Victim of Your Own Mind
Your mind is a puzzle, figure it out and make it fun.
This is my story of how I was a victim of my own mind.
It began when I was 14, confidence through the roof, I had just lost a lot of weight, I had played representative football for my league and had been invited to a Calder Cannons development program. Everything was up for me and my dreams of becoming an AFL footballer and achieving internal success was nearing. In the last game of the home and away season for my local club, I had been playing with an extreme stitch that just wouldn’t go away. It was weird. Normally I would push through it and it would disappear but that wasn’t the case. I had taken a few bumps that game and it seemed to get worse. Within the next few weeks I had an appointment with my local GP and had undertaken some blood tests and examinations. I had been feeling low on energy, constantly drowsy and a bit down on confidence because I simply was feeling different. It turns out I had Glandular Fever and my spleen was swollen (hence the stitch like feeling) and I was told that if my spleen was knocked it could have exploded and I would have gotten internal bleeding and died. I am surprised that didn’t happen as I took quite a few knocks that game but luckily was on the opposite side of the spleen. Not too long after all of this my glands had swollen to severe levels on my throat and I was struggling to breathe. I let my parents know and we went to the local hospital in which they were no help. So we had to rush to the Northern as my throat was getting worse by the minute and my breathing capabilities lessening. They were fortunately able to help the swelling and I was back to normal although I had to stay 2 nights in hospital for monitoring purposes. That’s when I decided to get into weights so I could fast track my progress back to being fit and strong for footy.
Fast track another 8 months, I hadn’t been allowed to do any physical activity for 2-3 months, I missed out on a term of school and then when it was time to go back, I was only allowed to go 3 out of 5 days a week for a short period of time as my spleen was still swollen and it wasn’t worth the risk of dying. I had been weight training over the summer holidays at the end of year and I was training for 3 hours, 3 times a week. It consisted of a 800m jog for warm up and then a full body weights routine consisting of only free weights and then another 800m jog for cool down. I had lost more weight and got my fitness back. Then it was time to go back to School. I had stopped training because there was simply no time with School, homework, friends, family and sport. That is where I went down hill. I hadn’t had much training for Calder tryouts, I was only just getting back into basketball so I had little to no direct football training as it was now March 2014. I had tryouts for Calder which I believed I did well but from then on I lost the love for football. I wasn’t enjoying footy like I used to, I tanked interleague training, I quit my local footy team and I lost all confidence in myself, I found no purpose, no drive to do it. I lost the passion for the one thing that gave me joy. One of the side effects of glandular fever is depression, I had the more severe end of glandular fever so I got the more severe ends of the side effects. This is when I started to become a victim of my own mind.
I realised another hobby that I had recently been doing I could turn into a new joy and fulfilment and that was weight training. I was going 3 days a week and loving it and I wanted to get massive. I did research and started to apply it. I was trying all types of new training methods and styles and I was loving it. One day I read that diet was everything and you need to eat calories to get big and it really emphasised CALORIES, so I made sure I ate a LOT of food. After a workout, no matter how little or hard I worked I absolutely binged when I got home after a session. It became a poor habit, as long as I felt sore I would eat because I simply thought calories = recovery and recovery = muscle gain. This is where things took a turn for the worse. I started off between 60 – 64kg. Now it’s 2015, for the first year since starting in 2014, I had gained about 10 -15kg. I was getting fatter. I put pressure on myself to get bigger, I put pressure on myself to get leaner, I put even more pressure on myself to eat more and improve my diet. I set a trap for myself. I wasn’t getting where I wanted to go, I wasn’t reaching my goals and I was punishing myself for it. I lost all confidence, I became frustrated, disappointed, I was sorry for myself and most of all I made myself a victim. I thought I was the victim, I had bad genetics, I had no money to eat good, I didn’t have the best gym available, I made excuses and it made things worse. My depression worsened. Nothing was working out for me. I wanted it to end. I grabbed a blade from one of my razors and broke it off, I started to cut myself aiming for the vein on my wrist hoping one cut would end it all. But I stop after digging the razor in and remove it after insertion. Tears flowing down my face. I was lost. I didn’t know what I was doing. I lost all hope but I knew I couldn’t kill myself. I couldn’t do that to my family, my friends.
Fast forward a month of so. In class I was struggling to focus, I would every now and then throughout the day get these intervals of extreme heart beating at a fast pace and dizziness. So I went and saw my local GP with Mum. It turns out I had anxiety and depression, that’s when I uncovered the untold for the first time to both my GP and Mum. That I had tried to kill myself. We were both crying. Both lost as to how it came to this. I am a part of a great family and a great upbringing, I didn’t know how it had came to this. I needed help, so I was referred onto the great man Dr. Ian Bell, a psychologist in my home town of Kilmore. He helped myself a lot but I also learnt how to say things and pass the sessions so it seemed like I was progressing so I didn’t need to do anymore and take medication. That didn’t help my progress at all. I just kept getting worse, no confidence, unhappy, suicidal thoughts but I got better at fronting like I was happy and then when I went to bed at night all I could think about was why am I still alive? What is the purpose? Why am I here?
I started a Facebook page, something along the lines of my bodybuilding journey. It was to make me accountable, to keep me going. Once I made that page, I didn’t quit once. I had quit the gym and taken many breaks before that because I was unhappy. I didn’t take a single break from the gym since starting that page. It was a major turn to improving my well being. It was the best decision I had ever made despite the criticism and bullying I received. It made me stronger mentally.
Fast forward to now, to this current day. I have learnt many things. I am the strongest mentally I have ever been, I am the happiest I have ever been. The point of why I am writing this all is not to blab on about myself and to create a surrounding attention to myself. It’s to teach people a lesson who have or are going through the same thing, it’s for the people who bully others or bag others out despite knowing anything about them or what they are going through, if you are struggling to get to the gym or getting active and trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
The lessons I learned
Your mind is your biggest victim yet it’s the biggest tool to success. I will teach you what I did to break down as to why I was unhappy, sorry for myself, 0% confidence and disappointed. My core problem was body image issues. With all of the people on social media, magazines, TV shows, movies, they all have perfect bodies and you do what they say to do to get there and it doesn’t work.
The 1st thing, be realistic with yourself. Why is this an issue? What are you doing to fix it? Don’t tell yourself well I’m doing this and this and it’s not working. Why isn’t it working? Be harsh yet realistic and be open to the facts, don’t let them consume you and put you down, use them to be better. So it’s not working, why isn’t it working? That takes you back to the question, are you doing what it takes to fix it? And really emphasise that question, are you doing what it takes to fix the issue? Remember, nothing happens overnight, you don’t wake up overnight and you’re shredded, you don’t wake up overnight and you are full of muscle, or have millions of dollars in your bank account, a new Ferrari in your garage nor do you wake up and you are suddenly happy with every problem gone away. No, that’s now how it works. It’s a process. Plan it out and enjoy it. Sure, there will be changes along the way with bumps on the road and mountains to climb but that is a part of it. So now you have found the issue. Make goals, short term and long term, go and write them down now. It could be daily goals, weekly, monthly, even hourly god damn it. Just write goals down and then figure out a plan to reach those goals and that is just the very beginning of the process.
The 2nd thing, before you begin the process, you have to learn to love yourself and be happy with whatever state you are currently in. If you don’t have the amazing car, house, body, boyfriend/girlfriend, bank account, lifestyle etc. If you don’t have that yet, love what you have, no life is better than yours. Learn to love yourself and love you life. Once you do that, the process to being a better you will become easier.
The 3rd thing, embrace all of the challenges along the way because there will be a lot. Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you have a hiccup along the way that is okay. It’s a part of the journey to becoming a better you. If there is an obstacle along the way, don’t stress. You will find a way around, there is always a way. Back to the old cliché saying ‘if there’s a will, there’s a way’. Very cliché but it is true! If you are struggling, don’t make excuses, don’t make yourself the victim, it is hard to hear but it is true! Don’t say you don’t have time, you have poor genetics, shit this, shit that. Stop making excuses, you may not be able to do something the way you are trying or someone else is trying or doing, but there is always a way for you to make it work!
The 4th thing, this is something you will find yourself coming back to every day, positive thoughts. Just learn to be happy, no matter what is happening whether you burnt your dinner, your cat or dog died, you failed an exam/test, people put you down, you have an argument with someone close to you, whatever it is, accept what has happened. Accept the situation and move on. Don’t let something put you down because if you do, that problem has won you over. At the same time, if your cat/dog has died it’s okay to grieve, it’s okay to feel sad, that’s a process too but don’t let it become an extended issue. Learn to get through things correctly before you make them an issue bigger than what they are. It is okay to feel and it is okay to talk about it. Get yourself into a routine that allows you to start off the day in positive thoughts, so I like to start off my day with a happy feeling by watching my favourite youtubers because they are inspiring to me, I also then have a breakfast I enjoy and then sit down, relax and drink my coffee while I enjoy my favourite shows on Netflix. This allows me to start my day in a happy manner, I am starting the day off well. I also have a whiteboard in my room with an inspiring quote so as soon as I walk in, I read that quote and it reminds me as to why I keep pushing forward and keep striving to be better. You have to learn to be goal driven, it has to come from inside of you, all of the outside stuff like quotes, motivational videos, heroes etc. They are all temporary motivational boosters. To keep yourself positive and motivated every day, you have constantly remind yourself of your goal, enjoy what you do and simply be happy. Don’t let anyone bring you down.
Lastly, all of this equals to a mindset. A mindset is built. You need to build a mindset that allows you to be real with yourself and others but also gives you the sensation of believing you are invincible. Like nothing can beat you, even when you are at the bottom of the ocean you feel you are on top of the world.
I will summarise the points up for you.
- Figure out your issue, be real with yourself. What is the issue and really ask yourself are you doing what needs to be done to fix it? Make goals and an action plan to reach them, both short and long term.
- Learn to love yourself and your life. No such thing as a life that’s better than yours. Lastly, enjoy the process.
- Embrace every challenge that comes your way and if you have a hiccup, that’s okay. Move on and keep doing your best and it will all fall into place.
- Positive thoughts. No matter your situation or issue, have positive thoughts. Positive thoughts will keep you going through the darkest times, keep them coming no matter what. Embrace the situation, if it’s a dark time, it’s okay, you are allowed to feel but don’t let it eat you apart.
- Learn to develop a mindset that helps you become the best version of yourself.
What my goal and mission is to yes, help people get into shape but also help people build their mental strength because your mind is so powerful it can be the difference between quitting and winning. The difference between failing to reach your dreams and going far above your dreams.
I hope you enjoyed the read, it was longer than I anticipated but I hope you enjoyed it and you were able to gain something out it.
I may have more coming.
Thank you, Thomas.
Have you ever been effected by mental illnesses?
© 2017 Thomas O'Dwyer-Richards