Mary Eggers

General

Depression. My experience.

I remember waking up in the hospital. Both of my parents were standing at my bedside. I remember feeling like a failure. “I can’t even kill myself right.” I will never forget thinking that. I had taken a bottle of sleeping pills, at some point. I don’t remember the details, I really think I blocked them out.

I had created a plan. Letters were written. The dress to lay me out in was laid out with instructions.

My parents were adamant about no medications when the emergency doctor suggested antidepressants. I never asked them why. I felt nothing. I had no opinion. I don’t remember what I said to them, to any doctor or nurse. I don’t even remember being discharged.

All I remember during that period of my life (I was around 21-22?) was a very very deep sense of sadness. And sadness seems too light of a word. I felt like there was a black hole inside of me that was swallowing me up. And I didn’t know why.

I was battling an eating disorder. By then Bulimia was my way of life. I had been through so much therapy by that point that I could talk my way off any couch. I knew exactly what to tell the psychologists and psychiatrists.

I could not explain to ANYONE ….. WHY I FELT SO SAD.

It wasn’t because of anything I could identify, and that made it worse. I lived in a nice house in a nice town. I had a good life. I had good parents. I felt like I was slipping into a hole and I couldn’t reach and touch the hands that were outstretched to help me.

I was as frustrated with myself as much as people were frustrated with me. As a parent I can now see what my parents went through. They moved heaven and earth to help me. They wanted to fix it…. but I couldn’t identify what to fix. I couldn’t explain or put words to it. Again….. it was a feeling of a big black hole that was swallowing me up. I just wanted to die. I just wanted to be dead. I didn’t want to feel the bottom of this hole. It hurt. Physically hurt.

I laid on the couch for a solid two weeks after that. I remember friends stopping by and talking to me. I don’t know if I spoke anything back to them. It frightens me today that I remember so little of that time…. because I wasn’t medicated. Something in me has just blocked all of it out. Which proves to me how powerful our minds are. In both positive and negative ways.

I remember somehow I enrolled in a class to become a certified nursing assistant. I started working as a nurses’ aide. I began taking classes again. I moved out of my parents house. I began swimming again.

I walked through this without feeling anything. I was numb for months. I just did it because. I didn’t even think. My parents just pushed me forward….┬ámy father said we just have to get moving. ┬áMoving was my solace. I was swimming, biking and running. Not a lot. Just enough. I loved the feeling of being underwater. I love the sound of water. I loved the feeling of weighlessness. It felt like the weight of the world was off my shoulders.

I always felt a little bit better after those sessions. I didn’t think about anything during them. I just went through the motions.

It was through my work as a nurses’ aide which led to becoming an RN that ultimately healed me. Looking back now….. I am so glad my parents guided me to this path. In taking care of others I was pulled out of myself. It took my focus off of my own black hole and put that energy into helping others.

Throughout my career I have held the hands of the dead and I have held the hands of hope. That work…..along with working alongside the best doctors, nurses, technicians, secretaries …. that is what healed me completely. When I fell in love and became a mother…. I finally felt whole.

I understand depression. I understand it too well. On the scale of how bad depression can be Mr. Williams was at a 20 and I was at a 2. I have been lucky. I touched it for a while and I was able to reach to the hands that were extended to me. I treated myself essentially through finding love from my family, from strangers, from a beautiful world. From moving every day.

If only it could be that easy and simple for those who suffer much more deeply than I did.

I don’t like to talk about my suicide attempt. It’s embarrassing. It’s scary. It’s something no one really understands. People think you are a coward. People think you are sad because of something superficial. You can have the greatest life in the world and still… it’s there. For many it’s unexplainable. Untouchable. As a parent I see how difficult this had been for my parents. Give us something to fix, give us something to help you….. but there is no one thing.

It’s a feeling. Of sadness. Of despair. Of …. of what I can not explain. It’s not fixable with an ice cream cone, or a new car. It’s a deep black hole that you can’t explain or even justify.

There are times I can feel it still. Lingering. On the border of my life like a shadow that haunts me. It terrifies me. I never want to feel that way again. I had no reason to be depressed but I was. I don’t want that shadow to overcome me again and settle in the bottom of my heart and allow me to feel the deepest and most profound sense of hopelessness in the world.

I can identify with those who have been depressed. I can’t fix it. I don’t have an answer. But I get it. It’s this…… thing.

When I woke up in that hospital bed… having failed my own suicide attempt I didn’t feel grateful about it. I felt even worse. But I came out of it. I was luckier than lucky. I have no explanation for it. I don’t want to look back and analyze it. I carry much shame about it. I put my parents through some really deep hell during those years.

When I heard Robin Williams had taken his own life I cried. I cried hard. I have never seen the man in person. I don’t know him. I have no connection to him at all.

All I know about him is his body of work. His amazing body of work. He was open about his struggles and I knew that those performances stemmed from demons at times. Maybe it takes one to know one. Again, his seemed to be deeper than mine on many many many levels. I can’t imagine how hellish that had to be. What I had was a taste. What he and others have is so so much deeper and so so much more difficult.

I cried because I grew up laughing, crying. He had this way of evoking emotions. Making you think. Identifying with him on what we saw on screen.

I cried because I am scared of that deep hole. No one really understands it. No one talks about it. No one who has not been there truly respects it.

I got a second chance. Actually a third chance. I don’t really feel deserving of it…. but I work like hell to earn what I have been gifted. The chance to laugh, cry and admire the on screen work of such an amazing and talented human being….. was certainly a privilege.

Coaching

Getting to it.

Athletes come to me with a goal. I want to finish an Ironman, I want to finish a half Ironman. I want to do well at a particular race. Whatever it is they are aiming to accomplish, I can help them get there. I plot out the training, that’s the easy part. Fit training into their life logistically. Turn the dials to give them enough physical stress and recovery to help them gain fitness.

In all honesty the physical part is the easy part.

The hard part comes in the dead of winter when it’s you, the trainer and if you are lucky…. Netflix.

Summer champions are made in the winter. When the glory is absent. When the big race is months away and the mere though of getting into open water that’s currently frozen sends chills up your spine.

As I look back over the season results of my Valor Triathlon Project Athletes I am so happy. So inspired. So proud. Right now they are reaping the benefits of a long winter. Ericka just placed 4th in her age group at Nationals. Jenelle just smashed her sprint time by eight minutes. Kurt just earned himself a top three overall spot in a local olympic. Some accomplishments don’t yet involve podiums. Finishing a half Ironman within the cutoff. Finishing an Ironman on one of the most insane weather days there has ever been.

These athletes inspire me.

I don’t believe that a goal is ever outside of reach. If we commit to ourselves we can achieve anything. If we can commit to the long term, we can achieve anything.

I don’t buy that we don’t have enough time. I just don’t buy it. If you want something badly enough you’ll go to sleep when your kids do and you’ll get it in before they wake up.

I will never forget when I was in the middle of my Ironman career other moms would begin telling me they’d LOVE to do Ironman…. but they didn’t want to neglect their kids. That was when I stopped listening to them. I would look into their eyes and nod and I would not hear a thing. I’d think about something else and smile. Committing to oneself doesn’t mean neglecting your children. I call bullshit on that. BULLSHIT.

I have never missed anything with our son. That’s because I have never missed a 4am bike ride. I don’t worry about judgement because when someone even says that…. they aren’t talking about me. They are talking about themselves.

I know plenty of moms who have achieved bigger things than I who work more than I and have more kids than I do. And like me, they don’t miss a thing. Including sleep.

Those who achieve don’t give excuses. I don’t believe in excuses. I have seen the most untalented swimmers become good swimmers. The worst runners break 20 minutes in a 5K. I have seen the least bike savvy athletes learn to rock two wheels. They simply chip away at it. Bit by bit knowing that it might take longer than 5 years.

Those who achieve believe in themselves 100%. Without any doubt. Wihtout looking over at someone you think “has it all” and wanting some of that (trust me, they don’t. That’s your perception.). Without longing for something you don’t have. Each of us has a deck of cards to play in life. It’s up to us to play that deck as it’s given, not look at our neighbor and wish for theirs. Those who can do that, are the ones who achieve.

Those who achieve have patience. They know that 6 months is not long term. They know that each turn of the pedal, each recovery day, each jump in the pool is a brick. Houses are made brick by brick and sometimes it takes more than a year to construct. When it comes to athletics it often takes more than a year.

Those who achieve don’t make it dramatic. My most successful athletes….. and I define success not just by hitting the podium, but in how we are progressing….. don’t think about it too much. They don’t sit on the edge of the bed in the morning plotting out how they don’t want to ride. They don’t spend a crappy run giving into the thoughts that they suck. Plain and simple…. they get it done. Check…. check….. check. They don’t worry if a heart rate zone slows their running pace down today. They roll with it, they save it for race day…. and they move on.

As you look around and see the excitement…… weekly there are new Ironman finishers, breakthrough performances. You look at the results and you feel in your heart…. these times are not out of reach for me. I just need to give it time, get on the right path, commit to myself and the process. Take notice of that. None of the performances you are seeing happen today were built yesterday. It was during the winter. During the past 2-3 winters in fact. By athletes who believed 100% that they could. Who committed to their process. Who committed to getting it done. Who knocked out hard days and allowed their ego to take a back seat on the easy days.

If in your heart you have that…. I could do better feeling…… then do something about it. Don’t look back in ten years and wish you would have believed. Wish you would have just given it a shot.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I know plenty of athletes who tell me….. I could do that, I could be on the podium, if I just had some miles in me…… well you don’t And you’re not on the podium much less a finish line. Dreams aren’t built on wishes. They are built on work.

Let’s get to it.