Depression wants to win and I won’t let it. Let’s start my story by starting at the very beginning. At the young age of 9, I started swimming. When I began swimming I didn’t realize that I would become a lifelong participant in the sport of swimming. Some start swimming at that age because their parents get them involved but that isn’t what happened to me.
How I Started Swimming
I have a twin sister and I started swimming because of her and a best friend we had. Our friend couldn’t hang out with us one night because she was going to the movies with the local summer swim team. My sister and I tagged along. All these years later we are still swimming with our local Master’s Swim team. Best part of this is that we are also still in touch with that friend that got us started in the sport.
Why am I telling you about how I got started with swimming at the age of 9? It’s because I enjoyed swimming up until high school. At that time, my family moved to the DFW area and swimming was a big deal. At the time, I felt like you could only be on the swim team if you were SUPER FAST and unfortunately I wasn’t.
The high school coach told me that because I wasn’t fast enough to compete that I would’t be participating in any meets. Over the course of my 4 years in high school, I was able to swim during practice but never in a meet. The hardest part was that my sister was fast enough to swim in the meets and I had to watch her race while I sat on the sidelines.
From the age of 9 until high school I didn’t feel any pressure to swim. I just swam. When I got to that high school in Dallas the pressure to get faster grew. It was immense and started to get me to hate swimming. It wasn’t the actual swimming that I hated, but being told I wasn’t a swimmer. There was a domino effect from those words to the physical part of swimming. I didn’t have much interest in it at all.
I Was Diagnosed With Severe Depression
During my junior year of high school, I was diagnosed with severe depression. There are plenty of reasons that I was depressed and practicing with the swim team and never participating in a meet was one of them.
After 4 years of high school swimming and never competing, I went to the University of North Texas (UNT.) Since I hadn’t competed in high school I didn’t head to UNT for the swim team. Instead I went there because it was the only school that accepted me. As you can see, life wasn’t easy. The depression continued to grow.
Not being a fan of swimming as a singular sport, I need to find an outlet. I found the UNT Triathlon Club. Joining the UNT club is one of the best decisions I have made. I not only discovered the sport of triathlon, but it probably saved my life. Through the depression and anxiety, I was able to make friends and be accepted.
Triathlon Has Saved My Life
My therapist and I were talking in 2008, 4 years after joining the UNT Club, that the club and the sport of triathlon is the best medicine and my best coping technique to help manage my depression. The sport of triathlon helps bring light to my depression diagnosis whether I train or race. As my therapist has said over and over again; triathlon is one of the main reasons I am still here to this day.
I have been a part of two other clubs but they didn’t fit for various reasons. One of the clubs I had to leave because I had attempted suicide 4 times in 3 months. My family had moved to Maryland and I needed to be close to them because I was no longer safe on my own.
The other club was not welcoming. As I said earlier, I am ‘slow’ and I felt the club didn’t accept me because of that. After 2 years with the club, I no longer had the money to pay for the monthly dues nor the desire to be a part of a club that didn’t welcome me.
I Found A Club For Me
Today, I am a member of the DC Triathlon Club. The reason I joined the club is because they have an LGBTQA+ group and since I came out 3 years ago I decided it was time to find a way to meet others like me since I felt so alone in that community. So far the people accept me even with the depression and anxiety issues.
I have just finished my 18th consecutive season in the sport. Many friends and family are impressed that I keep showing up and haven’t given up. There are some days that it’s so easy to get out of bed and train while most days are so very hard. When I do get out and train; I tell myself 30 minutes. If I can get through that 30 minutes do another 30 minutes. My brain and body know when I’ve had enough.
In the early days of triathlons I was a beast; I was always on the podium for top 3 in my age group and so many times for top 3 overall. Things have changed drastically since those early years; where I am now a mid to back of the pack triathlete. But the point is; I’m still showing up and still doing what I have loved so much since the start of it in 2004.
Depression Wants To Win
Depression wants to win but the sport won’t let it come close to doing that.