It’s amazing how much pro wrestling can shine a light in my darkness.
Before we delve into the most recent example let me be clear right off the back, therapy is therapy. Live pro wrestling is absolutely not and is no substitute for the real thing if one is able to afford it/have reasonable access to it (that’s an article for another time) and I would never pretend otherwise. Please do not take that from this article. Therapy has been one of my biggest boons in helping me fight my mental/behavioral illnesses and I absolutely recommend and support it to those who can have access to it to do so. It was a life-changer for me.
But if I was reminded of something this year, it is how utterly happy and near worry-free I am when I’m at a wrestling event. I pretty much let my guard down, hair down, a lot of things down, and soak it all in as if I’m a plant getting all that sweet tasty water in me. Live pro wrestling puts a big smile on my face, a warm feeling in my heart, and does my soul good. This year has been an awesome reminder for that. I could talk about AEW All Out and how it was one of the best times I’ve had this year. I could talk about Fight Club/Aftermath shows put on my Game Changer Wrestling and the absolute blast I had experiencing them (and getting my photo with Minoru Suzuki).
What I want to focus on in particular though is the recent AEW taping I went to back on November 17. This was the pick me up, the blast of pure unadulterated joy and happiness I needed to be injected into my veins. The kind of happiness I wish I could bottle the essence of up and get me a good whiff of every now and then when I need a boost. The crowd energy, the performances in the ring, just the feeling, and soaking in the atmosphere was a shot of positivity I desperately needed. I am unsure if I can accurately explain how much I needed that live taping, but below I am going to try.
Since returning from my All Out adventures my mental state took a nosedive. Particularly, the middle of October to the middle of November was a nightmare for me mentally. I was beginning to drink more and heavier on the weekends as a form of self-medication. My mentality was no longer “Oh, I’m going to hang out with a few friends so I might have a drink” toward “I’m going to drink and while I do so I’ll hang out with my friends.” Needless to say, this is a huge difference in mentality. It wasn’t only that though. I was experiencing crying spells and mood swings. I had an anxiety attack over losing my wallet (which I did find). Suicidal thoughts were creeping in, I was beginning to lose joy in the very things I found my joy in. Everything but one. Pro wrestling. My love and enjoyment of pro wrestling never diminished and it gave me something to look forward to. I knew on November 17 I would be seeing Dynamite live with friends who had never seen AEW live before.
It may seem like a silly thing, “life feels like it’s awful, but at least I got live pro wrestling to attend in a few weeks.” Take it from me though, as a lifetime sufferer of depression, when you find that shining light, that guiding light, that spark that keeps you going, you focus on it, you cling to it, you don’t question it. If what is keeping you going is an event, a friend, a moment in time, then my pals use that for all its worth. Never let anyone ridicule you for what keeps you moving. That was it for me, professional wrestling performed live in front of me. I grasped hold of its arm reaching out to me and allowed it to pull me toward it.
It wasn’t easy. The first week of November I hit rock bottom mentally. I cut myself at work. I used my own nails to do so digging deep, digging hard, making myself bleed, and leaving scratch marks that would take weeks to heal. I still at this moment rub that part of my arm haunted by the memory of my actions. That scared me, that frightened me. It made me feel ashamed and angry. Didn’t stop me from repeating the actions again and again until my arm was burning. That is when my friends finally realized something was wrong and I had a stern but friendly conversation with two of my closest friends that almost turned into an online shouting match once they realized I was off my medication and stopped going to therapy. They didn’t so much convince me as ORDERED me to get back on my meds and therapy. To this day I can’t explain to you why I got off of them. I’m a creature of habit and routine is the best way I can explain it. When I forgot to schedule one appointment or went a few days forgetting to take them my mindset hit a different wave and it rode that wave until it was brought down by my friends who made it clear to me “there is no debate, you are going back on those things NOW.”
Always surround yourself with friends who are willing to say what NEEDS to be said and not always what you WANT them to say. It’s saved my life countless times. As of this moment I have a friend who checks on me every night to make sure I’m taking my medication and practicing self-care.
Bit by bit I slowly recovered, but I still hadn’t fully healed (I still haven’t at the moment of writing this article). All the while counting down the days that I had to Dynamite. Work became a struggle, I had to start taking off mental health days, worried I’d be considered unreliable. My store manager finally put a hand on my shoulder and told me “You are the last person we’d consider unreliable. Take care of yourself”. That kept me going. I called a suicide hotline and they helped me. VOWers, friends, strangers on Twitter helped me. It was as if I put out a beacon for help and people I didn’t even know I had ever meant anything to due to my own mental processes came out of the woodworks to help lift me up. It brought tears to my eyes, and it kept me going. Keep me marching to that happy date circled on my calendar.
The day arrived, and as I entered the arena for AEW’s taping I felt myself sigh a breath of relief. This was territory I was comfortable in and loved cherishing. My pro-Trans mask got thumbs up and encouragement and that made me feel even better. As I sat in my seat and stared at the ring I felt a weight temporarily lifted off my shoulder. It was incredible how much lighter being in that arena made me. I took it all in. Not even the two annoying fans who did nothing but talk about dirt sheet news all night and not actually watch the show could dampen it. Nor could the person behind me who provided “color commentary” all night. None of those factors matter. All that mattered was I was here.
And then I arrived at the show and all my troubles seemed so far away.
As I sat down in my seat I felt an air escape me. I can only describe that at that moment I was at ease. I clapped, I cheered, I chanted, I sang and danced to theme songs (I am so glad the camera didn’t catch me during The Acclaimed entrance. Twitter would’ve had a rightful field day.) It was the best day of November by far, and joined All Out and GCW weekend as some of my best times in 2021. It’s not shocking to me how my best times always seem to coincide with wrestling, but there you have it. I could feel a smile behind my mask grow bigger and bigger, and I’m so bad at smiling I used to actively HATE it, and refused to remove itself as I watched what turned out to be a very fun Dark/Dynamite/Rampage combination.
When it was all said and done, and we got to the “send them home happy” off-camera stuff at the end of the show I was exhausted in the best way possible. Adam Page sang Country Roads, the best friends GAVE US WHAT THE PEOPLE WANTED, Tony Khan thanked us, C.M Punk came out and talked, and I couldn’t help but feel thankful for all of them. None of them know me, nor will they ever meet me, but on that night they were all special to me. Almost every single performer hit me in a way that I more than appreciated at that moment. Getting to see Danielson wrestle, getting to be one of the few chanting and applauding for Nyla Rose, getting to see Punk not talk in order to get under MJF’s skin, celebrating with Adam Page. What a night, what a fun happy night. I was drunk on happiness, which is far better than alcohol by several miles.
I fell asleep in the car as my friend drove me home. I was relaxed, at peace. Reality would set in days later. I would continue to fight my depression and still do. As I write this I’m struggling with insomnia and a feeling of numbness. I’m in a deep hole and I’m not even sure I’m halfway out. But I am glad and I am thankful, and I am still here. Pro wrestling isn’t my Therapy with a capital T, but it is a lowercase t (therapy). It has helped me so much, and live pro wrestling is the absolute best. I know we like to say we don’t owe pro wrestling anything as fans, but I’m one of the rare fans that feel she does. I feel ESPECIALLY this year pro wrestling has done so much for me I hope one day I can do something for it. But until that day comes, until that opportunity comes, I’ll just want to say to every performer I’ve seen live this year, and in years past that have helped me feel like brighter days are possible (AND THEY HAVE HAPPENED). I want them all to know just one thing, and one thing only…
Thank you, you have helped me more than you’ll ever know, and I’ll never forget it.