the field significantly promoted my social status off of the field. I took pride in anchoring my roots in humbleness. A delicate lesson preached by my highly idolized parents. After playoffs I was awarded most valuable pitcher at my team banquet and was honored to play in the high school all star game. A piece of metal with writing on it held little significance, but the pure joy radiating from my parents face gave me goosebumps. Endless words of praise washed over that night and carried me into the next season. 

     It was a beautiful preseason tournament day of my junior year. We were on our second game of a double header. I gave every pitch my elbow could offer, yet eagerly wanted to play the second one. I joking told my coach I wouldn't throw the ball as I ran to centerfield with a smile on my face. Later that inning a ball was hit on the ground right to me and I instantly took a backseat to my instincts. I charged the ball like I had done a thousand times before, and had my mind set on where I was throwing it. I simultaneously read the play and made appropriate adjustments mid throw. Fearful pain greeted me as soon as the play was over. I strained my UCL, and had to sit out the rest of the season just like that. I was able to hit, but I could not do what I loved the most. Massive waves of love and support flooded in from all angles. Little did I know, it takes the lows to truly appreciate the highs. 

    Nerves rode as my persistent companion as we entered my senior year. The absence of pitching all of last year infiltrated words of doubt. I relied on the work ethic and mentality my father bestowed upon me. I had the year I so desperately needed. When it was all said and done, I collected a handful of awards and accolades. I know my father still takes pride in his son being Nevada Review Journal player of the year. My father was the real 2014 Nevada player of the year, for my talents are a mere reflection of his work.

    After a year of hard work, the heat waves of summer came. One of the most blessed days appeared when I received a call from a devision 1 University in California. Every emotion erupted in my soul. The endless nights of “One more swing” and “One more pitch” had payed off. It was a phone call 13 years in the making. My parents and I went over all of my options and arrived at a conclusion. California is where I would play ball for the next four years. Support from close friends and family members continuously filled my ears until it was moving day. I had never been on my own before, but I knew I was in good hands. Every year spent playing since I was five had now paid off. It was one thing to talk about playing college ball, but now I was truly living the dream. 

    The fall had fell and spring had sprung.The repetitious patterns of practice soon turned into high intensity games. The eyes of thousands penetrating my comfort barrier while on the mound, will forever be apart of me.  Self made pressure boiled over as one bad outing turned into another. The chain of events spiraled downhill quicker than I could blink. Failure behind closed doors is tolerable, but repeatedly on an open stage is unbearable. The flame who fueled my soul since I was five was blown out suddenly and urgently. Self confidence ran with the wind and self love packed its bags too. I was soon a hallow shell simply going through the motions. Months felt like years, with each hour slowly distancing my mind from my soul.

    The season came to an end and I drove back home with my parents. The overwhelming joy of being home established an illusionary comfort for months to come. I was back within my comfort zone in the city I loved. Just as fast as the temporary happiness came, it faded into something much worse. First it came in persistent and daunting nightmares of the hopelessness I so desperately wanted to leave behind. Night after night the memories inflicted its harm. The clouds darkened and the shade of midnight never seemed to have passed. A hyper focused feeing of constantly being watched while in public followed me with every step. Judgement dulled the lifestyle I lived and prevented me from expressing my old personality. The days grew colder and the concept of socializing was locked away behind closed doors. Places and people I once loved visiting were nothing but a distant memory.

    Between the constant state of being on edge and the anxiety attacks who lasted hours on end, my self talk grew dark and negative. This is when depressive episodes made their appearance. I thought of it as anxiety induced depression. I was constantly battling for my sanity throughout this storm. Sleep was not even an option with most nights ranging from four to five hours. There was no one to reach out to and I was certainly not going to receive help I blatantly needed. A mental block of being labeled froze my bones and made me retreat from deep within.

    Through this all, I did my best to act like nothing was wrong. I did a pretty decent job at hiding it, but one too many cancelled plans rose serious suspicion. It wasn’t until the last few months when everything completely fell apart. I dropped all communication with everyone except for a few people. One of them played a role I could have never predicted. Her name is Keegan and she is the pivotal point of my story. Her soul consists of nothing less than miracles and blessings. In two months of talking to her, she shined light on two and half years of darkness by rekindling a lost flame only her presence could spark. Her personality was the perfect cure specifically molded for me.

    August 25th, 2016. The best worst day of my life. After a devastating attack, she expressed an extraordinary amount of passion to convince me to seek help. I had my back against the wall and nowhere else to run. I complied and a week later I made my way to a psychiatrist. That marked day one of an uphill battle of receiving my life back. 

    As of a few days ago marked 6 months and I no longer have to take medication.  It took a great loss to gain an undoubtable appreciation. No words can express how much she means to me and what she did for me. Nightmares do not haunt me and anxiety/depression episodes no longer suffocate me. Colors radiate in a different light and emotions of freedom flow throughout my veins. I thrive in public and enjoy socializing. Through it all I have gained two gifts I hold very close to my heart. An improved life along with a motivational and gorgeous girlfriend by my side. Three years of attacks, six months of medication and therapy, and over 130 writings, I can finally say I live a life I love. The transformation is found within the writing. 

“Dear past self,

    Did it ever occur to you that I would stand on my own two feet from the support of self love? Blessings sculpt the words I share, for you made it possible. The thoughts I couldn't construct in times of darkness are now my reality. Just in arm lengths ahead. I remember the tears forming from a blinded future. Here I say with respect, mercy has reigned over and blessed me with a new pair of eyes. Lost time is now gained by smiles and future plans. Plans consisting of emotions I can relate to. This is a message of faith, for hope has been replaced by the joy of the finest hours. Sorrow forms raining eyes because of what you endured. May you never be forgotten but put to rest. Once a playground for personal demons, is now a natural park full of life. A transformation just beyond your imaginative grasp. The letters you signed with shaking hands will flourish with those of similar features. A prison sentence wrongly casted upon you is now seen as an aid for humanity. I realize the pen holds all healing. My heart aches for every purified moment you've missed out on. Three years is a long time and I still tend to follow some of your ways. Most importantly, I want to say I love you with all of my heart. Forgiveness floods in corners I would dare not visit. The daggers of doubt has healed into scars of courage. Desperate nights of begging, are now spent dreaming. The race going backwards developed into milestones of victory. I pray you forgive me for putting you through the storm alone. But believe me when I say I have found my way. Through you and loved ones. Thank you for creating strength in areas where weaknesses are exposed. The path of progress is a promising one indeed. For all of this I say, I have found my way. 

                Love always,
                        Improved self”

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