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How Burpees Helped Me Conquer Depression

By Tyler Neyedly

“I’m done.” is all I posted on social media.

Messages started flooding in from concerned friends and family: “Are you ok?” “What’s going on?” “How can I help?”  One friend even called the police who showed up on my doorstep on a cold February night to make sure I didn’t do anything drastic.

Looking back it seems absolutely silly that a bad exam mark could push me to this place of wanting to give it all up, but I didn’t always have the coping strategies I do now.  Fitness has played a bigger role in my mental transformation than I ever could’ve imagined, and if you’re struggling with feeling low, I think it might help you too!

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Ty Neyedly during the 2015 CrossFit Open.  Photo Credit: Emma Love Photography

Focusing on fitness has the power to pull you out of some of the deepest, darkest places and to show you there are many reasons to live, along with giving you a sense of control in life.

Depression is a horrible and debilitating mental health issue the majority of people encounter in life, whether its short term or long, and from a personal view it’s never fun. Depression makes you feel like the world around you is completely hopeless and extremely dark.  There is consistent negativity wherever you go and very little joy in your day.

I will say that not everyone’s journey with depression will be the same.  Some people put on a front or act as if everything’s fine.  Remember it’s okay to seek professional help if you need it or to talk to a friend, family member, or dog. 🙂 Whatever you do, please be honest with yourself about what’s happening.

This is my story about coping with depression and how I still deal with it when it sneaks in from time to time.

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Ty Neyedly in CrossFit Brio’s Summer Smashfest last year.  Photo Credit: Chris Marsh

I knew that I was depressed when things weren’t going well for me in university; I felt like it was a struggle to go and do anything. The antidepressants my doctor prescribed made learning hard, and yet the worst side effects were complete drowsiness and a dark, looming thought of death.  After having thoughts that death was the only way out, I immediately called one of the crisis hotlines to talk with someone; I couldn’t go on like this.  I promptly made an appointment with my doctor to change what was happening. We stopped the antidepressant treatment and started to focus on positive thoughts, and on what made me happy. For awhile this worked and I started to feel better about myself – but thinking alone didn’t solve the problem.

Yoga and getting outside helped me spiritually and mentally but when I couldn’t go and the stress of school started to pile up again, everything relapsed.  I was doing basic weight training and bodybuilding as well as running on a treadmill or biking. These things helped me mentally; I was happier. Just getting into the gym helped me manage my stress for four or five months.  Still, something was missing and my feelings about life weren’t steady.

It got to the point where, after a bad exam mark (which was silly now that I reflect on it), I posted on social media the words, “I’m done”. This may have been taken out of context by lots of people but it was an eye opening experience for me and it taught me something: People actually do care about you, and see value in your life, even if at that moment you don’t.

After that situation resolved itself, I talked to more of my classmates and realized everyone struggles with the pressures of university;  it’s such a common problem that isn’t talked about. Most likely there are people around you that are dealing with depression that you are unaware of. I realized I needed an outlet for this stress and need to appreciate and be happy about myself. To this day, being happy and enjoying life is what I strive for; I’ve changed the way I approach the majority of situations.

I returned back to fitness once again. This time, I knew I needed more structure and more of a challenge in what I was doing. At the time, a friend of mine was talking a lot about CrossFit and how it was constantly different every day and extremely exhausting. I researched this new methodology greatly and decided I would find a CrossFit gym or box close to me and sign up for introductory sessions. After finishing the first intro workout with David, I was hooked. I couldn’t walk up and down stairs without my body hurting. Even though I sucked at just about every movement I enjoyed not knowing what I was going to be doing next. I’ve learned a lot in the 3 years since I started CrossFit (surprisingly more mentally and spiritually than anything else) and I feel great about doing tough workouts. I believe it’s the small victories in CrossFit that helped me cope with everything around me. In the one hour workout all my stresses were gone and I felt like you can control your life in the vast chaos: if I can walk in and tackle an unknown workout that challenges my mental tenacity and fortitude, what else am I capable of?

I have to say that even when living feels like the worst thing in the world, there’s a way out of the darkness. If you’re like me, you might want to try taking your fitness to the next level – it might be the missing piece of your personal puzzle. Now if I use the words “I’m done”, it means something completely different. I say it to my coach when I finish a difficult chipper and crawl to the ground, out of breath, marking the rubber matting with my own sweat angel. Now “I’m done” means – I conquered – one of the most challenging tasks of the day that others may be too scared to try. What else can I conquer? How else can I be victorious?

Burpees helped me conquer depression and transformed the words “I’m done” for me.  What could elevating your fitness do for you?

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Ty’s Recommendation for Getting Started:

“Start doing something small and committing the time to do it.  Start within your capacity and slowly let yourself get uncomfortable with things.  Whether it’s going for a walk every day, just standing in a gym, or something more challenging like doing 100 push-ups over the course of a day.  Start with something.”

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The Story Behind the Blog

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Ty was a member of my program, Projekt Possible.  In the program, I challenge clients to live their biggest lives and give them the tools to do it; that’s how he ended up writing this blog.  He said he wanted to have a blog, and I said, “Why don’t you try writing one for me?”

If you’re ready to choose the bigger life for yourself, I created this program for you.

Here’s what Ty says about the program: “For me, Projekt Possible helped with my own self-awareness and helped me learn to be more vulnerable sharing who I really am with the world.  It also helped me find more direction in life.  My favourite part of the program was interacting with like-minded people out there struggling to find their purpose.  I would recommend Projekt Possible to anyone that feels uncertain about what’s next.  It’s made me see that opportunity, in all forms, is everywhere.  It’s inspired me to be more open about spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health and has lead me to be much more happy in my relationships and in life.

If you’re ready to shift your mindset from negative to positive and from limits to possibilities, click here.

2 thoughts on “How Burpees Helped Me Conquer Depression

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