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Letting sleeping (black) dogs lie….

December 18, 2012

Hi.

It’s been a while. We are SO busy over here at CrossFit Barrier Reef that I really have had to focus every last bit of my energy on making stuff work, and keeping the wheels turning.

I’ve also been out of touch as I’ve lost focus.

Sometimes, my mind gets a little bit dark, I feel overwhelmed, and even the thought of trying to put a sentence together that makes any sense brings a giant lump to my throat, and tears sting my eyes.

There’s no reason for it. I have a beautiful life. I have THE BEST job in the world, great friends, wonderful family, and my OWN little family; a loving, generous, and supportive partner, and (in my eyes) the most PERFECT child I could have asked for. What more could I want? What could POSSIBLY make me sad.

DEPRESSION.

Yep. I said it. The big bad “D” word.

I was first diagnosed about 17 years ago, and have fought on and off since then.
It still amazes me how afraid people are to talk about it. It didn’t strike me until today how loathe I am to discuss it. Or admit that I have it. Because to admit to others means reminding myself. And that terrifies the FUCK out of me.

I could feel it creeping up when we had to have my family dog put to sleep a month ago. It snuck into my bed 2 weeks ago and gave me horrific night terrors 3 nights running. It burrows into my head and takes away my sleep. It puts paranoid thoughts into my head as I cross the street….

* Jojo’s brain, as she crosses the street holding the baby
“Man, that car is moving pretty fast. What if its tyre blew up, and it careened out of control, and crossed the median strip, and hit you, and the baby flew out of your arms, and she DIED. What if that happened. I know, it’s irrational, right? But bad shit happens every day. What if it happened to YOU. That would be horrible. Don’t be so happy, it could all change in a heartbeat….”

How goddamn CRAZY does that sound.
Except, see, I know it’s not crazy. I know the paranoia and anxiety are manifestations of my depression. HA. Even as I type it I hate using the word. I want to call it something silly like “my sad”. It’s not something silly, though, it’s something that wraps its hands around my head and SQUEEZES until I can’t think. Until I can’t breathe.

Today, depression has given me a giant beating around the head with a golf club.
I received news that a documentary about depression is going to air in New Zealand.
A documentary that I am a (small) part of. A documentary that would never have existed if I hadn’t left my ex-husband.

DISCLAIMER:

My life, my boobs, my family, my kitchen, I share ALL of it. 
I’m honest, I’m out there, I’m an open book.
It’s part of me, it’s a flaw, it’s a curse, it’s endearing.
However you look at it, it’s a massive part of who I am.

A big part of my OLD life is a very public figure.
A big chunk of HIS life is a very public story.
Part of his story, is MY story.
And most of it is untold.

This isn’t about bitterness, or anger. This is CATHARSIS. This is important for me to be able to dust myself off and well and truly move along.

The last time his life was a hot topic, I was abused by strangers, emailed by media, and lost MANY ‘friends’.

I had kept quiet, and just let sleeping dogs lie. 
But, after careful consideration and consultation, I decided to share a SMALL part of my part in this epic tale.
I decided that after the documentary was released, that I would make this blog post. HOWEVER, since it has all gone crazy/viral WAY earlier than expected, and I am getting emails, calls, and texts, I decided that today is the day.
I apologize if it’s confronting, and I also apologize if I (the grammar/spelling nazi) have made any glaring errors. I’ve just got to get it out.

HERE. WE. GO.

For those of you who are new friends, you may not be aware that I was once married.
I was. He was a very eccentric, very intelligent, and very fucked up young man.

We got together when I was about 24, and I was in the throes of a VERY dark, depressive episode. I was overweight, unhealthy, and sad. I was drinking, drugging, and partying my way into a hole.  Then along came a guy who didn’t do ANY of those things.
He offered me a plane ticket out of my life, and into a new one in New Zealand.
I took it.

He was the first relationship I’d ever had with anyone SMART. With anyone CONFIDENT. And with anyone who made me feel kinda special.
He was arrogant, self assured, and had people fall at his feet wherever we went. I felt lucky that someone like him would want to be with someone like me.
He didn’t want to change me, which as a result, brought me into a positive space.
Someone who liked me for ME.

Looking back I realize that I was settling for the IDEA of what I thought a happy relationship should be like. He had a stable, loving family, just as I did. We had the same beliefs and plans.
He treated me well, when he was in a good mood.
But he wasn’t very ….. nice.

In fact, as he would proudly tell people, he was a c*nt.
If you didn’t like that, well, too bad for you.
As one of his friends aptly put it “if you are in the sunshine of his love, it’s a beautiful place, but if you’re not, it’s dark and miserable. There is no GREY area” (this was a man who would often state that he could be a “messiah”. If he built a cult, he was convinced people would follow. He wanted his own TV show, his own radio show. Anything where his voice would be heard. I couldn’t tell a story about something that had happened to ME without him interrupting, telling me I was shit at telling stories, and retelling it for me….but shit, he was FUN and QUIRKY and I felt alive around him)
He hated MOST people. He hated MOST things. But he loved ME.
I started to stick up for myself, I started to believe in myself, and I felt like I could take on the world.
It sounds nuts, but having a guy who hated EVERYTHING but loved ME made me feel pretty special and superior.

He wasn’t depressed. There was no rightful chip on his shoulder. He was just a very clever, very spoiled young man who was used to getting things his own way.
He didn’t HAVE to be nice, so he WASN’T. The fact that I was nice annoyed the SHIT out of him.

Then this Mr Awesome got DEPRESSED.
I knew he was.
But as many men suffering with depression will tell you, if you TELL them they do, if you SUGGEST they do, they will NEVER admit it.

For 2 years before we separated, I battled with him over it. I booked him in with Doctors, I sent him links to Depression.org.nz and Beyond Blue. I told his friends he was depressed (many of them replied with “He’s just looking for attention” or manly responses along the lines of “hardening up”)

My own black dog was lying at my feet every day. For a year he had been running in circles around me. I’d entertain him most weekends by throwing him a stick, by going out all night and partying until I couldn’t see straight.
I took on a cleaning job, and would stay an hour after I was done, and drink a bottle of wine or a few beers I’d brought with me just to avoid walking back into the warzone that was my home. Then he made me quit THAT so I’d have to spend more time at home.
He convinced me that I was a doormat, and that people were taking advantage of me. But somehow at the same time he reminded me that I was so far above everyone that I didn’t NEED to help them; it was their responsibility to help themselves.
I quit doing extra work  at the job I loved, that I would ordinarily VOLUNTEER for, because he thought it was monopolizing our time. At his request I stopped visiting friends or helping out where people were used to having me, so people stopped calling.
I had never felt more alone or isolated in my life. And I couldn’t tell anyone how it REALLY was or I’d look like a complete and utter fool.
After I finished work, if I knew Mr Awesome was in a bad mood, I’d take black dog for a walk to the Japanese restaurant under my apartment building where I would sit RIGHT in the back where I wouldn’t see anyone I knew. I’d drink myself into a place where I knew that I could wander back upstairs in a cloud, crawl into bed, and anything he said or did wouldn’t pierce through.

In a job where I was supposed to be happy, active, healthy, and onto it, the cracks started to show.
I would spend all night in tears after being blamed for things that were out of my control.
Then I’d be expected to show up to work at 5am and INSPIRE people.

Once, after spending a night sobbing on the bathroom floor after being told I was worthless, I showed up to work, with my happy face painted on.
I had a fellow Coach take me into the office and tell me that it sucked that I was so happy all the time, because when I was little bit sad, everyone could see it. I was asked to stop being SUPER happy, so that maybe the bad days wouldn’t be so obvious to people.
Little did they know I was at the very end of my rope.
I left work that morning at 11am. I stopped at the bottle shop and got a six pack of something colourful and fruity with vodka in it. I sat in my car at the beach and drank it. I tried to call friends and family back home, but for whatever reason that day, NOBODY answered. Then I drove home.
As I drove I considered driving the car into a pole.
But I decided to get more wine. At noon I bought 3 bottles. I sat at home and drank them, then called in sick for work that afternoon.

That should have been the end of it all. It sure as shit FELT like it.

The following day I BEGGED my husband to seek help. Trying to be everything for him, whilst trying to hold myself together had plunged me into the darkest depression I had ever known.
I was taking prescription painkillers, over the counter meds, and any other drug I could get my hands on just to make it through the day.
I told him if he couldn’t do this for our marriage, then it wasn’t worth saving.
I went to seek help myself the next day.

He booked in with a doctor too.
Things were great for a little while. Until he decided that he WASN’T actually depressed, and the doctor was an idiot.
At the same time, a very close friend committed suicide, and as I cried three days later, he told me to get over it, and that the guy was a selfish coward. He just could not comprehend how I was feeling, or how ANYBODY could want to give up; how funny that he didn’t know that at least once a week I toyed with those thoughts myself.

The games then got worse than ever.
Every day was spent waiting for the next violent outburst.

I started drinking again. Even though I had given him an ultimatum, I was terrified about what would happen if I left him.
After a visit home to Oz, my family told me they didn’t recognize me anymore. My friends told me I was a shadow of my former self. I was shy. I was nervous. I was DRUNK.
I got home to NZ and started to look more closely at my life.
When he wasn’t abusing me, slamming doors, or breaking crockery, he was slumped in the shower crying for hours, or curled up in bed with tears streaming down his face.
I loved him.
I loathed him.
I pitied him.

We found another doctor.
He told him he wasn’t clinically depressed, and that the good news was, some simple tools would help him. He spoke in a language that Mr Awesome understood. And little by little, he started trying.
But I realize now, the damage had already been done.
One night I had just walked in the door, and he was waiting, in a mood, and began to hurl abuse. That night something switched in my head; I realized that even though he was depressed, I didn’t deserve to be treated that way.
I stood at the door and BEGGED him to stop. I told him that if he said one more hurtful word, that if he didn’t take it all back, I would leave. Then I sat at his feet and cried.

His words are stuck in my mind forever

“This is all your fault. My life was perfect before you came into it. I want a divorce. You’ll be hearing from *insert lawyers name here* in the morning. Get the fuck out, and don’t come back”

NOW- this was nothing new. He had told me this on more than 5 occasions. I usually grabbed an overnight bag and went to his parents house, or a friends house, or down to the pub for a few hours. But this time felt different.

I stopped loving him RIGHT at that moment.
It went and it never came back. I don’t know HOW. I didn’t even know it could happen like that. It was like a light bulb blowing.

There was no turning back.

exploding-light-bulb

I packed a bag. I walked out the door. As I walked 10 minutes to my best friends house I knew it was over.
My life was over.
That weekend I wrote myself off. I wanted to die. I wanted the world to swallow me up. I hurt people. I hurt myself. I was ashamed. I was getting a divorce.
Mrs “Perfect Marriage, you should all be like me” was SHAM.
I had the party to end all parties, trying to convince myself I was FREE all the while knowing that I had nowhere to go, and feeling like scum.

I came home on the Sunday to pack my stuff to be met with a red eyed, remorseful, broken man who said (for the last time) “I’m sorry. I really want to fix this”.

I called the Doctor for him in the morning. I booked a follow up appointment.
I stayed another two weeks, but I was dead inside.
He knew.

He held my hands the day I left for good and said he felt better and more positive than he had in his life.
He wanted to change and make it all better.
He was going to be fine.

I took a breath. I looked into his eyes and SAW something had changed. I wanted more than ANYTHING in the world to rewind back to that day he kicked me out, and make it all untrue.
Then I looked over my shoulder and saw TWO YEARS of emotional abuse and mental hell. Two years of denial. Two years where we BOTH deserved something more.
So I walked out the door.

And here I am.

Staring at my Facebook newsfeed where SEVENTEEN of my friends have shared this video. This snippet of a documentary about the man that destroyed two years of my life lauding him as a HERO.

Parts of my life that I had managed to forget are all rushing back….
We have blocked each other on Facebook. I don’t see what he posts. He can’t see what I post.
Any friend who re-posted anything of his, I sadly had to block from my newsfeed so I wasn’t reminded of his existence.
Until today, where his video and quotes have been cut, pasted,  re-quoted, and spread all over my computer screen.

This afternoon my little one was with Mum, so I took the afternoon off Coaching and have sat here crying and trying to put together how I feel.
I was reminded of a message I got from a friend and member the other day when I admitted that I was “SAD”
“you are a smart lady with a gorgeous baby and a loving partner. You are on the crest of a wave of a successful business. Don’t be in too much of a rush. Life is extremely good.”

She’s right. I’m part of something beautiful, not just in the little family I have grown, but in the much larger CrossFit family that is growing more wonderful every day 🙂
Now, of course, that doesn’t make my depression any better, but it reminds me to put things into perspective, to put my strategies into place to deal with my issues, to talk to the people who help, and to keep on keeping on.

It also reminded me that, somewhere over the ocean is a dude that, although he was no angel (in spite of what pretty pictures people paint), and in my eyes certainly not a “hero”, still went through some horrific shit last year.
I would not wish depression on ANYBODY.

This is worst case scenario shit in cases of depression, but man, it HAPPENS.

I guess what I’m getting at is, while he pursued something frivolous and self indulgent in the BEGINNING, it became something that mattered to other people in the end. Once he was truly alone, he was reminded of why it’s important to be nice, to pay it forward and to LOVE.
He FINALLY woke up and realized that there was a SHIT ton more out there worthy of his attention and care than he had ever imagined possible, and he started to believe in something charitable and useful instead of self gratification.
WELL. This is what I am IMAGINING.

Jimi Hunt has done a wonderful thing by raising awareness of depression, and helping spread the message that it’s OK to ask for help.
His doco might not make prime time, but in today’s era where social media and “virality” rules, I don’t think many people are going to miss what he has to say.
I hope he’s happy, and I hope he has found some true light to share.
He’s made an impact on tens of thousands of lives through Lilo the Waikato, and I hope that the effects continue to flow on.

Watch the video. Follow the cause. Ask for help.

If you need anything, y’all know where to find me.

Today, as always and forever, BIG, MAD LOVE.
Share it

xxx

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Taysh permalink
    December 18, 2012 9:02 pm

    I dont have any words to inspire you Jojo, but I do want to say this;
    That post made me cry. It opened my eyes into an unknown world to me. You are so courageous for writing that and I thank you for it from the bottom of my heart. You are SO loved by so many people (myself included) and you should be so proud of your achievments. BIG, MAD LOVE RIGHT BACK AT YOU!! Xx

  2. Mark Neems permalink
    December 18, 2012 11:14 pm

    Hey Jojo.
    Your story brought years to my eyes.
    Just thought I’d let you know your not alone.
    I also battled with depression for years. This has also been a tough year.
    This post just makes me wanna go home and hug and kiss my wife.
    I know we don’t know each other well but but your bubbly personality and big smile shines a mile. You have so many wonderful things in your life as do I. Everyday above ground is a good day right? thats what my dad used to say. We have the power to choose our attitude and that is one of the most amazing things.
    Hope you and your family are well 🙂
    Mark

  3. December 18, 2012 11:16 pm

    I glad that I didn’t link the post and if I had it would have been out of misguided loyalty to you as much as a desire to promote the cause Jimi is promoting. I do recall one smart-arse comment I made on Facebook some time ago which I now understand would have hurt you.
    I can only plead ignorance and apologise.
    I’ve read your post a couple of times and I think you can see this, but if not at least be assured that I do recognise how much pain you went through; it seems to be that what you’re going through is necessary. You’re in a better place now, there is some distance both physically, but most importantly, emotionally from that life and although the timing isn’t of your choosing (and it never seems to be somehow) you’re probably as ready as you can be to deal with this. And I don’t think it will be resolved this time or even the next time you have to confront what you went through. Trauma digs deep. Each time though, it will get you further from where you were and closer to where you can be.
    I’m choosing to take the documentary at face value and I’ll watch in that spirit if I have the opportunity. If I promote it I’ll attempt to do that out of your sight.

    I hope you feel better soon. Which is completely inadequate, but it is the heart of things.

  4. December 19, 2012 3:40 am

    JoJo, you are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. You are so strong, so brave and I love your brutal honesty which just gives so much to those you know and don’t know. I lost one of my close friends to suicide last week due to depression (which he kept well hidden) and I have struggled to understand what he went through, how we missed it, and how did he not know we were there for him?? Your honesty above is a gift, it has allowed the door of understanding to open slightly. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart xx

  5. Sammi permalink
    December 19, 2012 4:02 am

    JoJo,
    I was in tears reading this. I too, like many others suffer depression and anxiety. This year was the worst for me, I hit an all time low and after a very close friend of mine attempted suicide, I realised that it was time for me to get help. It took me a long time to recognize that I was depressed but once I got help and admitted to myself and to my family & friends it felt like a huge weight off my shoulders. I have been on anti depressants and anti anxiety tablets for 8months now and I try to exercise regularly and set goals for myself. I have now helped other friends through tough times by telling my story and I feel that educating people on depression is one of the most important things we can do, even if your story helps 1 person, it’s someone’s life you have saved. I think you are an amazing woman and I think your story and your courage is inspiring. Thanks for sharing babes. xoxox

  6. Malu Kiwai permalink
    December 19, 2012 4:55 am

    Very sad story.

    It looks like jimi is a manic-depressive, with extreme highs and rock bottom lows, just from the short clip you have posted. Im not sure but I believe there are mood stabilising drugs and even alternative treatments, such as diet changes for this.

  7. Paul permalink
    December 19, 2012 6:31 am

    thank you JoJo, i don’t know you, but thank you for sharing your story.

    to me your sharing is a reflection of how depression can touch us with sadness and hope at the same time – it reaches out across communities making its mark indiscriminately regardless of who we are and where we sit in life. and at the same time the sharing of our stories binds us closer and makes us stronger and able to face it.

    if anyone recognises in this story a search or wish for help in their own life, help is available
    lifeline.org.au – 13 11 14
    and many more – http://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au

  8. Christos Giorgio permalink
    December 20, 2012 9:34 am

    Jojo…..phew….to borrow a title from Anthony Robbins, you’ve awakened a giant within….quite simply….people
    Like you are worth knowing and only enrich other people’s lives….and that’s a gift worth possessing. You’re already a success girl in every way imaginable….embrace it fargen….you have always and always will….rock…!

  9. Gillian permalink
    December 30, 2012 3:49 am

    I don’t know you Jojo and have just stumbled here, but I just want to say that I am so glad that you have shared your side of the story. It must have taken a whole world of courage! You have shared your darkness moments and through that comes light. Thank you – your words have touched me.

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