Walking through Hell for Happiness

Damn, I seriously can't believe that it has been one year this week that I ran away from Rock Hill, SC and moved back to Boone, NC!  So much over the last year has changed, yet everything is eerily similar.  Looking back it was the 2nd best decision I've made in my adult life (the first was coming to grad school at App State).  While the year has been full of some super highs and low lows, I am so happy to be living where I feel I truly belong right now.  Regardless of what else happens this year with my running, my personal life, and career, I know that I will be able to look back on this move in the future and say that this move was the right decision in pursuit of my dreams.

Over the past few weeks I have done a lot of reflecting (which isn't always very good for my anxiety), but it's hard not to when I look back at where I came from a year ago.  One year ago at this time I had just finishing living the single worst month of my life (which is a hard list to top these days).  I had just finished up my 4th round of chemotherapy, was battling depression, had decided (for the 2nd year in a row) that my body couldn't handle running at the elite level, hated my situation and surroundings in Rock Hill, lost one of my high school and running mentors (Coach J, I still miss your kind words of encouragement and I will continue train to be your Olympic Hero regardless of whether I succeed), was pill popping and drinking just to get through the day and attempt to sleep.  I also started to develop anxiety because of all of the unhappiness, tension and toxicity that I was living in and around.  Needless to say, I was a certified wreck of a person.  I was in desperate need to do something to get me out of this situation and start healing, both mentally and physically.

I don't know how I have done it time and time again, but I slowly drag myself up off the matt and start swinging again.  I was certainly a long way off from being healthy, but I was determined to get out of my shit whole situation continuing to spiral out of control.  Looking back at some of the thoughts and lyrics wrote down during this time are seriously disturbing.  I stumbled upon this one the other day that I had jotted down at some point during this time

"Do you know what it's like to not be able to live in your own head?
Your thoughts are corrupt and you can't trust yourself
I'm stuck in my own living hell, that I always create"

Obviously, these are uplifting words!  But they tell a very surreal story of where my headspace was at during these times.  During times like these I find it helpful to write down ideas and thoughts because of the extreme raw emotion that is readily available to create art.  Many or all of these may never see the light of day, but many of them have potentials for songs or poems given the proper attention (for those of you that don't know I also dabble in music and have played guitar since I was 13).  Picking up and reading these lyrics can instantly transform me back to the time and places they were written.  They have helped preserve some of my emotions during critical pivot points in my life.

So when I arrived in Boone I was an absolute walking disaster and in desperate need of some relief from life!  Once this tiny town hidden in the Blue Ridge Mountains came to the rescue.  I will forever be indebted to my friends that helped make it possible (Brian Graves, Chris Moen, Sody, & Mark Sullivan).  Graves found me a job working at Westglow Resort and Spa and the boys let me sleep on the couch and share rooms while I gathered some cash and slowly pieced my life together over the summer of 2013.  For almost a year now Moen has not just been living with me, but sharing a room with me!  Wow!

The summer and rest of the year hasn't been all uphill though, and quickly came to a near deathly climax with my first real panic attack and being diagnosed with server anxiety, and depression.  The remainder of the year has been a roller coaster ride of wins and loses personally.  My life (and most people's live's) doesn't ever run in a linear fashion and the winter and spring have had their fair share of dark and light times.  Including problems as recent as a month ago.  Now though no matter the crisis, I am in a happy physical place now.  I live in a place and with people that I can breathe in and relax, even if just a just a small bit.  My situation here have brought many challenges, but that's life and what makes life worth living.  This is the point of this particular blog.

No matter your current situation, you have to fight to find your happiness.  It is sometimes impossible for that happiness to even remain in the same places and come from the same things.  You have to listen, learn, grow and search to find your happy place.  I am warning you though, it's hard to find, but that doesn't mean that you need to shy away.  Learn to find happiness in chasing and pursuing dreams and goals.  In fact, when you are chasing your goals you might find yourself sitting in your own personal hell.  If so, that means you are probably on the right path!  It means that your journey is worth something.  It means that your goals matter to you.  It means your life has passion and meaning.  It means you may have failed, but the real happiness and winning comes from continuing sit and chase through hell regardless of the outcome or possibility of failure!

So chase like hell, fight like hell, and live with passion!

"All Hope is Gone"


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  2. The significant influence good friends can have on life's journey is amazing. I too was recently in a situation that left me trapped in a prison within my own mind. It began as self-doubt and emotional isolation, then snowballed into a hell that I had created. Hating the place I was in, (geographically, mentally, and emotionally) I knew something needed to change. This could have never happened with out the help of some of most kind hearted friends anyone could ask for. Saving a long story, my path seemed to be crumbling beneath my feet and I couldn't shake the depression I had put myself in.....but with my good friends, I could!

    I'm happy for anyone who returns from such awful paces. Especially when the light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger for them. My hat is off to you


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