Author’s disclaimer: I talk about some dark stuff below. I give insight into my mental health that involves detailing my intrusive thoughts, self-harm, and suicidal tendencies. Please be aware of these things. Thank you. 

Dear Eddie Kingston:

Feels ridiculous opening addressing you. You may never see this. More than likely you’ll never read it. Know this, I used to not understand you, I used to not get Eddie Kingston. I was always wondering why he had a following on the independents. It did not click with me. I can’t explain why. Sometimes you miss the mark. Sometimes the obvious is in your face and you still refuse to see it. The truth is, I wasn’t a fan. I laugh at that now.

In the past few years though, as I’ve seen more of your work, listened to more of your words, and understood more of your story, that has started to change and transform. It has changed to understanding, it has changed to being a fan, it has changed into respect. While your ring work has been respected by me now, it cuts deeper than that. Cuts deeper than the scratch marks I have time after time left on my arm desperately trying to make myself bleed. Distracting myself from one pain by causing another. It cuts deeper than the intrusive thoughts I’ve had to take a pair of scissors to my wrist. Dark shit, but if you are going to be real then so am I. You gotta understand I respect you cause you speak it as it is. You tell it, you live it and you express it. When we see Eddie Kingston, no, when we LISTEN to Eddie Kingston who we are getting is Eddie Kingston. Not a character, not a gimmick, not a wrestling persona. 

That hits, that hits hard, When you speak it demands attention and we give it. We give it because we know Eddie Kingston is talking to us. That said though, I’m not here to talk about your work in the wrestling ring, your work in the backstage area. I’m here to talk about the recent article you wrote detailing your struggles your journey, the absolute lows it took to get to your highs. I didn’t have it too bad. It’s almost ridiculous talking about my troubles with that knowledge. I had a good (but imperfect) childhood, I made decent grades, I had wonderful friends. I lived in a small town, I had two dogs, and the world was in front of me and I was in charge of my own destiny.

Reality is sometimes masked by the fantasies we created ourselves.

There was something dark bubbling in me. Both undetected, and worse, ignored and dismissed. Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. They started to wrap their tentacles around me. Slowly at first, to the dangerous point that by the time I noticed something was wrong it was too late. I hit a mental health rock bottom. I started having thoughts, horrible thoughts about my family, about sex, about, well, things I can’t even speak about to this day. Because the moment I say what some of these thoughts are, they will be misunderstood. Hell, I don’t understand them now, I don’t know where they come from. What was worse though was the visualizations. Closing my eyes and SEEING the thoughts play out in front of me. Intrusive and violating thoughts of rape (both committing and experiencing), murder, mutilation, suicide, and other acts. It was like watching a real-life snuff film playing 24/7 on repeat all the while my mind slowly decayed and I felt lost in a spiral of doubt, grief, despair, agony, torture.  These thoughts were awful terrible. They weren’t me! I began to worry they were. I began to worry I was evil, sinister, corrupt, satanic.  I would cry, I would scream. I would curl up in a fetal position whimpering “God make them stop” but God didn’t answer my prayers because God never cared and they continued on. For two years. for two excruciating years, I suffered through this maddening torment, my sanity constantly hanging by a thread that could be pulled apart at any moment. How I didn’t kill myself I couldn’t begin to explain. I was still a Christian then, maybe it was the fear of hell? I hate to think some religious belief I no longer believe in was all that kept me alive, but if so, so be it. I made it through, but I was left with bruises, cuts, scars, damage you’ll never be able to see but I feel every day of my life.

I didn’t kill myself, I did the only thing I could do, I locked myself away from the world. For two years I primarily stayed in my tiny room at my Grandma’s. I might have forced myself on the weekends to meet a friend or two. I would hide it, I would mask it, believe it or not, NO ONE knew something was wrong. So I started to believe I was fine. I wasn’t. I wasn’t fine. I was drowning and in desperate need of a life preserver. My thoughts intensified. I no longer felt sad, I no longer felt period. I was numb to everything, including my own suffering. Time started to crawl to a halt, making it all feel even more prolonged and extended. I would wake up at twelve PM and go to bed at seven pm. I went from 150 pounds to 240 pounds within a year. I would get sick and refuse to take care of myself because I felt being sick was something I deserved. I stopped moving, stopped caring, stopped living, and then I was at my parent’s house because my grandparents gave up. I hit rock bottom, and I was still trying to dig deeper. I, it hurts talking about all those things now. It will always hurt, no matter how much I heal. The pain never goes away, I can only learn to live with it.

I won’t tell my whole life story. There is so much to explain and put in detail. The reaching out for help, the recovery, the struggles since. I will confess recently I relapsed. I stopped taking my medications, stopped taking therapy, I started to drink more to cope in an alternative way (I’ve stopped and taken a break from alcohol). I cut myself at work at my workstation with my own nails I PURPOSELY grew out for such an act. That was the wake-up call, it shocked me into action. My friends who love me put their foot down and told me to start taking care of myself NOW. I stopped writing for this website, I got myself an accountability buddy, I put down the alcohol. I’m still in the thick of it, but I’m making my way through.

The reason I’m sharing all this is that Eddie Kingston’s recent article was exactly the thing I didn’t know I needed. What I’m trying to say to you Eddie Kingston is reading your struggles and reading your experiences has an impact on me. It would’ve had an impact on me in a healthy state of mind, but in the mindset I’ve had recently, it was REALLY NEEDED. In your face, brash, loud, the Eddie Kingston we all fucking know and hope never goes away.

It hit me not because I compared struggles, but because it showed me that at the end of those struggles I can do it. I can endure, I can get to where I want to be. Whether that be with a better job, a better life, or maybe even my dream of working backstage in wrestling. That is my ultimate destination after all. Seeing your low after low, and in the end, all of it leads to you making it to AEW makes me look at my lows, makes me look at my struggles, my suffering, my despair, and I tell myself, I survived that shit. I’m still here. I can do this, I can make it, I can be a success. I’ll have to work, I’ll have to have my setbacks, many of them, but I can do this. That hope is a powerful thing. I cling to it, clutching it as hard as I can worry it’ll escape. I need hope, many of us need hope, and any hope I can get I collect, I store, and I give myself a little bit of it each day so I can make it last.

You are a real one to me Eddie Kingston. From your words, from your honesty, from the love you have for friends no longer here (Brodie, Sweeney) to your friends fighting their own demons right now (Jon Moxley) you are a real one, and that’s what I need in my life, in my wrestling, the real ones. Those who aren’t afraid to face their problems, point out the problems within the industry in general. Judgment, ridicule, criticism, you say “fuck you: to all that and lay it down on the line for all who are willing to listen to take in. The old-schoolers talk about the good old days, and how they wish things remain the same, you gave us all the fuel we need to burn those fucking arguments to the ground. Mental illness is still not taken seriously by many and is misunderstood by many. I tell people I’m disabled due to mental illness and they scoff at times. I’m told I’m in actuality lazy. It means so much to me to see you SPEAK ABOUT THIS SHIT. Be open, be honest, be truthful. Say to everyone, this is real, this is what I deal with, it makes you sick, it makes you hurt. It WILL KILL YOU. But you can survive it, you can endure it, you can live with it. I appreciate and admire your courage and bravery to do so. I know you weren’t directly speaking to me, you were sharing your stories to all, but it was a story I’m glad made it my way. It was a story I needed to experience.

So thank you Eddie Kingston. Thank you for your hard and honest words. Thank you for expressing your thoughts and being willing to share your struggles, and telling us about how you have dealt with mental illness and all your other struggles. I will never be cured, I will never fully heal. There’s too much damage, and my mental illness lives rent-free in my head and is never moving out.  I can only do better and better and better. Some days I think I can’t do better.  I stumble, I fall, and I fall hard. Somedays I fail. Some days I look for a gun only to remember that’s why I don’t own one in the first place. I don’t want the option available to me. Again, dark shit, but that’s what I deal with. That’s my reality. If Eddie Kingston is going to be real with us, I’m going to be real to him and my readers. I’m not always in a good place, sometimes the place I’m in, like recently, is the worst dogshit place imaginable. The darkness engulfs me and I distrust that light at the end of the tunnel. But I won’t give up. I won’t. I promise. I promise you the reader, I promise my friends, I promise myself. I refuse for Rich or other VOWers to wake up one morning to a message “Jeri lost her battle with mental illness last night” from a friend who wants them to know (and yes friends have been instructed on this). I never want that to be my end, and it’s come close to being that. So close. If I told you how close, and how recent, it would slap you in the face with my realities. I’m sorry this is dark shit, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I’ve learned to trust it. Eddie Kingston has shown me that. Through detailing his struggles and story I know I can make it through, I can be alright That doesn’t mean you won’t stop fighting, you’ll always have to fight. You’ll win, you’ll lose, but as long as you keep getting back up you can continue to move forward with every painful step you feel you need to take. It’s hard, and somedays I don’t want to do it. But maybe, just maybe, in the end through all the pain, all the suffering, all the hurt, you’ll heal just enough… to feel as whole as you are ever going to feel. I want that shit. I think I’m going to try to get some of that. Keep fighting Eddie Kingston, I promise I’ll do the same.

Respectfully yours,

Jeri L. Evagood (She/Her)
Survivor Of Mental Illness